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 performing arts facility and was previously interested in City-owned land in the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park, just south of Town Center.
NEW: On June 18, 2019, the City Council terminated an MOU regarding the Mercerdale location, as MICA focuses on becoming a tenant in a City-proposed commuter parking and mixed-use facility adjacent to the future light rail station.
Timeline & Past Council Discussion
At the September 17, 2018 Council Meeting, the City Council received an update on City Council Goal 4 to Preserve, Promote, and Enhance Mercer Island’s Focus on Arts and Culture (see AB 5473 for the update). The presentation included an update on the City’s comprehensive arts and culture plan, Amendment 6, discussion of MICA’s interest in the Tully’s/Parcel 12 site, as well as an update on the City’s pursuit of the certified creative district designation. Click here to watch the presentation which begins at 2:15).
Click here to read a list of common questions about the decision-making process, land-use, building permits, etc.
On August 23, 2018, the MICA Board presented a letter to the City Council expressing an interest in possibly locating a performing arts facility in the City’s Commuter Parking and Mixed-Use Project being proposed for the Tully’s/Parcel 12 site. The Council responded by supporting this use in the list of priorities that were identified in the Request for Qualifications.
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 spoke about the City's next steps and the City's community outreach plan (view City presentation). MICA Executive Director Paul Shoemaker also presented to the City Council (view MICA presentation). 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).
On February 5, 2018, YTN Executive Director Manny Cawaling sent a letter to the City Council regarding the state of YTN and the challenges they are facing in finding a permanent space.
View emails submitted to the Council mailbox from the first week of February 2018 regarding MICA, YTN, and parks.
The City and MICA signed a letter in January 2018 agreeing to re-engage the community regarding goals and policies pertaining to arts and culture, including ideas for site and design for an arts center; and exploring alternative sites (MICA “pause”).
In early October 2017, the City requested that the MICA Board consider a “pause” on their zoning code text amendment application process for siting the performing arts center at the former Recycling
Center/Bicentennial Park property located at Mercerdale Park. The MICA Board agreed to the pause and to work jointly with the City to develop a plan for moving forward.
At its February 22, 2016 meeting, the City Council discussed and authorized the Interim City Manager to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MICA to conduct a review of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project in Mercerdale Park. Also discussed and added as an exhibit to the MOU was an "Agreement to Lease, Subject to Certain Conditions Precedent.”
Frequently Asked Questions
City Review & Permitting Process
Prior to February 2018, MICA was in the early stages of obtaining approvals to construct a potential facility adjacent to Mercerdale Park south of Town Center, which would have included 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 such a project could be considered.
Any proposed MICA facility is subject to several permit, environmental and legal considerations, summarized below. As described above, in early 2018, the City paused work and review of these processes.
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.
For visualizations of the project and other design details, the City directs readers to MICA's Website.
Additional Resources & Project Documents
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 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.
On September 28, 2018 the MICA Board released the MICA Community Visioning Dialogue Findings Report, the completion of their year-long Community Visioning Dialogue sessions. The organization held 8 Input Sessions, 2 Community Visioning Sessions, and an online survey.
Documents related to MICA, including review comments and public comment, are now all available in an online archive.