Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA)
Mercer Island Center for the Arts is a Washington State nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)3 organization formed to promote arts performance, exhibition and education on Mercer Island. The organization has advocated for the construction of a 28,300 square feet facility located on City-owned land in the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park, just south of Town Center.
Prior to February 2018 (see update below), MICA was in the beginning stages of obtaining approvals to construct the facility, which would include performance spaces, classrooms, and storage space for the Mercer Island Farmers Market. There are a number of steps required in the City’s review process before approval of the project can be considered - see below.
The City review and permitting of this proposal is currently on a pause while the City and MICA work together to develop a plan for moving forward with a performing arts center.
For visualizations of the project and other design details, the City directs readers to MICA's Website.
Feb 2018 Update
NEW! - At the February 6, 2018 City Council Meeting, Julie Underwood, City Manager presented the Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) Update (see AB 5389). She provided the history of Youth Theatre Northwest (YTN) looking for a new location, the City's committee to identify alternative locations and determine evaluation criteria of potential sites, the formation of the Mercer Island Center for the Arts, and the City's support for MICA's mission and MICA's SEPA review process. She explained that the City requested a "pause" and MICA agreed to the pause and to work jointly with the City to develop a plan for moving forward. She spoke about the City's next steps and the City's community outreach plan (view City presentation).
Click here to read a list of common questions about the decision-making process, land-use, building permits, etc.
MICA Executive Director Paul Shoemaker also presented to the City Council, detailing MICA's organizational structure, noting their arts partners, how they are and can be an active part of the MI community, and what arts does for a city. He spoke about the economic impact of performing arts centers in the Puget Sound Region, and what they have learned from each of them. He then presented an overview of MICA's next 100 days including beginning a community engagement process (view MICA presentation).
YTN Executive Director Manny Cawaling sent a letter to the City Council on February 5, 2018, regarding the state of YTN and the challenges they are facing in finding a permanent space.
At the meeting over 45 members of the community expressed their concerns and support to the City Council regarding Youth Theatre Northwest, the Mercer Island Center for the Arts project, and other arts and performance space needs. To view the video of the presentations by the City and MICA to the City Council as well as the public comment, click here and then click on “AB 5389 Mercer Island Center for the Arts Update” to start the video (scroll to 1:35:00 for public comment).
View emails submitted to the Council mailbox from the first week of February 2018 regarding MICA, YTN and parks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Documents related to MICA, including review comments and public comment, are now all available in an online archive
Previous Council Discussion
At its February 22, 2016 meeting, the City Council discussed and authorized the Interim City Manager to execute a MOU with MICA to conduct a review of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project in Mercerdale Park. Also discussed was an "Agreement to Lease, Subject to Certain Conditions Precedent.”
The proposed MICA facility is subject to several permit, environmental and legal considerations, summarized below. As described above, the City has paused work and review of these processes.
City Review & Permitting Process
Environmental Review (SEPA) (File SEP16-015): The proposal is currently undergoing a review of its potential environmental impacts. This review is subject to the requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and City Codes. An applicant completes an “environmental checklist” which is then reviewed by City staff and the City’s outside consultants.
The outcome of a SEPA review is a determination of whether the proposal will have: 1) No environmental impacts needing mitigation (called a “Determination of Non-Significance” or DNS); 2) Some environmental impacts which can be adequately mitigated through changes to the proposal (called a “Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance” or MDNS); or 3) Probable significant adverse environmental impacts (called a “Determination of Significance” or DS, which then requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement or EIS).
Read September 11, 2017 press release on this topic
Zoning Code Text Amendment (ZTR16-002): MICA has also requested an amendment to the City’s development code (zoning code) to support the proposed project. The proposed project would be in the Public Institution (“P”) zone. The proposed amendments to the P zone rules and regulations would modify Mercer Island City Code (MICC) chapter 19.05 to allow a center for the arts in Mercerdale Park, with primary uses of theatre, lecture hall, classroom, performing studio, visual arts studio, exhibition gallery, gathering and meeting spaces, café and bar, and accessory functions thereof. The amendment would also allow parking for the center for the arts to be located off-site.
Read September 11, 2017 press release on this topic
Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA16-001): MICA has withdrawn its request to amend the City's Comprehensive Plan.
Future Permits and Approvals Needed: In addition to the items described above, future permits and approvals needed for the proposed MICA project would include a lease from the City, a subdivision that creates a separate parcel of land for the lease area (required by State law), and various construction permits. More information on each of these processes will be added when details are available.
Due to the scope of this proposed project and the significant level of community engagement on the topic, the City receives many requests for related permitting and planning information.
For efficiency, the City has provided some links to key project documents on this page, and an FAQ page. For other items, residents are asked to submit a Public Records Request in person or online.