Beaverton breaks ground on 'magical' arts center
Patricia Reser came more than ready to make her dream of a regional arts center in Beaverton a reality.
She brought her own ceremonial shovel to the groundbreaking Wednesday, Nov. 13, alongside those provided for Mayor Denny Doyle and three City Council members.
Two years from now, the doors will open for the center, which her family foundation is the major donor at $13 million. The amount is about half the total raised from individuals, businesses and foundations. The other $21 million will come from city revenue bonds, repaid from city lodging taxes.
Reser had plenty of company for the big moment.
Hundreds of people sat or stood in a large clear tent provided by the city at Southwest Crescent Street and Rose Biggi Avenue, although the sun burst through when the choir sang, "All You Need Is Love."
Reser seized on a line from the 1967 Beatles song — "There is nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be" — to describe how she came to her vision of an arts center.
"There was something magical about that idea of the arts, because when it was around, it made me feel happier and more energized," she said. "Soon that idea began to demand attention. It grew bigger. I would begin hesitantly to think about it in public, and soon I realized it was OK if my idea was different, too big, and even a little crazy. I felt more alive, which also encouraged other people to think big, and then to think bigger.
"I soon became aware that someone had a similar idea: Mayor Doyle."
Doyle saw the center not only as a place to celebrate the arts, but to add to an economic renaissance downtown with new residences, restaurants and other businesses. It became part of the city's 2010 Community Vision Plan.
"Just like that, we had found the link between what we can imagine and what we can create," Reser said.
"So what do you do with that idea? Well, you change the world. Here we are today, ready to put shovels in the ground to bring that idea to life — and change the world."
Doyle, who is completing 11 years as mayor, was more prosaic. "This center is a personal dream come true for me. I've had the pleasure to see it progress to where we are today," he said.
"Today is a celebration. It is the realization of millions of dollars raised … hundreds of hours of design and planning, and years of community input and visionary insights from so many people. I say this is a once-in-a-generation moment for all of us."
The center will have a 550-seat theater on two levels, a gallery, a lobby and event and rehearsal space. Its projected construction cost ballooned by almost $5 million, but increased private fundraising was combined with deferrals of a $1.5 million city loan for startup costs and a planned $2.5 million building endowment.
The Beaverton Arts Foundation, which Pat Reser leads as board chair, still has to raise about $1.7 million to reach its goal. It has reached 96%.
Skanska USA Building is the general contractor. Opsis Architecture and Gerding Edlen, both Portland firms, will continue to provide services.
Next to the center will be a seven-story, 350-car parking garage. The first floor will contain 6,700 square feet for retail use, plus space for shared electrical and mechanical systems, storage, and recycling and trash. Some of the parking spaces (82) will be reserved for residents of The Lofts, a condominium complex that will lose surface parking with the construction of the arts center.
The $24 million garage is financed by the Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency through a special revenue bond. It is scheduled for completion in spring 2021.
"We made sure that the urban redevelopment agency could fund parking garages," said Councilor Marc San Soucie, chairman of the agency board. "It is completely legal," by way of a 2008 city charter amendment that cleared the way for voter approval of an urban renewal district in 2011.
State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, whose district includes part of Beaverton, said the state contributed $1.5 million toward the arts center from bond proceeds repaid by the Oregon Lottery.
"I was excited that I was able to help advocate for some funding from the state for this project," she said, "and convince my colleagues in the Legislature that this was an important project for us to engage in, and that it will have ripple effects well beyond the center of Beaverton."
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Beaverton, whose congressional district office is a few steps away from the arts center, has been a leading advocate of adding the "A" in arts to science, technology, engineering and math.
In a letter read by an aide, Bonamici wrote, "Watching a performance or looking critically at a work of art inspires us to consider new perspectives and the develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the world around us."
Taste of performances
More than 100 singers were drawn from the ISing Choir, Portland Gay Men's Chorus, Portland Lesbian Choir, Bridging Voices of Portland, Synergy ensemble from Arts and Communication Magnet School and the Southridge High School choir in Beaverton. They performed "True Colors," on which Maddie Green was the soloist, and were conducted by Stephen Galvan, artistic director of ISing.
Thomas Lauderdale, leader of Pink Martini, joined with the choir and Marilyn Keller was the lead singer on "All You Need Is Love."
Oregon poet laureate Kim Stafford read his poem "Nest Filled," which ends: "In an era of stormy weather, build your/sturdy nest, and fill it with the future."
Members of Big Horn Brass also performed.
Native American consultant Arlie Neskahi opened with a ceremony that paid tribute to the home of the Tualatin, one of the northern Kalapuya tribes that once inhabited Western Oregon, including modern-day Washington County.
"It (arts center) will bring many communities together to share, and have joy and even shed tears for who we are as humankind," Neskahi said. "It is their wish that through this work, they can rise above and be strong — that with this work, with all the things that are going on in their lives today, this will be a great place."
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