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McCall non-profit to acquire lakefront property

Through donations and fundraising efforts, such as Idaho Gives, a McCall non-profit achieved a key fundraising milestone to acquire a lakefront property.
Credit: Ponderosa Center

MCCALL, Idaho — The people of McCall are one step closer to having a lakefront community center overlooking Payette Lake.

The non-profit Ponderosa Center has effectively secured the land required to build a lakefront performing arts and community center on Payette Lake, next to McCall's Legacy Park.

According to the non-profit organization, the acquisition of the .83-acre building site was made possible through private donations.

The property belonged to the Carey family of McCall, who sold the land to the Ponderosa Center.

"This project would not be possible without the ongoing generosity of the Carey family, both in this beautiful piece of land, and in the gift of time to raise the funds needed," said Ponderosa Center President Chet Wood. 

"It has been a true community effort to bring us to this point. From public input on the design and function of the center to the private donations – both large and small," said Wood.

The current design of the 29,800 square foot structure consists of multiple levels and will serve as a multi-functional facility for community members and other local organizations.

The center will also be home to the McCall Ski Heritage Foundation's exhibits.

The non-profit group said that the center will have many of the features of traditional performing arts centers, with added space and designations for classes, community events, school functions and conventions. 

"When we were approached by the Ponderosa Center years ago, it became clear to the family that this could be the ideal use," said property donor, David Carey. 

The Donations and Funding

"A beautiful building for so many folks to enjoy year-round, downtown and looking at Payette Lake. Not sure what could be better than that," said Carey.

According to Ponderosa Center, all building costs will be covered by private donations, with no tax dollars used in the Ponderosa Center's construction.

The Ponderosa Center obtained another mass contribution of $74,598 from 36 donors achieved via Idaho's largest, annual online fundraising event - Idaho Gives - where Idahoans come together and donate to Idaho non-profits.

As of early May, the organization has raised more than $2 million for programs, events and the capital campaign to fund the land purchase. 

The Ponderosa Center is to secure an additional $25 million through fundraising and grant efforts to complete the construction and cover initial operating costs.

"We have owned this property for nearly 30 years and have always debated its best use," said Carey. "We wanted it to be something that could be enjoyed by everyone in our community, but struggled to define what that could be."

The site had already been utilized by the Ponderosa Center as a venue for its free outdoor summer concert series, Tuesdays at the Terrace, permitted by the Ludwig and Carey families.

The Carey's allowed the land to serve as a venue for other local groups and organizations as well, for a variety of events, from musical performances and movie premieres to brew festivals and cornhole tournaments. 

The Property

The plans for the building location were mildly modified. The original design intended for the structure to be erected west of where it is now.

The building location shifted 35 yards to the east, closer to Pine Street, which Ponderosa Center said will provide more space for parking and access for the community. 

The move was due to the current landowner's decision to acquire the corner lot that is adjacent to the property, allowing for that additional parcel to be transferred to the non-profit. 

"We had been hoping to consolidate the parcels in this area for quite some time," said Wood. "It was perfect timing for the corner lot to become available right as we hit our fundraising goal to secure the land." 

The new build site will require minimal updates to the existing designs of the center. 

The Ponderosa Center said the building was designed by community partners, such as McCall Music Society, as well as input from the community.

"We're excited for what comes next," said Wood. "One of the most gratifying things about the Ponderosa Center's evolution is that we have been able to offer community programming and see the positive impact from that for several years now as we work toward the long-term vision." 

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