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Arlington receives grant for innovation center

 

March 28, 2018 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

The former gas station property on Olympic Avenue and Fourth Street that the city of Arlington hopes to turn into an innovation center.

The city of Arlington has received a $275,000 grant to remodel one of their downtown properties into an "innovation center" meant to support upcoming entrepreneurs.

The grant funds will allow the city to create a space for classes and help for locals who hope to start a new business.

"The funds will fund the renovation of the Howell property that was purchased by the city," said Sarah Lopez, community revitalization project manager for the city of Arlington.

"Basically a remodel of the entire building," she said.

The property on Fourth Street and Olympic Avenue was formerly a Shell gas station and is currently empty.

The remodel will include a new roof, new windows and new doors for the building, as well as ADA-compliant restrooms, concrete work, and plumbing and electrical improvements.

The restrooms would be publicly accessible from the exterior.

The planned innovation center is meant to encourage people with ideas for businesses to start up in the city.

It came out of talks for a "maker space" in the city, however "there won't be a lot of tools like some other 'maker spaces'," said Lopez.

The main focus of the building would be education instead.

"The garage would be an innovation space to have classes and have people get together," said Lopez.

A computer lab would also give access to range of software for new businesses as well and would likely include access to a 3D printer, said Lopez.

Lopez said that the exact programs offered are not set in stone yet.

"We don't have a complete plan of what the space will be yet," she said.

The city already has some classes lined up though.

"There will be a series of classes presented in partnership with the Northwest Innovation Resource Center," said Lopez.

The first of those classes will be on May 8 at the Arlington City Chambers and will be about "design thinking principles."

The project originated in plans to help the local economy recover after the Oso landslide in 2014.

"The idea for a space like this was originally in the North Stillaguamish Economic Revitalization Plan," said Lopez.

That plan made it into the America's Best Communities competition and has been carried forward by city staff since then, said Lopez.

When the downtown property was up for sale, the city took the opportunity to continue those plans.

"The property became available and it was the perfect spot for it," said Lopez.

The building will also have a 'pocket park' built next to it to provide a space for visitors to rest while walking through downtown Arlington.

The pocket park has also been funded through another grant.

Lopez said that the sale of the property is still being processed but is expect to be closed within the next couple of weeks.

Soon after that the city plans to send the remodel project out to bid.

 

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