Everett’s Mountain Pacific Bank stepped up to help with the financing for the new Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. (Designed by Mithun, Image by Mir)

How an Everett bank is playing a role in building Nordic museum

When the Nordic Heritage Museum opens at its new location in Ballard next year, Everett’s Mountain Pacific Bank will have played a part in making it a reality.

The museum has leased its current location, the historic Daniel Webster Elementary School building, from the Seattle School District since 1979. Because of the tremendous growth in Ballard, the district needs to take the building back and turn it into a school again. The museum’s lease ends in December.

Even before that, the museum’s Board of Directors wanted to own and operate its own purpose-built facility, said Eric Nelson, the CEO of the Nordic Heritage Museum.

The board began discussing new locations for the museum in 1999, but fundraising didn’t start until 2003, when the first piece of property was acquired, Nelson said.

The museum eventually purchased three continuous parcels on Market Street, buying the last one in 2009. Fundraising brought in $40 million, but the museum needed one last push to secure construction financing.

“Mountain Pacific Bank was one of several we requested proposals from, and they were extremely enthusiastic about giving us a very nice proposal back,” Nelson said.

Helping charities and nonprofits is nothing new to Mountain Pacific. It’s been one of the bank’s goals since it started in 2005, said president and CEO Mark Duffy.

“We try to help nonprofits any way we can through our donations, but also financially helping them in doing loans,” Duffy said.

For the Nordic Heritage Museum, Mountain Pacific waived the loan fee — which is at least $100,000 on a $10 million loan — and structured the loan so the money could be borrowed based on the construction phase.

“They raised a lot of money for this, but to start construction and keep to their timeline, they wanted a commitment in place to make sure they could complete the project,” Duffy said.

Mountain Pacific Bank has been involved in Ballard since 2010, when they began lending to the area’s fishing community, including the Alaskan fleet. The bank opened a loan production office in 2013, and then converted that office to a branch in 2015.

“Everybody has been fantastic, from the president on down to the branch manager,” Nelson said. “I think because they’re a local bank, they were able to be incredibly flexible, which was a great help for us.”

The new Nordic Heritage Museum is planned to be more than 57,000 square feet on three floors and will feature environmentally controlled storage and galleries, a cultural resource center, classrooms, a multi-purpose hall with a catering kitchen, and a café and gift store.

The facility is designed by Mithun Architects. Construction is scheduled to be finished by December, and Nelson said it will take another five months to finish the interior for exhibitions and offices. The museum will likely open to the public next May.

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