By Chad Sokol | Daily Inter Lake | August 26, 2021
A $26 million multipurpose building under construction at Flathead Valley Community College is on track for a soft opening in spring 2022, President Jane Karas said Wednesday.
During a tour of the construction site on the first day of the fall semester, Karas said the roughly 58,000-square-foot Paul D. Wachholz College Center will include a gymnasium as big as a full-size basketball court, a 1,000-seat theater with a back-of-house area for performers, a smaller recital hall, a large lobby for hosting events, classrooms and an art gallery.
“I think it’ll be a great opportunity for our students, for the college and for our community as a whole,” Karas said, adding the building will provide “endless possibilities” for Flathead residents to experience music and theater performances that currently require driving several hours to venues in Missoula.
The performance hall also will be home to the Glacier Symphony.
“Partnering with hotels and restaurants, especially during the shoulder season, to bring more people into the valley to stay here and help support our local economy, is something we think is another benefit of this building,” Karas added.
The college raised about $18 million and secured a $9.75 million loan for the project before the Covid-19 pandemic. Swank Enterprises is leading the construction and Cushing Terrell is the architecture firm on the project.
“We were lucky we bid it out right before Covid … but we are still experiencing some supply chain slowdowns,” Karas said.
She noted FVCC is still raising funds by offering naming rights for seats in the theater and various wings of the building.
“You can still put your name on a seat for $5,000,” she said.
The shell of the building is nearly complete, and crews have just begun sealing up some of the interior and exterior walls.
Karas said once the building is completed next spring, FVCC will invite the symphony and local artists from the college and the community to perform in the new venue, before kicking off a season of headliner events later in the year.