On Stage

A Hot Listing

Firehouse PAC seeks new owner

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

For Sale by Owner: Renovated historic 1927 fire station seeks new creative caretaker. This 3,500-square-foot turnkey building, currently operating under the Firehouse Performing Arts Center moniker, features space for classes, workshops and performances, as well as a working cafe (with a fireplace!), offices, a small neighborhood park and two additional city lots (bringing the total square footage to 10,000 square feet). Asking price: $1,000,000.

Yep, you read that right. While Matt Christman and his wife Alona have yet to place an ad in any Whatcom County real estate guidebook, the duo are ready to let the public know that the time has come for them to put the Firehouse PAC up for sale.

Matt Christman says the decision wasn’t an easy one. When he borrowed the money from his family more than a decade ago to turn an old fire hall in historic Fairhaven into an affordable space for artists, educators and community advocates to rent, he did so with the aim to connect our community via the power of creativity.

And, although the Firehouse PAC has been successful in its goal—the intimate performance and rehearsal space has hosted everyone from dance and theater groups to burgeoning and world-class musicians, circus performers, experts on Buddhism and many, many things in between—Christman says the recent death of his father and the waning health of his elderly mother find him wanting to be able to pay his family back in a timely manner. But, at this point, he doesn’t want to sell to just anyone.

“The process of purchasing the Firehouse was such a public process I feel I owe it to the community to let them know our intention to sell, as well as let them know that the sale will be preferentially oriented to a group or individual that is interested in keeping it a community-oriented performing arts facility, while allowing me to meet the amount I need to pay the family back,” Christman says. “If an individual or group is not forthcoming with an offer of this type by June, we will at that point entertain buyers with other interests for the purchase.”

Christman notes the space is operating in the black (a good sign for potential investors) and says the additional unbuilt lots on the property mean that buyers with big ideas would have the space to implement them. He’s more than willing to talk with interested parties about what the property is zoned for, and hopes the preferred buyer would either operate the space themselves or lease it to another group that would want to run it for the good of the community.

Until this point, Christman says he and Alona have been putting the word out about the sale through the grapevine, and have talked to a couple of interested parties about what it would take to purchase it. But as the self-imposed June deadline draws near, he wants to make sure the public is aware of the unique opportunity that currently exists for them to make a mark on the creative scene.

If he’s able to pass off the torch to someone who’s also interested in bettering Fairhaven’s cultural prospects, Christman says he’ll do so with the knowledge that he and Alona have spent the past 10 years putting their hearts and souls into the endeavor.

“It has been a challenging road, but I have loved creating the Firehouse Performing Arts Center with my wife, my father and family and have dearly loved watching the community arts thrive within its warm walls,” Christman says. “It really has served the purpose I envisioned, as well as continued the tradition set within its walls by the hard-working firemen who continue to serve our fine community.”

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