North Idaho College President Priscilla Bell signed a five-year lease Thursday that paves the way for NIC’s Ponderay Center to relocate from the Bonner Mall to the Sandpoint Event Center at 102 S. Euclid Street in downtown Sandpoint.
More space and features at the new 8,000-square-foot property such as a theater and commercial kitchen will open up opportunities for expanded NIC programming in the future. The former space was 6,000 square feet.
The move also allows for greater integration with two NIC agencies: Area Agency on Aging, which will move to the Sandpoint Event Center, and the Head Start school readiness program, which is located across the street.
“Not only does this give NIC more room to grow, it also gives us a presence in the heart of downtown Sandpoint closer to other NIC agencies that provide comprehensive services to the people of Bonner County,” Bell said. “The new location will allow us to better meet the educational needs of our students, employers and the community from children to senior citizens.”
The lease comes at a reduced cost for NIC due to collaborative efforts with Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency, which will provide a grant to the college for its role in generating downtown vitality.
“Sandpoint has long been the best college town in the Northwest without a college. With NIC now here, we’re changing everything,” said Mark Rivers, Sandpoint’s downtown and economic development consultant, who led the community’s efforts for the relocation. “The new NIC facility is a dynamic first step for creating a lasting, impactful higher education presence in our downtown core. We’re thrilled to welcome them home to Sandpoint.”
NIC plans to begin moving into the property this summer in time to be open for fall semester. Accompanying the move is a name change from “NIC Ponderay Center” to “NIC at Sandpoint.” The community will be invited to a grand opening for NIC at Sandpoint in its new location later in the fall; a date has not been determined yet.
“Ponderay has been amazing through this process,” Bell said. “We are truly grateful for their graciousness and hospitality and look forward to continuing our wonderful relationship with everyone involved.”
Posing for a picture after signing a five-year lease that allows the NIC Ponderay Center to move to downtown Sandpoint are, from left: NIC Vice President for Resource Management Ron Dorn, NIC President Priscilla Bell, Sandpoint Mayor Marsha Ogilvie and Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency Chairman Eric Paull.