Monday meeting to gather public thoughts on arts district

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 11:57 AM

Members of the public will get their first chance to voice their opinions about a proposed arts and creativity district during a Monday meeting in Town Hall. Town officials and other interested parties will present their vision for an arts district, followed by a question-and-answer session.

A key part of the proposed district would move the ArtsCenter from its location at 300-G E. Main Street to a parcel at the corner of East Main and Roberson streets a few hundred feet to the west, said Art Menius, ArtsCenter director and a member of the town steering committee gathering information about the proposed district. That move would “get the ArtsCenter out of the way of [Main Street Partners’]development of their property,” he said.

Main Street Properties plans to develop the 300 block of East Main Street in phases to include more restaurants, retail shops, offices and other mixed-use spaces. Part of the first phase was completed this fall, when the Hampton Inn hotel opened. In addition to the ArtsCenter, the block includes the Cat’s Cradle music club, the offices of community radio station WCOM FM and other businesses.

With its new building, the ArtsCenter is looking for more classroom space in addition to performance space. How much space goes for classrooms and how much for performances is “part of what needs to come out of this process,” Menius said. He wants to get “the best configuration of performance space and classroom space to serve the needs of the ArtsCenter and the larger community.”

More public meetings will be held next year. By the end of in 2014, Menius said he wants to have financing and construction plans to begin the permit process in 2015 for the new ArtsCenter.

In October, Menius, along with ArtsCenter Board members Phil Szostak and Don Rose, gave an initial presentation for the new building to the town’s Board of Aldermen.

At that meeting, the board also got an update on a separate ordinance that would allocate $51,300 to plan for the arts and creativity district. Of that amount, $40,000 would come from town funds, $1,500 from the Orange County Arts Commission and $9,800 from the Strowd Roses Foundation. The board is expected to act on the ordinance at a future meeting.