If they build it, will they come?

By Janice Podsada

Herald Writer

EDMONDS — The Edmonds Public Facilities District will learn Oct. 1 whether a consultant believes the area can support a regional center or performing arts center, and a private hotel to anchor the project.

That’s the date Greg Easton, a consultant with Property Counselors, a Seattle real estate and appraisal service, expects to give the PFD board a thumbs up or a thumbs down on the project, based on a feasibility study.

The two-month study, which is now under way, will determine whether there is market demand for a regional center or performing arts center. The study will draw on the comments of local residents, businesses, public and private cultural groups, and comparison surveys of cities comparable to Edmonds to draw its conclusions, Easton said.

This week, Edmonds PFD board members gave Easton a lengthy list of local performing arts companies, community centers, museums, festival sponsors, private clubs and groups that require meeting, display or performance space.

Easton said he will contact those groups, as well as regional performance groups, to determine what size meeting or performance space they require.

The information will be used to determine whether there is a demand for any or all of the three projects. The study will also recommend a size and capacity for a conference or performance center, and whether the area can sustain a 500-seat or 1,000-seat theater, for example.

The final determinant of the venue’s size "will come to down to the money available," Easton said.

A third aspect of the feasibility study will focus on whether there is enough local demand for the construction of a new, privately financed hotel.

The $56,000 feasibility study is being paid for through a state sales tax rebate and $34,000 the city of Edmonds gave the PFD when it was formed in April. The PFD will eventually repay the city’s money.

Easton’s final report will be delivered to the Edmonds City Council sometime after the November general election, said Stephen Clifton, the city’s community director.

At this point, the study will only look at the three general locations recommended by the PFD board.

Those three locations are the downtown Edmonds area, the site of the former Puget Sound Christian College in the 400 block of Fourth Avenue N, and commercially zoned property near 220th Street SW and Highway 99.

You can call Herald Writer Janice Podsada at 425-339-3029 or send e-mail to podsada@heraldnet.com.

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