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Rex Theater owner set to lose properties

March 11, 2023
"Anticipation is high for an early summer opening of the newly renovated Rex Theater on Main Street in downtown Bonners Ferry. With a background in the film industry, owner and hometown girl Abra Chouinard not only has several college degrees, she has an astute business sense and cares deeply for the community."
Bonners Ferry Herald, February 20, 2015
The Rex Theater

By Mike Weland

On December 27, 2022, Featherston Law Firm, Sandpoint, recorded Notice of Trustee's Sale on three Bonners Ferry properties; the building housing Northern Treasures and the lower floor of the building that once held Huckleberry Treasures, both in downtown Bonners Ferry, and a residential structure at 6629 Comanche Street on the Northside near Boundary Community Hospital. But on March 2, 2023, the registered agent of three different business entities listed as owners appeared on a prestigious Realty podcast touting her many contributions to the town she grew up in.

Two other downtown buildings owned by Realtor Abra Chouinard will remain empty, at least for now; the old Chevrolet dealership next door to city hall and the venerable Rex Theater.

A call to Chouinard's the number on her website, Living in Northern Idaho, was answered by a message that the number was no longer in service, an email went unanswered but the podcast on Leigh Brown's "Crazy Sh*t in Real Estate" had been pulled from the site by the next morning. It is available here.

In it, Chouinard, a fourth generation North Idahoan, recounts being born and brought home to a one room cabin on a homestead, no electricity, no water, an outhouse and kerosene lamps.

"And that's how I started off in real estate," she said, "which is you literally had to clear the trees and build your house."

She said she started investing in her community, buying up Main Street, touting the history of the properties and speaking of her vision of what downtown Bonners Ferry could be.

But her story of what she's done veered sharply from what actually is. She described investing over $350,000 in remodeling the long empty Rex Theater, claiming it now boasted a state of the art digital projection system, a custom-built screen that could be raised, giving access to a stage that hadn't been used since 1941.

She claimed that live theater productions were staged there, that it was the venue for the Bonners Ferry Distinguished Young Women program.

She claimed the old bank building on the corner of the block where Huckleberry Treasures was now housed an indoor farmers market with 70 vendors.

"I'm fascinated by this idea of you buying the town to elevate, to keep the old and honor it and create new spaces for entrepreneurs," Brown said. "What has been the reaction of elected officials?"

"A lot of jealousy," Chouinard replied, saying she was attacked on a personal level, and that she often had to go to the mayor and demand to be treated as equal to other business owners.

"It gets to the point where they're legally past the line and they have to back off," she said.

The notice of trustee's sale show an unpaid balance of $311,579.05 owing on the three properties; 7214 Main Street and 7202 Main Street, both downtown, and 6629 Comanche Street on the Northside near Boundary Community Hospital.

Unless she is able to bring the accounts current, the sale will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1, on the steps of the Boundary County Courthouse, 6452 Kootenai Street, Bonners Ferry.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

“Leigh Brown, this is crazy sh-t alright. Maybe you should have done some research before the interview. I cannot believe what I just listened to. This added insult to injury. It wasn't a big box store that drove out thriving businesses and has ruined our town. My children grew up going to movies at the Rex Theater that Ms. Choinard closed and was never again opened. Indoor farmer's market? What?! Elevating our town? She has single-handedly ruined our down town and this interview was insulting. If she was personally attacked, it wasn't out of jealousy. It was for leaving her properties closed for a decade on Main St of our town and ruining the character, not elevating it. Crazy sh-t interview."
Barbara Ilgren Russell
Bonners Ferry
Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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