Discovery in the Magic City

Minot Parks approves lease agreement with children’s museum

Submitted Art A rendering of the Magic City Discovery Center’s proposed children’s museum shows the northwest view of the building.

The Minot Park Board called a special meeting Thursday to discuss a partnership with the Magic City Discovery Center, which is seeking to build a permanent children’s museum in Minot. By the end of the meeting, the lease agreement was unanimously approved.

The Magic City Discovery Center opened as a temporary children’s museum in November 2014 to operate during the winter months at the Dakota Territory Air Museum and has returned every year since.

Building a permanent building is something the children’s museum has been working to do since day one, according to MCDC board president Mark Lyman.

Lyman, along with Jessica Ackerman of MCDC, approached the Park Board on March 21, 2017, about a potential partnership between the museum and the Minot Park District. The discussion was held for the April board meeting.

In June of 2017, the park board approved a letter of intent, presented by park district attorney Pete Hankla, with the Magic City Discovery Center. In the same meeting, the board agreed to support Lyman and the children’s museum in fundraising efforts and their application to the Minot Area Community Foundation Fund.

Submitted Art A drawing portrays children enjoying a Magic Climber that would be part of the new Magic City Discovery Center

On July 6, 2017, the location for the children’s museum was approved. The location was set on North Hill just southwest of the Sertoma softball fields. The hilltop location gives a picturesque view of Minot.

In August of 2017, the City of Minot awarded the children’s museum $1 million from the Community Facilities Fund. The award included a stipulation that the museum provide matching funds of at least $500,000 by Dec. 31, 2018.

Hankla presented to the board Thursday a ground lease agreement between the park district and the children’s museum so they can begin the process to construct a permanent museum on the park district’s land.

“The representative of the children’s museum as well as representatives of the park district have met on various occasions and pulled together what we believe to be appropriate terms for a joint enterprise agreement as well as a lease for that piece of property,” Hankla said.

The agreement calls for the children’s museum to put together a proposal and begin work on construction of the museum within the next five years. The lease agreement stands as $1 per year for the next 50 years. The museum will also be responsible for the property insurance on the buildings they construct on the property.

Submitted Art A drawing of the proposed Magic City Discovery Center’s Build Exhibit portrays children learning as they play.

The park board agreed construction and execution of landscaping around the museum would be the responsibility of both parties, with the park district taking over maintenance after construction.

“The park district would, at the conclusion of the construction, be the owner of the building,” Hankla said.

After construction, the park district would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of grounds and parking lot; however the museum would be responsible for snow removal around the building and in the parking lot.

The agreement calls for the children’s museum to be fully responsible for funding and building of the museum.

“We do anticipate we will raise in that $6 to $7 million range for total cost. We are looking at about $230 per square foot in the building itself, and we do anticipate between $1.5 and $2 million just for the exhibits alone on the inside,” Lyman said when questioned about the anticipated cost.

Lyman said the fundraising period would be about 18 to 24 months. Because of this, Lyman doesn’t see the museum moving forward with significant construction until sometime next year.

Ultimately, Lyman said, it could be late 2020 until the building is fully constructed, but the approval of the lease agreement is a strong step forward in the process.

“I can’t think of a better use of that land,” park board member Cliff Hovda said to Lyman. “I’m confident you’ll do well and I wish you well.”

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