Leaders of the city’s tourism, history and genealogy boards promise a workable plan to convert the former Red Cedar Inn building into a visitor and history venue.
The city purchased the circa-1932 building from Gallagher Electric in October 2017 for $290,000, which included $165,000 from the general fund and $125,000 from tourism taxes. The building was designated to be used as a visitor center/history museum.
The city entered into a six-month lease with Gallagher to allow time to move his business from the building.
Acting Feb. 20, aldermen agreed to offer the former owner a three-month renewable extension to his lease, with automatic three-month extensions up to one year that will give the city time to craft a plan for multiple uses of the iconic structure.
Two entities, the city tourism commission and the city history/genealogy committee, will share the space.
Alderman Carol Johnson, who serves on the history/genealogy committee, organized a walk through of the site Feb. 19.
At that time a committee of four, including Dennis Oliver, tourism commission chair; Jeff Titter, history museum founder; Janet Daniel, genealogy expert; and Marc Houseman, Washington Historical Society Museum director, were assigned the task of crafting a preliminary floor plan for the mixed use of the structure.
Oliver brought up a 2012 visitor center plan that a city committee designed to operate the Hoven House as a welcome center/history museum. He said the elements of the earlier plan could serve as a starting point for a new plan with some elements adapted to the Red Cedar building.
Then Mayor Herb Adams organized the committee charging the group to design a business plan for a welcome center that conveyed a hip small city that is simple and friendly and with a floor plan that would allow visitors to see what was in the structure when they stepped into the room.
Adams called for a seamless transition between the welcome center and the museum so it would look like one building. He asked committee members to visit other welcome centers to see how they are set up.
Then City Engineer Dan Rahn, who served on the committee, was assigned to draw floor plans and price fixtures, furniture and other items.
Adams said he wanted to see the center manned during reasonable hours and the committee to identify basic information on Pacific, extended destination areas and programs/events that would attract visitors.
At the Feb. 20 board of aldermen meeting, Johnson said history/genealogical members also had pulled out the 2012 plan and are studying elements to determine what could be updated to a modern plan.
At that meeting, Johnson asked City Administrator Steve Roth to address Gallagher’s six-month lease, which expires in March.
“It appears that he is not ready to move out of the building,” Johnson said. “The study committee would prefer that they have sufficient time to develop a good plan.”
Aldermen agreed to extend the lease for three months to renew automatically in three-month segments for a year.
Oliver said a year might not be enough time to complete plans for the building.
“We want to do this right the first time,” Oliver said.
Mike Pigg said the board of aldermen had yet to vote on what city business would be conducted in the structure.
“This building was bought with tourism funds,” Oliver said. “This is going to be a visitor center.”