Historic building up for grabs

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BRIAN WALKER/Press Kootenai County will put this historic home on Government Way up for bid starting in March so it can build office space on the lot instead.

By BRIAN WALKER

Staff Writer

COEUR d'ALENE — Kootenai County is putting a historic downtown building up for bid to create more office space for its courthouse campus.

Commissioners have directed staff to seek bids starting in late March on the 1910 Victorian-style former home and business at 627 Government Way in hopes that someone will move it or buy it to salvage pieces of it.

"Regardless, they would be responsible for removal of the remains of the building," said Shawn Riley, the county's building and grounds director. "We don't want to tear it down if we don't have to. That is why it will go out to bid. Hopefully, somebody will want it in its entirety or pieces of it."

While the building is old, it's not on the National Register of Historic Places, Riley said. It was most recently occupied by the law offices of Brown, Justh and Romero, which moved to Harbor Plaza at 610 W. Hubbard.

The county last year purchased the property adjacent to its parking lot on the north side of its courthouse campus for $425,000.

Riley said the county is still planning to create office space on the site — just not inside the old building.

"The building is just not big enough to house any given department and allow them to grow in there," he said.

Riley said which county departments will move to the new space hasn't been determined, but the Public Defender's Office is a likely candidate since the county is renting a building at 1605 Lincoln Way for that department.

"Hopefully the future multi-story office building will be big enough to house at least a couple departments with room for growth, but it's too early to say which departments those are," Riley said.

Expense was another concern, Riley said.

"To bring it up to standards would cost us between $150,000 and $200,000," Riley said. "We'd pretty much have to tear it up and start over."

The land, however, is much needed.

"We want the dirt," he said.

Riley said the Kootenai County Historical Society is interested in receiving a report from him on Wednesday with how the county proceeds with the building.

Riley said he's unsure what the 4,600-square-foot building itself is worth.

"It really depends on what somebody would want to do with it," he said.

Riley said the county plans to publish a notice seeking bids for the building on March 25 and April 1. The bids will be opened and considered on April 16.

Riley said he believes the home would be movable as it sits on a foundation and over a basement, but that would ultimately be an architect or contractor question.

Riley said an architect is expected to present a plan this spring about how best to use the site along with land between the two court buildings.

The move to remove the old Victorian building and create office space there scraps the county's earlier idea to expand the third floor of the Administration Building.

Construction of the 10,000-square-foot expansion, which would have included both the east and west sides of the third floor, was estimated at $1.2 million.

"The new board is not a proponent of that expansion," Riley said.

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