The Art Underground just turned five years old and if all goes as planned it will celebrate its next birthday with an additional arts center, complete with a 200-seat auditorium.
The Art Underground, which opened in Louisville in September 2007, offers dance, theater, music, photography, film and visual arts classes for all ages and has plans to open a 9,200 square-foot facility in the Steel Ranch development off Colo. Highway 42.
The new center would sit about a mile away from its original space, which is located at 901 Front St., in Downtown Louisville. A groundbreaking is expected in early January and the project is expected to be completed by August 2013, said Art Underground executive director Lori Jones.
“We’re really excited. We have a year to prepare,” Jones said, adding that with more space will come additional programming.
The Art Underground will still have a presence Downtown, but will reduce its space by half — officials will keep the large dance studio and art room but will give up a second dance room and multi-purpose space it currently uses.
The new facility will boast a 200-seat theater, with 100 fixed seats and 100 telescopic — retractable — seating and a 40 foot-wide stage, two dance studios, an art room, kitchen and storage space.
The facility is designed in such a way to use “every square-foot as efficiently as possible,” she said.
There are several examples of this — when the telescopic seating is retracted, that area in the auditorium can be used for rehearsal space.
A soundproof partition splits the dance rooms — that are about 33 feet by 25 feet and 30 feet by 25 feet — can be removed to become one large room for events. The larger room is adjacent to the lobby and the double glass doors on that room can be opened to extend the lobby space.
The art room is equipped with a sink and counter and can double as a makeup room during performances. The catering kitchen, with a roll-top opening, can double as a concession stand or serving bar.
“We’ll be able to accommodate our needs so much better and streamline our workload so we can focus on the other aspects,” Jones said.
Having a 2,000 square-foot storage space is something new to the nonprofit — right now the set pieces must be transferred to and from a storage locker in Lafayette via a van the Art Underground rents during each production. The costumes are stored in Jones’ basement.
“Theater productions are extremely time-intensive and anywhere we can streamline that, helps,” she said. “Here, everything is on site so it will make it so much easier.”
Jones said she has looked for years to expand the center because it has become increasingly difficult to schedule shows and rehearsal time at Louisville Middle School. This is due to other performance groups or events that coincide with Art Underground’s offerings, though Jones would love to call the school’s state-of-the-art auditorium their home site, she said.
“If we didn’t have this (new facility) on tap, it would definitely hinder our nonprofit,” she said.
In anticipation of expanding, Jones said the Art Underground has already implemented new programming including a new ballet school starting this fall and also a junior performance company, additional art and preschool programming that will begin in January 2013.
The city, in August, awarded a business assistance package to Creative Enterprises, LLC, owned by Jones, and to Takoda Properties, Inc., Jones said.
The Art Underground will lease the building from Creative Enterprises and the incentive package requires The Art Underground to act as the center’s managing entity for at least five years, Jones said.
Takoda Properties, Inc. has plans to own and lease out a second 9,000-square-foot building near the arts center to retailers.
Jones said these buildings will be constructed in a plaza area in the Steel Ranch development, at 2397 Highway 42.
City officials estimate the project will generate $381,146 in revenues from building permit fees, and construction and consumer use taxes and sales tax during the five-year span. An estimated $138,126 in rebates will be generated.
Louisville’s Boulder Creek Builders unveiled its patio home model late last year at Steel Ranch, one of the city’s last large-scale residential developments. Boulder Creek Builders’ principal David Sinkey said he and his team are excited to see the commercial aspect develop within the community, and referred to The Art Underground’s new building as an “interesting and positive anchor.”
“In terms of having a local Louisville organization’s presence out there … is a really cool thing. We’re all about Louisville and supporting small businesses and seeing that go forward,” he said.
Sinkey noted that with the residential portion rounding out, Boulder Creek officials and Steel Ranch residents look forward to see the retailers and other amenities fill in. Sinkey, on Friday, Sept. 7, said he did not know what the mix of retailers looks like yet.
The development is slated to include a total of 68 patio homes and 58 townhouses, the builder said.
Celebration, fundraiser for new facility set Sept. 22
The Art Underground’s Board of Directors will host a celebration and fundraiser to acquire the funds needed for seating, lighting, and sound from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Tri City Elk’s Lodge, 525 Main Street, Louisville.
Those interested in donating will have the opportunity to purchase a name plaque for a theater seat for $350 that will be fastened to the arm of the chair.
The Huckleberry, Zucca Italian Ristorante, Lulu’s BBQ and The Porch Deli & Market will donate appetizers and a cash bar will be available. Live music will be provided by Vinyl Underground.
The directors will unveil renderings of the new center that night, including a floor plan and the building’s exterior.
Tickets are $35 per person and are available online at artunder.org or by calling 303-229-1127.
Article courtesy of Colorado Hometown Weekly.