Construction began in April for the 5,000-square-foot new center -- five times the size of the former center, the contents of which are squeezed into a trailer on the site nearby.
"The building, as we understand it, will be done this fall,"
Then final touches and creation of displays will begin.
"The one thing we don't want to do is open the center before it's ready," Dane said.
Interpretive displays will tell the region's story, from the historic
"It represents the entire region," Dane said. "It represents all the forces that make our region what it is today."
Architectural and landscape elements, such as basalt rock and native plants, will echo the region's geology. The building will feature floor-to-ceiling windows to connect visitors to the canyon.
The former visitor center, open since 1989, was being pushed to capacity with about 25,000 walk-in visitors per year, according to the
"It was quaint," said
Despite its small size, people from across the U.S. have told Freestone over the years that the center was one of the best they'd visited.
"And that's saying a lot," he said.
The project is a significant undertaking for the Chamber and the community, said
"It's been in the planning as long as I've been at the Chamber, which is 10 years," he said.
The new center began coming to fruition in 2013, when developer
"Having grown up in
A capital campaign is ongoing to finance the rest of the project. Many sponsorship opportunities, from
With the expansion and remodel, the new center will be open year-round -- a change based on state research indicating a recent uptick in fourth- quarter tourism.
"We're seeing more overnight stays in hotels than we did last year," Barigar said. Those figures apply to the entire region, but mostly to
The new building also will house offices for the Chamber and Southern Idaho Tourism, a meeting space and a souvenir and local products gift shop. Improvements to parking, and pedestrian and bicycle access to the
For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Barigar at the
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