United Learning Center Takes Another Step Toward Construction

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The Centralia City Council voted Tuesday to approve the umbrella agreement which outlines the roles of the partners in the construction and operation of the United Learning Center (ULC).

“This is really the first true step in this process. It sets the tone for the whole project,” Centralia City Manager Rob Hill said. “Everybody just wants to know that the partners in this are going forward in good faith.”

The ULC, to be constructed at 417 N. Pearl Street, has been described as an “innovative nonprofit center that connects parents and caregivers to an affordable early learning atmosphere for children ages 18 months to 5 years.” 

The facility is planned to be a 45,000 square foot, multi-story building with multiple classrooms, a gym, a playground and a capacity for 150 to 200 kids.

“An umbrella agreement does not legally bind the parties to any specific course of action. It is a visionary document for projects that have multiple parties involved. The agreement generally sets forth the project scope, estimated costs and the legal documents that will be needed to complete the project,” the agreement states. 

The partners listed in the umbrella agreement are the Early Learning Center, the Boys & Girls Club, the Discover! Children’s Museum and the City of Centralia.

To cover the costs of construction of the United Learning Center, the United Way of Lewis County will contribute $3 million, the City of Centralia will contribute $1.9 million, the Discover! Children’s Museum will contribute about $1 million and the Boys & Girls Club “will contribute funds for the cost of construction of the children’s museum and to cover a portion of the costs of the overall United Learning Center,” according to the umbrella agreement.

The city owns the land that the ULC will be built upon and will ground lease parcels of the land to each of the partners for the construction for an initial term of 20 years with an option to renew. The umbrella agreement gives an overview of the construction process in two phases — the first commencing on or before April 30, 2021, and is expected to be completed by the same date the following year.

“The second phase is dependent in part on the availability of funds and amounts that the other participating agencies may devote,” the agreement states. 

In August, the Centralia City Council approved the allocation of $1.9 million in city funds collected through the real estate excise tax to go toward the construction of the United Learning Center after hearing letters of support from over a dozen community members and testimony from State Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis.

Many of the letters of support of the ULC cited the lack of childcare in Lewis County and the need for more early learning opportunities for kids. 

Some of the upcoming documents that need to be signed to continue moving forward with the ULC construction process are the ground leases, the interlocal agreement, shared parking agreement and financing documents.

The United Learning Center Umbrella Agreement can be viewed in the city council meeting agenda on the city’s website — www.cityofcentralia.com/index.asp.

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