NNDF asks about Community Building


Last updated 11/15/2023 at 3:39pm

A local lending business is looking for a larger space to operate and is eyeing Coulee Dam’s “Community Building” as a future possibility.

Jordan Ruiz, the newly appointed executive director of the Northwest Native Development Fund approached the city last week about the building that houses, a closed movie theater, an operating bowling alley, the Rio Grande restaurant, and the city’s fire department.

She said NNDF wouldn’t need any of the occupied spaces but would like to explore altering the space the theater used to operate in to accommodate a new use, including adding windows through a thick concrete wall, if possible.

NNDF is a non-profit CDFI, a community development financial institution, based in Coulee Dam on Fir Street, with a mission to “foster economic and financial independence for native people by assisting in the development of personal assets through financial and entrepreneurial education as well as providing access to capital through creative lending products, increasing ownership and economic opportunities,” a statement announcing Ruiz’s appointment said Monday.

Ruiz noted there is very little commercial property available in Coulee Dam, but they need more space than what they have in the former Bank of America spot across the street from the post office. She said NNDF needs space to conduct meetings and classes.

She told the mayor and council they were interested in purchasing the building, but not disturb the other current occupants, including the fire station.

The now empty theater area would need to have a new level floor built, and Ruiz said they would look at cutting windows through the concrete wall near the parking lot.

The discussion, occurring during the council meeting’s public comment period, yielded what Mayor Bob Poch called “an interesting proposition.”

Councilmember Keith St. Jeor said selling the building is risky for the city because it houses the fire station, which would be expensive to rebuild if the building was sold to another party in the future.

Poch said a lease of the space would not present such a challenge.

Ruiz said they want to stay in Coulee Dam. “We love it here.”

Councilmember Merv Schmidt, who often negotiates for the city regarding leases in the building, asked that NNDF come back with a proposal, and they can go from there.


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