A local group would like to see Vista Field become the place where art starts in the Tri-Cities.
Representatives from the Arts Foundation of the Mid-Columbia asked Port of Kennewick commissioners Tuesday to consider allowing them to take over the old fixed-base operator building at the airport, which the port closed at the end of 2013 to turn into a mixed use development. The nonprofit arts group wants to turnit into an “arts incubator” for fledgling artists.
“When they’re big enough, they go out into the world and you bring in more organizations,” said Pam Bykonen, the arts foundation’s board chairwoman.
The hope is that the artists would move into other parts of Vista Field.
The arts facility would be run by a for-profit social purpose corporation, which puts its profits back into the arts project, Bykonen said.
The incubator would include a gallery with exhibits, concerts in the old hangar, along with common areas for collaboration and meeting and office space, she said. It also would have space for art studios, classes and rehearsals.
The port had initially planned to tear down the aging building as part of the redevelopment of Vista Field. But commissioners were supportive of the project Tuesday, asking staff to move forward with a review.
“People are always asking what is going to happen at Vista Field,” Commissioner Skip Novakovich said. “This would show them that something is happening, and it would lead to more in the future.”
The building could require some improvements, including heating and air conditioning and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Bykonen said.
The arts group would like to have the incubator open by spring 2016, but Port CEO Tim Arntzen said this was unlikely.
“That is a pretty ambitious timeline,” he said. “We really need to get together and figure out how this thing is going to work.”
The project is the second art-related facility proposed at Vista Field. A task force is also discussing an 800-seat performing arts center with the port.
Members of the task force told port commissioners Tuesday that both projects would be great for the community.
“We, the arts community, all stand together,” said Justin Raffa, artistic director for the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers.
Also Tuesday, commissioners:
▪ Approved the sale of part of the last lot available at the port’s Spaulding Business Park in the Island View area of Richland. Support, Advocacy & Resource Center is buying 8-tenths of an acre of the 1.3-acre property for $180,744.
The agency only needs part of the property, but was willing to pay the full asking price, said Amber Hanchette, the port’s director of planning and development.
SARC, which has 10 employees, plans to build a 6,000-square-foot building for $1.4 million after the lease on its existing building on Columbia Center Boulevard expires in June 2017, said Executive Director JoDee Garretson. It is about $250,000 short in its capital campaign to build a new facility.
SARC received $750,000 from the state toward the new building.
The center provides around-the-clock crisis services, support and advocacy to child abuse victims and survivors of sexual assault, as well as non-offending family members and people who have been affected by crime.
The port is already getting interest on the remaining portion of the property, Hanchette said.