Steve Down deal set for Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum property, averting foreclosure!

One more puzzle piece has fallen into place for the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

A Utah investment group has bought property that includes the space museum, the neighboring Wings & Waves Waterpark, a site where a hotel was once planned and other campus property, averting a foreclosure that could have shuttered those parts of the McMinnville attraction.

Falls Event Center LLC, the investment group led by Oregon native Steve Down, offered $10.9 million for the properties, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported last month. The sale was finalized and acknowledged by a bankruptcy court judge last week, the museum said.

The museum will continue to operate as a tenant under a 30-year rent-free lease. It will run the waterpark until the end of the year, after which the buyers will take over its operations. The buyers will also run event space on the campus, and they are also reviving plans to build a hotel on the site, said Evergreen Museum interim executive director Ann Witsil.

The museum has been picking up the pieces after the failure of Evergreen International Airlines in 2013. The airline helped fund the namesake museum.

The museum's complicated ownership structure meant different parts of the property had different owners, as did many of the planes. Each ownership entity was left saddled with debt.

Museum leaders have made a series of business deals to secure the museum's future.

Maine developer George Schott paid $22 million for the aviation museum property in 2015 in partnership with The Collings Foundation, an aviation nonprofit. It will lease the property to the museum, while the foundation will take ownership of some of the museum's planes.

Another deal later that year secured for the future the aviation museum's star attraction, Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules flying boat, nicknamed the Spruce Goose. The deal, for which terms were not disclosed, settled a long-standing disagreement over how much the museum owed for the plane.

By - Elliot Njus
The Oregonian/OregonLive
enjus@oregonian.com