After three town halls to talk about the future of the Highland Park Improvement Club HQ – ravaged by fire seven months ago – it’s close to time for decisions: What should be built? That will dictate how much it could cost, how much needs to be raised, and how long it would take. If you missed last Wednesday’s third town hall, here’s the recording:
The design team for the project, Highland Park’s own Wittman Estes, shared concepts for the building’s potential size/shape – from humble to grand – as well as concepts for how its interior might be laid out. But the amount of money HPIC will get from insurance – up to $750,000 – would only cover a very basic building; though no price tags were provided for the possibilities, it’s clear anything beyond the basics will require fundraising. Since last week’s town hall, HPIC has met with a professional fundraiser, though the discussion was very early-stage – no conclusions yet, HPIC’s Kay Kirkpatricktold us. She stressed during the town hall that they don’t want to do something that might eventually jeopardize HPIC’s ability to keep the building maintained and to guarantee continued community ownership.
One idea brought up repeatedly during the town hall was the building’s past and potential future use as a music/entertainment venue. Participants observed that West Seattle remains low on performance space, and a rebuilt HPIC has the potential to help fill that void even more than it did pre-fire/pre-pandemic.
Another key point was to remind everyone that while SW Holden, which runs along the building’s south side, is choked with West Seattle Bridge closure detour traffic right now, it will be much different by the time the new building opens – next year if things go well.
Toward the town hall’s end, it was suggested that a deadline be set for ending public comment at this phase of the process, so the architects can get on with creating a preliminary design for the next meeting. Kirkpatrick told WSB this afternoon that there’s no date yet for that potential deadline, nor for the next meeting. So if you have something to say, but weren’t able to attend the town hall, you can email email@example.com. That’s also how to step up for volunteer help that HPIC sorely needs with maintaining the building site – particularly landscaping – while it’s idle. And as we’ve noted before, while the entire community has been invited into the rebuilding-planning process, HPIC members get the final say – here’s how to join.