The Henderson Space and Science Center board is discussing a move to an interim facility.
The permanent facility for the center is expected to be within the Union Village project near U.S. Highway 95 and Galleria Drive. But that isn't for another few years.
At its Oct. 25 meeting, the board proposed finding a temporary facility that could help it acquire exhibits, which could be transferred to a new facility. The board also could learn what exhibits work and don't work in the community.
Jack Clark, executive director of the space and science center, said having an interim facility also might help its fundraising campaign by showing potential donors first hand what the space and science center could be.
The board is looking at the former Luxury Motors, 1050 W. Warm Springs Road.
"The site is about 7.3 acres, 6 acres of which we would be using," Clark said. "We have visibility from the U.S. 95."
Clark said the site offers about 500 parking spaces for visitors and access for buses.
He estimated that leasing the building would cost about $2.8 million for five years. That includes about $30,000 a month in rent, which would equal about $1.8 million. In addition, the facility would require about $1 million in alterations.
"But we would have no equity, which could be important," Clark said.
To purchase the Luxury Motors site, Clark estimates spending about $3 million to $4 million, plus $1 million in repairs.
"Even though (purchasing) has a higher initial cost, the overall cost would be less," Clark said. "We can sell (the building) to recover costs as we move forward with a permanent facility."
The site still must be appraised. Clark said it could easily be appraised for $2 million and the owner could decide not to sell.
"In that case, that site goes away but the proposal remains," Clark said
If that site goes through, the center would have about 9,000 square feet of exhibit space.
Clark has discussed the matter with the city attorney's office to see whether this option is feasible.
He said the board is planning to present it at the Dec. 7 City Council meeting. At the meeting, the board plans to ask for $8 million, which would come from the $17 million the city already is expected to contribute to the project from a land fund.
Clark said the board would add an incentive to the loan agreement saying if the board fails to raise the funds, the council could refuse to allocate the rest of the money.
"This holds our feet to the fire," Clark said.
Board members Larry Carroll and Jim Frey raised concerns .
"What if we move into the facility and the council just tells us to stay there?" Frey said.
Clark, however, was not worried .
"This space won't work as a permanent facility," Clark said.
Also, Clark said, the city's contract with Union Village already has delegated five acres for the space and science center.
Clark also mentioned that the temporary site could serve as a back up plan.
"God forbid something happens with Union Village; at least we would have a place," Clark said.
If the council agrees to the loan proposal at the December meeting, the board hopes to go back to the council on Feb. 21, 2012, and present the final loan agreement.
Clark said he hopes the temporary facility could open by s pring 2013, around the time that the space and science center would break ground on the permanent facility at Union Village.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-5201.