Nevada City Planning Commission Approves KVMR/Nevada Theatre Building
For immediate release
Contact Briana Ezell
265-9073 Ext. 201 / 400-2141
The Nevada City Planning Commission Thursday unanimously approved a joint project by KVMR Community Radio 89.5 FM and the Nevada Theatre Commission to build a new, expanded radio station with extra backstage area on the site of the “three barns” behind the historic downtown theater.
All four commissioners in attendance – John Parent, Greg Wolters, Bob Wright and Dix Sullivan -- approved the plans, with a few details to be considered at a future meeting.
“It’s magical,” said Conley Weaver, the city’s consulting architect to the project. “We are blessed that we had an opportunity to make this happen.”
Project architect Jeff Gold explained that the plan entails hand-disassembling the three sheds, which are in danger of collapse, and reusing the exterior tin and useable interior wooden beams to construct an 8,000-square-foot building that will closely resemble the buildings it replaces
Earlier plans presented to a planning “workshop” had drawn some criticism from Weaver and others because the renderings did not mirror the existing structures. Commissioners on Thursday noted that the early settlers of the Nevada City built for function, not appearance.
“The miners would not have replicated the original buildings. They built things out of necessity. That’s why it’s so rough,” said commissioner Wolters.
Nevertheless, KVMR and the theater had the plans redrawn to accommodate the historic nature of Nevada City’s architecture and to emphasize the inclusive, community aspect of the project.
Some community members have objected to a transmission tower that will serve as a landmark, as well as some exterior brick and the removal of a painted “foundry” sign on some of the exterior tin, but the commissioners Thursday unanimously approved these elements conditional on Gold returning with more precise plans. They suggested the painted sign be given to the nearby Miners Foundry as an artistic element for the interior.
“This whole project is absolutely wonderful and we truly need it,” said commissioner Sullivan.
About 40 people attended the meeting, nearly all in support of the project. Jack Dinwiddie, a resident of Bridge Street, said he represented the nearby Bridge Street homeowners who have to drive by the old sheds daily and they all support the new plans. “We are very much in favor of it,” he said.
One nearby business owner objected to three new parking spots the city staff suggested be added to Bridge street parallel to and abutting the new building. The commissioners decided to withhold approval until the plans are returned for decisions over brick and other elements along the Bridge Street side.
“We need an integrated public way plan” on Bridge Street, said commissioner Wright.
The KVMR portion of the building includes two broadcast studios, a community room doubling as a performance studio and support spaces and offices. The top floor of the building includes back stage support space for the theater with a connection to the stage level.
The primary entrance at the corner of Bridge and Spring streets is conceived as a “community corner” with an area for posting announcements of regional events and will serve to link the Nevada Theatre and the Miners Foundry into a “theater district.”
The station and theater are in the process of creating a charitable trust managed by both non-profit organizations in perpetuity. The two organizations are also working together to raise an additional $1.5 million to finance the project.
Construction is expected to start next spring, with occupancy in the summer of 2014, Nevada Theatre, the state’s oldest continuous-use theater, turns 150 years old in 2015.
When fire swept through downtown Nevada City 1863, it destroyed the Bailey
House Hotel. But townspeople pooled their money, saved the bricks and built the Nevada Theatre. There has not been a similar project since then.
. “This is going to be our generation’s contribution to beautiful historic downtown Nevada City that will last for another 150 years,” said KVMR board president Michael Young.