Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Center takes possession of Simplot lot

Express Staff Writer

Hay bales show where the Sun Valley Centerís new auditorium will be on the Simplot lot.

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts announced Tuesday that it finalized its purchase of a portion of the Simplot property at the corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue in West Ketchum where it will eventually build a new arts and education facility.

The lot, which has been owned by the Simplot family for decades, is directly across from the Ketchum post office.  In 2006, The Center entered into an agreement with the Simplots to buy the property at a discounted price of $1.7 million. As a non-profit, The Center is not required to pay property taxes.

"We are very pleased to now have title to the property, which is such an ideal location for a new Center," The Center's Board of Trustees President Trina Peters said. "This purchase represents yet another milestone in our effort to bring to the Wood River Valley a world-class arts and educational facility—a place where the community can gather together to learn and experience the arts."

The Center's proposed 22,500-square-foot building was designed by award-winning architect Tom Kundig, of the Seattle-based firm Olsen Sundberg Kundig Allen. The project will include a 230-seat auditorium, an expanded gallery and classroom space, a learning library and lounge, underground parking and an outdoor park space that will accommodate art installations, outdoor performances, music and film.

"From soup to nuts including the land, construction costs, moving, interest, endowment and more, the total goal for fundraising is $17 million," said Sally Boettger, The Center's director of development. "Our target ground-breaking is 2009, based on fundraising success."

A representative of the Simplot family, Scott Simplot, said they were thrilled to have The Center be the owner and steward of the land.

"The post office is so crucial to daily life in Ketchum, and to have The Center across the street means it, too, becomes a part of one's everyday routine," he said. "Generations will grow up in Ketchum with fond memories of a life sprinkled with dazzling displays of art and a multitude of learning opportunities." 

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