OLYMPIA – The Olympia City Council on Tuesday approved a $4.5 million financing plan to build an $18.5 million Hands-On Children’s Museum.
The vote clears the way for the council to close on a purchase and sale agreement to buy land from the Port of Olympia for the museum. That could happen on May 25.
Jay Burney, who is managing the project for the city, said that would allow the project to break ground in mid-September.
The council voted in 2008 to pay the port $2.28 million to buy land on East Bay for the museum and pay the LOTT Alliance, the local sewer utility, $360,000 to jointly build a public plaza next door.
But the deal hasn’t closed because the city has been waiting for the museum to finalize a financing agreement. The council has moved the scheduled closing date three times; last month it did so until no later than June 15.
Patty Belmonte, the executive director of the museum, said at the time that “complexities” she couldn’t describe were holding up the project.
She was still hopeful that the project would break ground this summer.
The financing plan is just one hurdle before construction could begin. The city needs approval from the state Department of Ecology for an environmental cleanup plan, and the project would have to be bid.
The city is building the structure that will hold the new museum, which has been slated to open by the end of 2011, and will own the building.
The children’s museum has proposed a 27,000-square-foot facility and 30,000 square feet of outdoor space, replacing its current rented space at 106 11th Ave. S.W., which has about 10,400 square feet.
It is expected to cost $13.5 million for the land, site preparation and building; $4 million for exhibits; and $1 million for furnishing, fixtures and equipment. The City of Olympia is paying $8.9 million for the museum, $7.9 million of which is from Public Facilities District dollars.
Belmonte has said the indoor galleries are expected to open by the end of 2011, with the outdoor space to follow in 2012.