We have some exciting news to share with you.
As you may have read or heard in recent news reports, the City of Wenatchee — which owns the Wenatchee Convention Center — is planning a major renovation and expansion of the facility.
A study several years ago strongly supported the need for a renovation of the Convention Center, in order for the facility to remain competitive with other convention centers statewide in the highly competitive convention and tourism business. The renovation and expansion costs will be paid for by taxes assessed on hotel rooms, commonly known as “hotel/motel taxes.” In general, this means that out-of-town hotel guests will be paying for the upgrades, not local resident tax dollars. The convention center is an enormous economic driver in our community and all of us should be cheering for the Convention Center to remain successful.
The expansion design adds an addition to the west side of the Convention Center in the courtyard area, while still preserving the water fountain. The expansion brings the new addition up to Wenatchee Avenue level grade, making it likely that convention attendees will more frequently access retail shops in the downtown core.
For context, recall that while the City owns the ground in which the Numerica Performing Arts Center sits, our 501c(3) nonprofit (Numerica PAC) owns and operates the building. Historically, the City has been enormously supportive of the Numerica PAC, but we are a separate organization from the City-owned Convention Center.
The Convention Center expansion touches our south glass lobby wall, both downstairs and upstairs. In doing so, the expansion will add the following features, which will be available to Numerica PAC users on a shared basis: an additional elevator, new drinking fountains, additional bathrooms, and expanded lobby space.
“Probably the most common criticism the Numerica PAC receives is that the Wenatchee Convention Center’s current bathrooms and elevator are too far from our lobby and we have no drinking fountain,” said Numerica PAC Executive Director, J. Woody Lotts. “Patrons also know how overcrowded our lobby can get at intermission and after any large performance, ” added Lotts, “This renovation of the Convention Center and the use of the new shared space addresses each of those issues. It’s a huge win for the Convention Center and for downtown businesses, but as a byproduct of the renovation our Numerica PAC patrons get a secondary win,” said Lotts.
“While the Numerica PAC and Convention Center are separate organizations, we share a common footprint, a front door, and other common areas,” said City of Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz. “The Convention Center expansion needed to take this into account and the design team was able to come up with a concept that enhances the Convention Center, the Numerica PAC, and our downtown,” Kuntz added. “I want to thank the Numerica PAC staff and Board for being solution-orientated and open to creative ideas and opportunities,” said Kuntz.
“This is really a classic example of thinking big picture and holistically – a classic win-win,” said Steve Robinson, Chairperson of the Numerica PAC Board of Directors. “I want to thank Major Kuntz, City Council Members, City staff, and Linda Herald’s staff at the Wenatchee Convention Center for their innovative and collaborative thinking here,” added Robinson.
While more detailed design work is now underway, preliminary schematic designs of the renovation and expansion — including placement of the new elevator, drinking fountains, bathrooms, and expanded lobby space — can be seen in the slide deck below.
The Wenatchee City Council will consider moving forward with the project in late 2023. If approved, the project would begin construction in early 2024.
If you have questions, comments, or any thoughts to share, we encourage you to contact Numerica PAC Executive Director J. Woody Lotts at [email protected].
Of course, we will update you with more detailed design plans as they become available.
Woody Lotts Steve Robinson
Executive Director, Numerica PAC Board chairperson, Numerica PAC