By Edwin Oscar Gutierrez, Jr.
Olympia has concluded the transfer of the National Guard Armory from the Washington Military Department to the city government.
In a statement released on its Facebook page last Sat., Feb. 19, City Manager Jay Burney signed the closing document assuming ownership of the Armory to the City of Olympia, which it plans to convert into a creative campus for culture and the arts.
In its Engage Olympia website, the city through the Parks, Arts and Recreation Service is currently seeking ideas from the public on how to use the 41,160 sq. ft. Armory and the nearby 9,700 sq. ft. outbuilding.
“There is physical capacity and flexibility to shape the program to the community’s needs,” says the website.
Plans being discussed for the Armory include community events space, rehearsal rooms, maker’s and tech labs, exhibit space, studios, admin offices, a restaurant or café, an organization incubator, a component of affordable housing, a larger resident organization, even a city department office space.
According to its Facebook page, the city will legally own the Armory on Feb. 28, when the deed has been recorded and the paperwork finalized.
Turning the Armory into an arts facility is the city’s response to public clamor for a place devoted to promoting local art and culture.
“For three decades community members have advocated for a dedicated art space in Olympia to support the arts as integral to Olympia’s way of life; encourage community growth through creativity and innovation; use the arts to connect people, ideas, and place; and operate from an equity framework.”
There will be a housewarming on Mar. 19, 1 p.m., to commemorate the Armory’s transfer, where visitors are invited to hear discussions on what to do with the building.
Interested persons who would like to share ideas on how the Armory can be used may visit the Olympia Armory Building: Creative Campus website.