When Evergreen Hall, one of the oldest buildings at the Washington State Fair Events Center, caught fire April 13, 2014 due to a rusted flame shelter on a hot water heater, Washington State Fair officials and fair attendees mourned the loss of memories the building long held.
“Anytime that (a fire) happens, you miss out on a lot of nostalgia,” said Glen Baskett, retired operations manager and Fair construction liaison.
Now, almost two years later, Fair officials are working quickly alongside Pease Construction Inc. to build AgriPlex, a 25,000-square-foot building, to replace Evergreen Hall. Additionally, AgriPlex will have a covered 12,000-square-foot arena space.
Construction on AgriPlex, an animal barn to support agriculture education during the annual fair, started in November, and is expected to be finished Aug. 29, Baskett said.
The $7.4 million project will include modern amenities such as fire alarms and a climate control system, and will use similar styled building materials and architecture as Evergreen Hall. While AgriPlex won’t sit on the same site where Evergreen Hall once stood, the Fair officials were able to use insurance money toward constructing the site’s latest facility.
AgriPlex is part of the Washington State Fair’s master plan to move animals to the south end of the Fairgrounds. It will have a space to load in and load out animals in the back, and people will enter through the front.
“AgriPlex is part of the Washington State Fair’s master plan to move animals to the south end of the Fairgrounds,” Baskett said. “It will have a space to load in and load out animals in the back, and people will enter through the front.”
AgriPlex will sit on a 1-acre parcel off of 5th Street SW, which was acquired in Jan. 2015. Once construction is completed, the portion of 5th Street SW that runs through the land acquisition will be converted into a plaza.
“It will be a great space to come and relax,” Baskett said. “It’s 185 by 60 feet and will have pervious concrete and removable benches — and seating with umbrellas.”
In the offseason, AgriPlex will also serve as a multi-use facility, allowing Fair officials to rent out the facility for events year-round.
“For our guest experience, it will be a positive way to see animals in an ideal situation,” said Karen LaFlamme, public relations counsel for the Washington State Fair. “It’s the first step in our master plan of moving animals to the perimeter of the Fairgrounds.”