PACC update: 'Patron room' could raise cost of project

Design for a
Design for a 'patron room' at the proposed Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC) in Federal Way.
— image credit: Courtesy image

The most expensive project in city history, if it's built, could add about $500,000 to the total price tag.

The Federal Way City Council held a special meeting on Sept. 5 to discuss the proposed Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC) envisioned for the city's downtown core.

Lead member of Lorax Partners on the project, P.J. Santos, was on hand to give an update to the council. Santos shared an interesting addition to the PACC: a "patron room" that he had hinted at in a presentation to the council in February.

As envisioned now, the patron room would be situated on the upper floor of the PACC, and would be like a "members only" room, where those wishing to go inside would pay a small fee, likely through donations.

"That patron room cost…was $500,000 for our project," he said. "This was not in our original program. A key piece here is about the operations of the future facility. It's not just affording (the construction) of the building and then letting it go, it's having (the PACC) be built and become its own self-performing piece so it can handle all its costs and revenues itself."

Santos had some eight-year averages for the potential benefits of the patron room. His projections showed that it could generate $18,000 a year in average patron rental, and that its estimated average patron donor revenue would be approximately $46,000. This would, under his projections, work out to an average return on investment of 12.5 percent per year, and the room itself could pay itself off within eight years.

"When you come into our facility, you're going to see that room, and you're going to want to come in. So there's an element that helps us in terms of cash flow for this project," he added.

Santos noted that cost projections for the project had lowered since the last presentation, from $31,750,000 to $31,350,000. If the patron room is included in the project, that total price tag would be approximately $31,850,000.

"This was driven with great rigor to make sure that we're building the appropriate facility for the project," Santos said. "We're not trying to gold-plate it, but also (want to) make it a special place."

There is no timeline for building the PACC, which is slated for the abandoned Toys R' Us site on 20th Avenue South. The city has promised to build the project without debt.

With the addition of the patron room bumping up the total price to $31.85 million, the city would still need to make up a difference of approximately $12.9 million, according to figures provided by Patrick Doherty, community and economic development director.

Doherty said that as it stands, the city envisions it could make that difference up with the Federal Way Coalition for the Performing Arts' (FWCPA) capital campaign effort, and through the federal government's New Markets Tax Credit Program. The city is hoping FWCPA can raise approximately $5.75 million, while the New Markets program could cover $7.2 million. There's hope that the New Markets program will be an effective source of money for the project, Doherty said.

"Community Development Entities…are the ones who are the brokers for the New Market Tax Program. There are two other CDE's in the region, in addition to the National Development Council…The two others are the King County Housing Authority and the Kitsap Housing Authority," Doherty said.

Doherty said that these CDE's make their money by being the brokers for the New Markets program, which is why Kitsap is expressing interest in the project.

"We were in contact with all three, and all three included our project in their pipeline of upcoming projects," Doherty said, referencing the fact that the CDE's application period was completed last month.

"Next year, in the first part of the year, (is when the CDE's learn) how many if any, and to what extent those credits will be extended to those CDE's. And then we would go back and talk turkey with each of them about bringing their tax credits to the project," Doherty said. "In fact, it's a large enough project that no single CDE is likely to broker the tax credits, it would be a combination, and that is, in fact, why we went to three."

Doherty and Santos both touched on what the next steps for the project would be, with both saying that would likely be a land use permit. Doherty noted the cost of that phase would be approximately $65,000, while Santos gave three different timelines on moving forward, with all being predicated on the initiation of a permitting process.

Doherty also noted a condensed version of the Sept. 5 presentation would take place at the Sept. 17 city council meeting, and that he also would be making a presentation specifically to Federal Way's business community on Sept. 19.


FWCPA's Joann Piquette was also on hand to present to the council on the group's fundraising efforts. She said the group has gotten pledges worth approximately $477,500 and has been working on grants that could potentially total out to $1.5 million or so. FWCPA is also planning on a concert/fundraising drive soon, she added.

"The coalition is in the final stages of planning the Nov. 23 combination concert/fundraising rally. We will have six performing groups, including at least one representative of the high school music programs," she said.

The concert/fundraising rally will begin at 2 p.m. at Saghalie Middle School on November 23, she added.

For those interested in more information about the PACC, visit





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