On Wednesday, Idaho Falls announced plans for the next phase of the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts renovation including a new name.

The Civic Center will undergo a name change on Oct. 1 and become the Frontier Center for the Performing Arts. The new name recognizes the $3.5 million donation gifted by Frontier Credit Union toward the renovation expenses of the building.

Dan Thurman, the president and CEO of Frontier Credit Union, explained the reason they decided to financially support the Civic Center’s renovation at Wednesday’s press conference.

“The ​Civic plays ​such ​an ​important ​part in ​the ​community,” Thurman said. “At Frontier Credit Union we believe in building better lives, ​and the things that happen here at the Civic, the performances ​that ​happen … contribute to ​building ​better ​lives. ​We ​also ​believe ​in ​investing ​in ​our ​communities, ​and ​so ​we’re ​proud ​to ​be ​able ​to ​step ​up ​and ​be ​a ​title ​sponsor ​for ​this ​expansion.”

The first phase of the Civic Center’s renovation began in 2018 and focused mainly on updating the interior auditorium by replacing seats and carpets, improving acoustics and implementing new technological features to the theater. Phase one was completed in 2019, but the project was put on pause due to COVID-19.

Now, the Civic Center Foundation and city officials have approved moving to phase two, which will focus on improvements to the Center’s exterior entrance and landscaping, tripling the size of the lobby from 2200 to 6600 square feet and building a new suite of 27 ADA compliant bathrooms under the lobby — this will include a grand staircase and an elevator to access the area.

“Currently ​the ​only ​way ​to ​access ​ADA-​accessible ​restrooms ​is ​to ​go ​into ​the ​high ​school,” said Lara Herway, the executive director of the Civic Center Foundation.​”Which ​has ​some ​serious ​security ​concerns. ​Otherwise, ​there ​are (none), and ​the ​ones ​that ​are ​in ​the ​basement ​here ​currently … ​they’re ​a ​hazard. ​So, ​this ​is ​a ​big ​project ​that ​will ​really ​improve ​the ​community ​experience.”

The Civic Center was originally built in 1952, making it over 70 years old. The renovation is intended to update the building to accommodate the changes in the community, including the increase of over 100,000 residents in the county since it was built.

Artist rendering of the proposed plans for renovating the lobby area of the Frontier Center.

Artist rendering of the proposed plans for renovating the lobby area of the Frontier Center. Photo credit: Gabriela Fletcher

The proposed budget for the Civic Center’s entire renovation is $7.4 million based on the architect’s project cost estimate.

A study was conducted earlier this year by a capital campaign committee for the project to determine the feasibility of the fundraising goal. A group of over 40 potential major donors and performing arts group users participated in the study and gave the proposed design plans high marks and described the budget and fundraising goal of $7.4 million as “challenging but achievable.”

Donations of $1,057,000 from William and Shirley Maeck and $861,135 from the City of Idaho Falls helped fund phase one. Fundraising for the project is still ongoing. The Civic Center Foundation expects to be done with the fundraising portion of the project by the spring of 2024 and hopes the renovation will be complete by fall 2026.

“It ​really ​is ​the ​heart ​of ​our ​community,” Herway said. “I ​would ​encourage ​(members of the community)to ​reach ​out ​to ​the ​campaign, ​to ​get ​involved with ​helping ​us ​raise ​funds ​or ​to ​consider ​a ​donation ​themselves. ​Thisis ​a ​70-year-oldbuilding, ​and ​now ​we’re ​just ​breathing ​new ​life ​into ​it, ​giving ​it ​the ​best ​facelift ​ever, ​and ​it’s ​going ​to ​last ​another ​50 ​years.”