Getting a read on a site

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Attendees of the Dinner in White on the Columbia view silent auction items, Sept. 9 at Marina Park, in Washougal. The event served as a fundraiser for a new library in Washougal. (Contributed photo courtesy of Terri London)

The former location of a First Interstate Bank building in downtown Washougal could be the future site of a new Washougal Community Library — as well as residential, retail and restaurant spaces.

Fort Vancouver Regional Library District Executive Director Amelia Shelley received informal permission from FVRL Board of Trustees members during their Sept. 18 meeting to start working toward a formal letter of intent with Lone Wolf Development LLC owner Wes Hickey to build a new library at 1625 Main St.

The mixed-use project, proposed by Lone Wolf Development, would be on the block between Pendleton Way and Main, Durgan and “C” streets. The 30,000-square-foot vacant site is located next to Reflection Plaza, Washougal Town Square and the U.S. Post office.

FVRL Communications and Marketing Director Tak Kendrick said Shelley will begin work on the details of the FVRL District’s intention to lease or lease purchase a 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot space on the first floor of the Lone Wolf Development.

“FVRL’s portion of the finished building would be less than 50 percent of the project,” Kendrick said. “If Amelia is able to negotiate the agreement, she would bring the letter of intent to the library board to vote on at a future date.

“Lone Wolf’s associates would construct the building, and FVRL would bid out the design and construction of the leased space to our specifications once the shell is finished,” he added.

The current Washougal library, at 1661 “C” St., is 2,400 square feet.

Hickey said the proposed mixed-use project would need site plan approval and building permits from the city. The site would include 20 to 35 residential apartments.

“Separate from the area that may be occupied by the library, the project may also include covered outdoor seating to be shared by two or three micro restaurants,” Hickey said.

“There are many details to resolve and a lot of hard work in front of us for this to become a reality, but hopefully we will be able to help and assist FVRL in bringing a new library to Washougal that is enjoyed by the community for many years to come,” he added.

Kendrick said the new Washougal Community Library would provide more study space, a public meeting room, more access to the internet and designated space for children and teens.

The FVRL District has $1 million set aside in reserve funds to serve as seed money for fundraising efforts in Washougal.

“We want to get through the next step with the letter of intent before we go too far into budget planning,” Kendrick said. “Our intent all along is to first make sure we have a site, then we can work with the community to map out all the needs, hopes and dreams for the new library. We wouldn’t want to develop a full budget until we’d gotten to that point.”

He said it is probably premature to speculate on whether funding a new library would involve a bond measure for voters to decide on, until the siting, needs assessment and budgeting are figured out.

“Our hope all along is that the community would be able to finance a good portion of the costs through fundraising activities through both the FVRL Foundation and the Friends of the Washougal Community Library, rather than go to bond,” Kendrick said.

The site at 1625 Main St., was mentioned in 2014 as meeting criteria such as accessibility and visibility, for a future library. The 5,500-square-foot former First Interstate Bank building was demolished in November 2016. The 1970s-era building was last occupied by Green Arbor more than a decade ago.