By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Two Front Street properties are expected to change ownership this month, clearing way for demolition and eventual construction of a new Missoula Public Library.

Once the transfer takes place, Missoula County will begin leasing the current library from Terry Payne, who will take ownership of the property.

In exchange, the county will take ownership of Payne's adjacent property, where construction of the new library will begin once site domination is complete.

“The transfer of property is scheduled for May 31, and we're working on the contract document,” said Dori Brownlow, the development director for Missoula County. “Their plan is for demolition to start immediately after May 31.”

On Tuesday, Missoula County commissioners approved the sale of $3 million in bonds for the library project. The issuance of debt – the first in a series to come – will reimburse the library for costs incurred to date, and cover pending demolition costs.

Andrew Czorny, the county's chief financial officer, said the bond will also cover future design costs. The debt won't be issued until the property transfer is complete this month.

“This is a $3 million private negotiated issuance that we had our financial advisers negotiate with First Security Bank and Glacier Bank Corp.,” said Czorny. “This is in anticipation of the larger issuance.”

Czorny couldn't immediately say how much it will cost the county to lease the current library from Payne once the property transfer is complete.

However, he did say that it was imperative that the library successfully meet the terms of its financial agreement by raising at least $3 million by the time the construction contract is let.

That will occur next year.

“Their fundraising efforts to date are looking pretty good,” Czorny said. “They have just under $3 million in pledged money. They have $677,000 in cash on hand. Their efforts are going well, and I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing.”

Roughly 57 percent of Missoula County voters approved the library bond last November, clearing the way for the project to proceed. The costs include a 20-year, $30 million bond to construct a modern library just east of the current facility.

The $3 million bond approved Tuesday also has a term of 20 years.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at