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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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CMoR hopes to open Fredericksburg-area branch this year

The Children’s Museum of Richmond is still hoping to open a Fredericksburg-area branch by the end of 2013.

CMoR, as it’s known, has submitted a proposal to a local foundation asking for a $300,000 matching challenge grant, said CMoR President and CEO Karen Coltrane. She didn’t say which foundation.

Coltrane said CMoR expects to hear from the foundation by the end of January.  If it gets the grant, CMoR plans to go to the local community to raise the matching $300,000 that would get the organization to the roughly $600,000 needed to open.

CMoR has not selected a location for the local branch, but Coltrane said it would probably be about 18,000 square feet. That’s about the same size as the satellite branch CMoR opened in Chesterfield County this past June, and a little bigger than its Short Pump location. CMoR’s main location in downtown Richmond is about 42,000 square feet.

Numerous local commercial real estate brokers have contacted CMoR since the museum announced its intent to open a branch in the region, as the facility is expected to generate significant foot traffic.

If CMoR doesn’t get the challenge grant from the local foundation, Coltrane said in an email, the organization will likely “drop back” and evaluate its fundraising prospects in the area.

CMoR has been working on plans for the local branch along with a group of young mothers in the Fredericksburg area led by Jessica Beringer. That group formed an organization called the Cobblestone Children’s Museum, and later changed its name to the Explore it! Children’s Museum. Explore it!, which has been putting on temporary exhibits at various area events, later decided to partner with CMoR on the local branch in order to make it a reality sooner.

Exact plans for CMoR’s local branch have not been finalized, but it would contain hands-on exhibits geared toward children eight years old and younger. The facility could also include an art studio, performing arts stage and several classrooms.

CMoR plans to seek multi-year exhibit sponsorships from the local business community to support operations, and seek grants from foundations and individuals that will allow access to families who otherwise couldn’t afford the admission or membership rates.