Ignite cda pledges $700k to Museum of North Idaho

Walkers pass by the future new home of the Museum of North Idaho on Wednesday.


Staff Writer | August 26, 2021 1:06 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Ignite cda, Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, has pledged $700,000 to site development work for the new home of the Museum of North Idaho.

“This is a huge opportunity for the museum,” said Britt Thurman, Museum of North Idaho executive director. “We are grateful they are supporting us and our vision.”

Funds will be used for areas including landscaping, a parking lot, irrigation system and interpretative elements.

The money will also count toward a campaign to raise $1.5 million — it’s up to $900,000 — by the end of September so the museum is eligible to apply for a matching federal grant of $500,000.

“Our dollars will go even further and we can do even more,” Thurman said Wednesday.

Tony Berns, ignite cda executive director, said the agency’s board made the decision last week to help the museum. It will not transfer money to the museum, but will pay bills submitted for site development.

“We pledged to support their desired improvements that will be placed on the city property,” Berns said.

Ignite cda owned the 1-acre site several years ago and had development plans for it. It was appraised at $965,000 in 2017.

“We had a lot of interest in that,” Berns said.

But after some outcry and discussions, ignite cda’s board agreed to transfer the property to the city, which in turn agreed to a 99-year lease at $10 a year with the museum.

Berns said ignite cda is glad to partner with the museum and the city.

“We already have a million dollars in land in the project,” he said.

Berns said the money will come from the Lake District, one of four that generate funds for ignite cda through tax increment financing.

The Lake District, which expires at the end of this year, was formed by the City Council in 1997. It originally encompassed 729 core acres, including portions of midtown, downtown and Northwest Boulevard, according to ignite cda’s website. In 2016, 58 acres were de-annexed resulting in $337,000 in annual revenue to the benefit of taxpayers, the city of Coeur d’Alene and other taxing districts.

Major projects within the Lake District include McEuen Park revitalization, Riverstone development, Higher Education Campus, Kroc Community Center and Parkside Tower.

Currently, The Museum of North Idaho occupies a 4,371-square-foot building by City Park. After 40 years there, officials say the museum collection has outgrown the space.

It is planning an 11,500-square-foot facility to house exhibits, art and educational resources, with a goal to be a premier regional museum.

The $5.5 million project includes renovations to the J.C. White House, site design and development, an expanded lower level wing, climate-controlled spaces and a rooftop terrace for its new future home at McEuen Park.

The goal is to open by spring 2023.

Thurman said the museum plans to form community focus groups soon that will collect input on what the public wants to see in the museum.

She encourages people to visit the museum, learn more about its expansion plans and yes, donate.

“We really want this to be a community-built museum,” she said.