Mt. Vernon Register-News

June 7, 2013

Study to determine armory use


---- — MT. VERNON — A consultant with Merje Environments and Experiences will be visiting the King City to help decide the future of the former armory property."He will be doing an assessment to start the process of evaluating the possibilities and impacts to convert the armory into a market destination," said City Manager Ron Neibert. "This is the initial evaluation to determine, based on gross information, if the facility should be considered for further development."A year ago, a branding study, facilitated by Roger Brooks of Destination Development International, identified the armory property as a potential "Broadway Market" Brooks said he believes the concept has merit to create a destination, either for a public market or venue for events."We started talking about where a destination could be planned, and we ended up touring the armory. This is the coolest building ever. ... You have an area for a plaza and events outside, and can use the stage for entertainment," Brooks said. "Brooks further identified a Broadway Market could have 50 percent locally crafted arts, good and gifts, 25 percent locally produced farm goods and 25 percent locally prepared foods. Brooks also reported the venue could be developed as a place for special events and showings, such as a wine festival, motorcycle showcase, classic car show, pottery guild, music festivals, boat shows, hunting shows and other events.The city has obtained the armory property from the state, an asbestos study completed, and has received a grant for asbestos abatement. At this time, a local group, with the help of the Mt. Vernon Festivals Committee, are hosting monthly Market Days on the lawn of the building and in the parking lot. The first Market Day will be held this weekend.The newest study is for feasibility of the types of venues and costs involved with creating a market or event venue at the facility in the future."The consultant, who will be here next Wednesday and Thursday, is from Merje," explained Nathan McKenna, city projects manager. "John Bosio is the consultant. He will be touring the building, we will take him around, show him the special sights and he wants to learn about the entire area and its potential. He wants to get a whole picture of the feasibility of further development of the property and determine if it's feasible and worth pursuing."McKenna said Bosio will also be meeting with members of the Branding Leadership Team, and has already been sent a copy of the Branding Study completed by Roger Brooks. "He's not just looking at the facility as a market place," Neibert continued. "He is looking at its potential for destination events, shows and other uses. ... He will then present a recommendation to determine the uses, types and seasons of use, as well as the capital costs for those events."According to information from Merje, the company consists of environmental graphic designers who create "memorable places and meaningful visitor experiences that promote and enhance our client's brand, helping them achieve their strategic mission and goals. ... Our work commonly includes five basic elements : branding and identity, wayfinding and signage, architectural and visual enhancements, exhibit and interpretive design, and print materials."