Rezone, aggregation and street vacation for Russell Museum up for vote at April 7 commission meeting

City Commissioners will conduct a public hearing on a request from the C.M. Russell Museum and Trigg C.M. Russell Foundation to rezone and aggregate some parcels as they go through a master plan process and consider expansion, as well as vacate 5th Street North between 12th and 13th Streets.

In February, the city planning board unanimously voted to recommend that the City Commission approve requests to aggregate and rezone.

Rezone, aggregation, street vacation considered at March 17 commission meeting for April 7 public hearing

The road vacation request goes straight to the commissioners for consideration.

Rezone, aggregation for Russell Museum future expansion gets initial OK from city

The museum is requesting to rezone those properties from residential and neighborhood commercial to match the museum’s zoning of PLI Public Lands and Institutional.

Museum officials visited the neighborhood council in February and the council was supportive of the project.

Rezone, aggregation considered for Russell Museum’s future expansion

Two residents asked questions about the museum’s long term plans during the Feb. 25 planning board meeting, but no one spoke in opposition to the requests. City staff received an email with questions about the request, which staff responded to, according to the staff report.

C.M. Russell Museum acquires property, exploring options for expansion

Thomas Figarelle, the museum’s executive director, said during the February planning board meeting that the first phase of their plan includes added parking lots and greenspace, as well as a preparatory studio at the property addressed as 1125 5th Ave. N. That studio would be built on a half lot already owned by the museum and the exterior would be made to match the residential character of the neighborhood, he said.

He’s optimistic that those parts of the plan can be completed this year or next, he said.

Western Art Week rescheduled for September with first time combined event of three major shows

The longterm master plan is very much in the preliminary stages and Figarelle said in February that staff hopes to present a plan to their board in June that if accepted would firm up their plans though any major expansion projects would be contingent on fundraising capabilities.

Their effort to plan for the future is really a manifestation of at least three decades of work by the museum, Figarelle said, when the museum and foundation started acquiring properties across the street in the 1990s. For years, the museum had owned all but one of the properties on the northside of 5th Street North between 12th and 13th Streets until last summer when a donation was made allowing the museum to acquire the last remaining property.

The homes were deemed unsalvagable and demolished in December.

In terms of event parking, greenspace, the sculpture garden and more, Figarelle said “we’ve really maxed out” the space we have.

The last update to the building was in the 1990s and Figarelle said rezoning and aggregating the properties would allow the museum to begin setting the stage for a possible major expansion of the museum itself to stay comparable with other worldclass art museums and continue showcasing the best of western art.

Figarelle said the museum would not hold more than one event monthly at max, to allay resident concerns over increased parking and activity in the neighborhood.

He said there was no intention to move the Russell auction to the museum grounds since even with the possible future expansion there simply wouldn’t be enough space for everything the event requires.