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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mobius Science Center to begin renovations on donated Avista site

Design plans for the Mobius Science Center are seen Friday at a new site donated by Avista next to the Washington Water Power building in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Design plans for the Mobius Science Center are seen Friday at a new site donated by Avista next to the Washington Water Power building in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Mobius Science Center’s new home is a real estate agent’s dream: great location, right price.

Officials of Avista Corp. and Mobius showed off the space Friday after signing an agreement that gives the science museum a permanent home across from Riverfront Park for $1 a year.

The 1911 annex to Avista’s historic Post Street substation overlooks Huntington Park and the Spokane River. Mobius CEO Phil Lindsey said the museum would try to retain as many features as possible, including the brick walls and tall windows.

Avista will likely spend $550,000 cleaning and upgrading the space before Mobius takes over, said company CEO Scott Morris. It has been used for storage since 1946.

Lindsey said Mobius expects to spend $1 million and five months remodeling and installing exhibits, and he hopes to open there by the end of the year.

The new museum will include some of the current exhibits but will also have more “makers space,” he said. That means “putting tools and materials in the hands of people and having them learn how to do stuff.”

Included in the new offerings will be exhibits highlighting energy and hydropower, befitting the museum’s landlord and its location next to Avista’s 1906 Spokane Falls substation, Morris and Lindsey said.

Morris said Avista could benefit by having more local children interested in science.

“Avista is one of the largest, if not the largest, STEM employers in the Inland Northwest,” he said, referring to the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

Mobius will start with the top floor of the building and could expand to the lower two floors in the future.

The donation of the Avista space will help stabilize Mobius after the museum struggled financially in its early years, Lindsey said. It had been leasing space at 809 W. Main Ave. from CPC Development Co., a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

For nonprofits looking for long-term sustainability, Lindsey said, “one thing that’s almost always a certainty is fixed cost on space – either owned outright or leased for $1 a year.”

Some of Mobius Science Center’s exhibits have been moved temporarily to the main Spokane Public Library, with free admission. The Mobius Children’s Museum in the lower level of River Park Square is not affected by the science center’s move.

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