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First Phase of Larson Light Project Complete

First phase of ‘Larson Light’ project complete
By Pat Muir
pmuir@yakimaherald.com

The A.E. Larson Building, the most striking silhouette in the Yakima skyline, will become a canvas
for dynamic displays of light and color starting late next month.
The $130,000 first phase of “Larson Light,” a privately funded public­art project, is installed and
ready to go, said Steve Weise, who as design chairman for the Downtown Association of Yakima
conceived the idea last year. He expects it to be operating for the first time on Nov. 21.
“Once people see it, they won’t believe it,” Weise said.

The now­completed first phase is only capable of lighting the east side of the building, facing
Millennium Plaza. Lights for the rest of the building, at the corner of Yakima Avenue and Second
Street, will be installed in six additional phases as funds are raised. The remaining phases will cost
about $400,000, Weise said.
Some of that will come at a Nov. 9 fundraiser at the John I. Haas company facility, 1600 River Road.
But there is no timeline yet for the future phases. In the meantime, the first phase will function as a
public art installation and a fundraiser in its own right.
Toward that end, the color scheme for the first week of “Larson Light” will be determined by whether
University of Washington fans or Washington State University fans donate more for the privilege of
having the 130­foot­tall Art Deco building lit with their team’s colors. The two school’s fans can bid
against each other at the Yakima Downtown Rotary Club’s annual auction on Nov. 19, with proceeds
going to the Rotary. Then the building will be lit with those colors from Nov. 21 until the annual Apple
Cup rivalry football game Nov. 25.
“It should raise a lot of money,” said Weise, owner of the Yakima company Leading Force Energy
and Design. “There will be about 750 people at that. It’s a black­tie event with Yakima’s elite.”

After that first week, the building will be lit with color schemes to reflect various times of year or
special occasions — red, white and blue for the Fourth of July; orange, white and yellow for
Halloween; red, white and green for Cinco De Mayo; red and pink for Valentine’s Day; and so forth.
The electricity for the lights will be generated by solar panels, and the design of “Larson Light” won’t
detract from how the building looks in the daylight, said Larry Hull, whose Megalodon real estate
company owns the building. Hull sees the project as part of broader downtown revitalization efforts
including the city’s $12 million Yakima Central Plaza. He foresees a future in which the building
could be lit in conjunction with public events such as concerts and holiday celebrations.
“It’s going to have a big impact,” Hull said. “It’s part of the whole rebranding of the downtown.”
The Downtown Association of Yakima will manage “Larson Light,” with the nonprofit Millennium
Foundation acting as fiduciary agent, so donations to the project will be tax­deductible.
“All the money we generate is going to go to charity,” Hull said.

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