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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Avista offers Post Street site to Mobius Science Center

Avista has offered to lease its Post Street Substation annex, the smaller structure on the far right, to the Mobius Science Center. (File)

Spokane’s science museum may find a new home in a building overlooking the Spokane Falls offered by Avista Corp.

Mobius Science Center has been looking for new space for more than a year.

Avista has offered to lease a historic brick building next to its Post Street Substation for $1 a year to make a permanent home for Mobius Science Center, Avista spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst said.

The deal is still being negotiated and architectural and engineering studies have to be done, but the offer has been made, she said.

Amanda Gilliam, Mobius Spokane’s marketing manager, said the nonprofit’s board of directors has signed a letter of intent to move ahead with negotiations.

The building is just north of the plaza that opened last spring next to Spokane City Hall. It overlooks the newly created Huntington Park on the banks of the Spokane River.

It was built in 1911 to house a backup generator for the big substation but has been used for storage since 1946, Wuerst said. While the substation was designed by renowned architect Kirtland Cutter, the annex was not.

Yet to be decided is which organization would pay for renovation of the building, she said.

Mobius’ potential new home was announced Saturday at the museum’s annual gala.

Gilliam said Mobius’ board and staff are excited by the prospect of finding a permanent, affordable home in downtown Spokane.

“We want to focus on our mission and outreach rather than our overhead,” she said.

The agreement affects only Mobius Science Center, which is located in leased space in the building at 809 W. Main Ave., across the street from River Park Square. The museum’s current landlord is CPC Development Co., a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

The Mobius Children’s Museum will stay in the basement of River Park Square, Gilliam said.

Higher-than expected lease payments and lower-than-expected attendance in the science museum’s first year caused the museum to struggle financially, museum staff said in 2013. Mobius officials had hoped to land federal tax credits that would have covered most of the cost of buying the space it’s leasing, but those didn’t come through.

Mobius Spokane, the parent organization of the two museums, paid $413,232 in rent to Cowles Co. affiliates in 2012, according to its tax return that year, the most recent available. The organization’s total revenue that year was $3.43 million.