Aug. 15—Leaders of the planned $48 million performing arts center in Spokane Valley dug gold shovels into dark brown soil Saturday morning, signifying the official groundbreaking of the three-story, 59,000-square-foot facility that is expected to open in 2024.
"It's been a really long time coming, but here we are on the land with the dirt below us and we are getting ready to start construction of a facility," said Susanna Baylon, member of the Advisory Council for the Idaho Central Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center.
The structure will be the new home of the Spokane Valley Summer Theatre, which will be renamed to Idaho Central Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center when the project is complete. Idaho Central Credit Union purchased naming rights to the building.
About 100 people sat or stood Saturday in the footprint of the building, which will be built on a vacant 5-acre lot at 13609 E. Mansfield Ave., next to the Tru by Hilton hotel and near Mirabeau Park and the Spokane River.
"Today, we break ground on a once-in-a-lifetime legacy project for our region for generations to come," said Yvonne Johnson, the visionary behind the project, according to Baylon, and its executive artistic director. "The reach and impact of the Idaho Central Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center is far greater than we realize or can even imagine."
Christina Lynch, president of the board of directors, also called the project a legacy, while praising Johnson's efforts.
"It's not for today, its not for this summer," Lynch said. "It's for 100 years. It is for all the children who start young and you're watching them go through the years pursuing their careers."
Johnson has dreamed of a new theater for years.
"This dream developed, and that dream is here," Lynch said. "It's reality."
The facility will include a main stage with over 480 seats, a 175-seat studio theater designed for flexible seating and more innovative productions, and 300 free parking spaces. The center will also boast a multipurpose special event space with an 800-square-foot outdoor patio balcony for up to 400 guests.
David Lynch, board treasurer and Christina Lynch's husband, called the new space a "teaching center" that will focus on youth.
"We have so much talent that needs to be developed, and that's what this facility is about," he said. "It's for the kids."
Christina Lynch said the building will not only benefit Spokane Valley, but people from Missoula to Seattle and up to the Canadian border.
"We're all gonna benefit from this," she said. "This is a legacy right here in Spokane Valley."
Marnie Rorholm, managing director, said the Spokane Valley Summer Theatre and soon-to-be Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center is the only professional performing arts organization and educational conservatory between Missoula and Moses Lake. She said the new center will not only have an impact on arts and culture, but on hospitality, tourism and the economy.
Garco Construction of Spokane will start work this fall with the completion date slated for June 2024, according to a news release from the performing arts center.
The project, which is privately funded, has raised $18 million with $30 million to go, Georgia Oxford, capital campaign manager, told The Spokesman-Review.
"It will be a physical building, but it really will house hopes, dreams and possibilities for our region, and that is why it is super exciting," Baylon said.