GRANITE FALLS — Downtown could look much different by the end of the year.
A new civic center, which would include City Hall, a public plaza, a community room and a parking lot, is in the works.
Meanwhile, fundraising is under way to build a social services campus that would allow the food bank, Granite Falls Community Coalition and family support center to share space near the Boys & Girls Club. The club on Stanley Street and Alder Avenue is slated to get a new gymnasium, too. It would double as an emergency shelter for up to 300 people in case of a disaster such as an earthquake.
Work could start as soon as May on a 7,500-square-foot, single-story civic building on South Granite Avenue across from the current City Hall. The goal is to have it done by the end of November.
Designs call for a building that resembles an old train station, honoring the area’s legacy of mining, timber and the railroad that allowed those industries to thrive. The local history museum is nearby, as is the police station.
A second phase, to be done about a decade from now, would expand the civic center to include a new police station. In the meantime, police might move into the current City Hall, city manager Brent Kirk said. It’s a more secure building than the former video rental store they’re in now.
The project is expected to cost about $2.88 million for the first phase. It’ll be paid for through city reserve funds, real estate excise taxes and by taking out a loan for about $2 million, Kirk said.
A new City Hall has been needed for a while, he said. The building that houses city services was a fire station in the early 1900s. It is aging and wasn’t designed for public meetings.
“You’ve got to walk up 21 stairs to get to council meeting. It’s ludicrous,” Kirk said. “And if you’re up there and there’s a fire, the only fire escape is a deck with a set of stairs off it that would fall off the building if more than three people stood on them.”
The community food bank is in a double-wide trailer on the property where the civic center is to be built. That will be removed. The food bank likely will relocate temporarily to a portable, but could have a permanent home by next summer, said Heidi Hutchins, president of the community coalition.
The city purchased property next to the Boys & Girls Club. Originally, the plan was for local nonprofit groups to remodel a church there. But the church was too run down and it’s more practical to demolish it and build something new, Hutchins said.
The city received $375,000 in the state capital budget toward the Northeast Snohomish County Community Services Campus: $125,000 for site improvements and $250,000 toward the new gym. Hutchins said the coalition needs to raise $500,000 to cover the cost of building the social services center. They have a $250,000 pledge, she said.
The food bank and family support center provide help for thousands of people in Granite Falls and around the city, including remote neighborhoods outside of town. In 2016, the food bank provided for nearly 1,700 households, totaling more than 4,300 people. About a quarter of them were children, another quarter seniors.
A second food bank in Granite Falls, located at the Father’s House Church, could move into the new location, too, Hutchins said.
“It will be like a one-stop shop for people, instead of having to remember when is family support open, when is the food bank open, when is the other food bank open,” she said. “It would just be one place to go.”
More information is online at granitefalls communitycoalition.org. There’s also a “Donate” button on the website for those who would like to contribute.
Granite Falls is growing fast, said Kirk, the city manager. Hundreds of new homes are going in. The population is expected to double by 2035.
New spaces for city and social services are needed, Hutchins said.
“It’s impacting multiple levels of the community. It’s not just focused on the civic center, it’s also helping families who are lower income,” she said. “It’s just a wide range of what’s truly happening in Granite Falls. It’s something we really need.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.