Basalt officials say proposed performing arts center will make its stamp at Willits |

Basalt officials say proposed performing arts center will make its stamp at Willits

A performing arts center at Willits would feature a concrete canopy suspended over the main entrance.
TACAW/courtesy image

A final review will start Tuesday on what one Basalt official labeled “one of our foremost civic buildings.”

The proposal for a performing arts center at Willits will be reviewed by Basalt Town Council. The Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-0 on Tuesday to recommend approval.

“This one of our foremost civic buildings. This is really an opportunity to make a statement about Basalt and the arts,” planning commission chairman Bill Maron said at the meeting.

The nonprofit organization The Arts Campus at Willits has proposed the arts center. It has pared down its initial plan for a 19,000-square-foot building and is now seeking approval for a one-story building of about 10,000 square feet. A second phase may be pursued in the future.

“This is really an opportunity to make a statement about Basalt and the arts.” — Bill Maron, Basalt P&Z

The first phase features a flexible performance space that will accommodate about 240-seated patrons or 395 standing. That is about 30% larger than a temporary venue that TACAW operated in Willits Town Center, dubbed The Temporary. TACAW lost its lease for that space last spring, so organizers shifted into high gear to get approvals and funding for a new facility called The Contemporary. The site is on the southwest edge of Willits Town Center, off Willits Lane. TACAW leased the site in 2017 from the town government for 99 years.

Ryan Honey, TACAW’s executive director, said The Temporary averaged 3.2 events per week and attracted more than 25,000 patrons over its 20-month lifetime at music, theater, comedy and other performances. Based on a formula proven in other studies, The Temporary generated an estimated $1.3 million “spillover” for surrounding businesses in Basalt, Honey said, so it’s clearly an economic driver for the town.

The success of The Temporary has the board of directors and staff of TACAW confident that The Contemporary will be successful.

“We know the community is ready for it,” Honey said. “We’ve demonstrated that.”

One big addition at the proposed center is a kitchen that can be used for catering for events and for education in the culinary arts.

There also will be a lobby, bar, green room for performers, restrooms and a community room.

TACAW board member Michael Lipkin called the proposed facility a “state-of-the-art, 21st century performing arts center.” Lipkin is the original developer of Willits and the visionary behind the arts center. He is a partner in the firm Lipkin-Warner Design and Planning, which is designing the center.

One of the defining characteristics is a concrete canopy suspended over the main entrance. The exterior architecture will feature a lot of glass and custom, corrugated metal. Solar panels will line the roof.

TACAW is working with Rocky Mountain Institute, Holy Cross Energy and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency on “coming as close as we can to a net-zero building,” Lipkin said. Energy efficient construction and on-site solar would help the facility produce most of the energy it requires, he said.

The review and public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall. A second reading is scheduled Sept. 24.

If TACAW earns approval, construction would likely begin in spring 2020 to avoid the extra expenses of working in the winter, Honey said. It is anticipated the center will be completed in 10 to 12 months from when construction starts.