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$30,000 given to proposed Vista Art Center theater

Bechtel National donated $30,000 toward a proposed Vista Arts Center on the site of the former air field in Kennewick.
Bechtel National donated $30,000 toward a proposed Vista Arts Center on the site of the former air field in Kennewick. Tri-City Herald

The proposed Vista Arts Center got a boost this week from Bechtel National.

The Hanford contractor building the vitrification plant donated $30,000 to the Arts Center Task Force, which is working on raising $25 million through donations and grants for a theater and visual arts center. It would be built in the Vista Field area of Kennewick.

The contribution brings the number of donors contributing $20,000 or more to seven. More than 100 businesses, organizations and people have made smaller donations.

“We believe the arts are a key component of a culturally vibrant community, and we want to invest in its future,” said Peggy McCullough, a Bechtel National senior vice president.

Unlike other entertainment proposals that have come before the community, we are not seeking sales or property tax increases. Therefore, it’s critical that the community step up if they want to make the Vista Arts Center a reality.

Julie Wiley, fund-raising chairwoman

The Port of Kennewick signed a letter of intent with the Arts Center Task Force early this spring to sell 2.2 acres of land for $10,000, which would put the Vista Art Center at the middle of a planned urban village.

A former airport covered 10 acres in the center of the Tri-Cities.

The Vista Art Center is planned as a catalyst for further development of the area as an arts and entertainment district.

If all goes well, the Arts Center Task Force could buy the property and begin construction in about three years, with the center possibly opening in 2021.

Plans call for an 800-seat theater with full acoustics and technical support, an art gallery and a multipurpose room that could be used as a smaller performance venue, meeting space or education space.

“Unlike other entertainment proposals that have come before the community, we are not seeking sales or property tax increases,” said Julie Wiley, fund-raising chairwoman for the arts center. “Therefore, it’s critical that the community step up if they want to make the Vista Arts Center a reality.”

The center is unrelated to the Kennewick Public Facilities district’s plan to expand the Three Rivers Convention Center with a 2,300-seat Broadway-style theater. Kennewick voters rejected a sales tax that would have fund that project, called “The Link,” last August.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews

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