Downtown Auburn Arts Center Set to Open in 2023

Initially, the plan called for the future Auburn Arts and Culture Center to open in August or September.

Obviously, those months have passed, and no art center.

It seems the transformation of Auburn’s old post office — an 8,000-square-foot, 85-year-old building — into downtown has since barked its shins over some pesky supply chain issues.

Two weeks ago, Daryl Faber, director of Auburn Parks, Arts and Recreation, revised time estimates he made last spring.

“We’re hoping for the first quarter of 2023,” Faber said, citing roofing issues, a cupola issue and a glass door, among other things.

When the project finally breaks through these hurdles and the doors open, city leaders predict the center will be a force to bring the community together in celebration of the arts – and at the same time energize the city’s downtown. .

With the fire losses of two key downtown buildings over the past five years – the Heritage Apartments in 2017 and the Max House Apartments directly across East Main Street in 2021 – the downtown could benefit of some revitalization right now.

City officials say the new facility will significantly increase Auburn’s arts programming and add to the artistic opportunities available in the South Puget Sound area. It will provide programming that empowers diverse communities by providing the opportunity to unite in the common language of the arts.

The building is listed on the King County Landmarks Register, the Washington State Heritage Register, and the National Register of Historic Places.

The original post office was built in 1937 as a project by the Franklin Roosevelt Administration Works Project Administration on land donated by pioneer Levi Ballard, the city’s first postmaster in 1886.

In 1964, when the current post office was built two blocks west, King County turned the 27-year-old building into a public health facility. It remained a public health facility until 2009 when the King County Health Department moved to new digs on Auburn Way North.

When King County vacated the building, it sat empty for almost seven years. In August 2016, however, the city of Auburn, eager to become a thriving arts and cultural hub, seized the opportunity and purchased it from King County.

According to the latest information available on the city’s website, the initial fundraising goal in 2018 was $2.95 million. The estimate for the first phase of work was $1.525 million, with ground floor renovations requiring a lobby and staging area, gallery spaces, classrooms, a guest artist’s studio , cafe and concession area, bathroom, office space and building – extensive systems.

The estimate for the second phase of the work was $1.425 million and will include flexible spaces for artistic creation, rehearsal spaces and classrooms. Much of the funding comes from grants.

William E. Bennett