MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Opera House is now city property.
The building on Third Street dates back to 1911. It’s the only location in town on the state historic register.
The city had been leasing the Opera House since January 2016. It’s been investing in renovations there to expand on arts and cultural programming. The site fits into the larger, long-term plans to redevelop Marysville’s waterfront and downtown, city manager Gloria Hirashima said.
“This building has a very, very long history …,” she said. “We’ve always considered it special.”
The sale closed Jan. 11, with a price of $1.44 million.
The City Council had authorized the use of eminent domain to obtain the property if necessary, according to public records.
The former owners were the Williams family, who are local contractors. They saved the building when it was in danger of demolition in the 1990s, Hirashima said.
The family always wanted the Opera House to become a public space someday, Sherri Williams said. Her in-laws were antique dealers, and they knew the building was viable even when it had problems, she said.
“They really believed in preservation, and they saw tremendous value in it,” she said.
Three generations of the family put their labor into the project, Williams said. For 20 years, the city has been supportive of their efforts, and now the site has federal historic status as well, she said.
“It’s been very hard to let go, for all of us, but we knew the timing was right,” she said.
The venue hosted 138 events last year, including family-friendly holiday outings and happy hours with live music. And it still books weddings, Hirashima said.
The city recently finished acquiring all the property between Ebey Slough and First Street. Now, officials are working on permits for expanding Ebey Waterfront Park, including trail extensions and adding docks for small boats. Eventually, there could be shops and restaurants in the area, too.
The state has awarded $4.75 million for environmental work, which incorporates the former Welco lumber site. There also is money set aside for the redesign of Cedar Avenue in that part of town, Hirashima said. Meanwhile, construction is under way to revamp the east side of First Street.
More is coming. The city is in the engineering stage for a future bypass from Highway 529 onto First Street. The state plans to create a new freeway interchange at Highway 529 and I-5, which would be supported by the bypass. The extra link would serve drivers who don’t want to continue to Fourth Street. The state’s work is scheduled to start in 2019.
That all factors into the waterfront becoming more of a gateway into Marysville, Hirashima said.
“We’re really looking at trying to remake that area and make it more attractive and welcoming,” she said.