Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Center for the Artsí plan gets a little grander

Balcony added to increase audience size

Express Staff Writer

At one point last fall, hay bales were placed on the Simplot property to show where the new Sun Valley Center For The Arts was to be located. Now, the new plans for the lot have expanded. Photo by Mountain Express

The new Sun Valley Center for the Arts building is getting an addition before it's even built.

At a meeting on Monday, the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission approved a modification to the design of the 43,000-square-foot building that adds a balcony for additional seating in the auditorium.

The building would be located on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street, across from the post office.

"We have seen noticeable growth in the size of our audiences for various programs in the past two years," said Bill Ryberg, the new executive director of the Center for the Arts, in a press release. "That expanded interest is a trend we believe will continue. As a result, it was incumbent upon us to re-evaluate the size of the auditorium in the new facility to ensure we would be able to meet our needs, as well as those of the community at large, for the future."

Since the original design in 2006, seating in the auditorium has been increased from 230 to 397, with 247 seats on the main level and an extra 150 on a balcony.

The size of the above-ground portion of the two-story building would be 22,406 square-feet, with the remainder coming in the form of an underground garage.

The most significant resulting change to the exterior of the building would be a large bay window on the western side of the second floor that projects over the ground floor. This addition is the result of the relocation of a number of administrative offices within the building.

Jill Eshman, attorney for the center, said at the meeting that the goal is to break ground on the new building at some point in 2010.

According to The Center's press release, about one-third of the total $17 million price tag has been raised, with the start of construction dependent on the success of the ongoing fundraising campaign.

As well, the center still has to resolve a number of issues with the City Council, including a potential community housing requirement.

Ketchum Senior Planner Nathan Warren said that given the size of the project, The Center would owe 2,500 square feet of affordable community housing. This requirement was originally going to be satisfied by the developers of the Ketchum Lodge, a proposed 70-room hotel that would sit adjacent to the center on the so-called Simplot Lot.

However, Warren said the city has not heard any development plans for the hotel since November, a delay that could cause the council to return the requirement to The Center.

The council will consider the amendments to the original planned-unit development application later this summer.

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