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Handle on Business : Groundbreaking held for new courthouse

Artist rendering of new Federal Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene to be built just south of the Hecla Building at 6450 N. Mineral Drive.
 (Courtesy of ALSC architects / The Spokesman-Review)
Artist rendering of new Federal Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene to be built just south of the Hecla Building at 6450 N. Mineral Drive. (Courtesy of ALSC architects / The Spokesman-Review)

This week is a double winner. We get a sneak preview of Coeur d’Alene’s new federal building and a history lesson from the old one.

The groundbreaking for the new facility, which will be on 4.7 wooded acres just south of the Hecla Building at 6450 N. Mineral Drive (northwest of the Hanley Avenue/U.S. Highway 95 intersection), was last week. The building should be completed in late summer 2008.

Primarily to be showing buff-colored stone panels and glass, the building will be three stories of 56,520 square feet with a 6,543-square-foot basement. The grounds will have 170 parking stalls separated from the building by a courtyard (I guess a courthouse should have a courtyard) with a sculpture (yet to be determined) and a water feature.

The first floor will contain the court clerks and the U.S. probation, trustees, jury assembly and grand jury spaces. Offices for the U.S. Marshals Service and attorneys will be on the second floor, and the magistrate and district courtrooms will be on the third floor.

Companies with the project are ALSC Architects and Cargo Construction, both of Spokane, and JDL Enterprises of Bellevue, Wash.

The new building will replace the old federal courthouse off the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Lakeside Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene, because of security concerns and the lack of interior space and parking at the old place. Built in 1927 and now on the National Register of Historic Places, it originally housed the post office and later offices for the FBI, IRS and General Services Administration, all of which outgrew their spaces and moved to other Coeur d’Alene locations.

Fortunately, the old structure will remain but with new occupants. Other federal agencies evidently will have first dibs on the place, but if they aren’t interested, it may be sold to a private party.

Most of the building, probably about 20,000 square feet, would best serve as offices because of its interior design. However, the first- and third-floor courtrooms would make stunning public performance arenas. It could be a chance to bring performing arts downtown.

The third-floor courtroom has a 16-foot ceiling with art deco tiles. The wall behind and above the judge’s seat has a magnificent, 5-by-8-foot scales-of-justice sculpture (maybe this could somehow be moved to the new building) between floor-to-ceiling carved wooden columns (now painted gray). The remodeled first-floor courtroom has 12-foot ceilings with arched, leaded-glass windows reaching to the top.

The outside of the stone and brick building has sculptured scrollwork and a molded stern, federal eagle set back from green, steel light poles with snaking arms holding ornate globes.

One thing nice is that parking around the building – blocked for security reasons since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – will become public again.

Central Pre-Mix moves, reopens

With aggregate gravel gone from its old site and the neighboring Riverstone development wanting the land, the Central Pre-Mix concrete plant and store has moved from Seltice Way to 847 W. Kathleen Ave. The new location, accessible by Builders Way street, is adjacent to Central’s sister business, Interstate Concrete. Both are owned by Old Castle Materials.

Opening this week, the store offers construction, landscape and decorative concrete and masonry supplies as well as gravel and landscape material. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and will expand to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in April. Phone 664-2111.

This week’s tidbits

“Some public, right-of-way property northwest of the Ramsey Road-Interstate 90 intersection, may become private for a major commercial development. One of the company’s interested evidently is an Apple Barrel Restaurant. With the closest eatery being in Missoula, many folks have hoped an Apple Barrel would come here.

“Theater arts were big in Coeur d’Alene last weekend and will remain so this weekend as “The Diviners” at North Idaho College and “The Little Princess” at Lake City Playhouse have been sellouts. Seats are still available.

“Hey, it’s time for volunteers (and maybe inmates) to gather litter from the major roadsides. Now that the snow’s gone, the stuff is quite obvious.

“The nice weather brought folks to town last week. In half an hour Sunday afternoon, all 10 cars driving down East Lakeshore by Sanders Beach had Washington license plates.


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