Old Center for the Arts building closed, code updates needed
Tenants moved out; closed to public until building code updates are made
[ By Kendra Walker ]
The old Crested Butte Center for the Arts building is currently closed, as the Center has received a list of updates from the Town of Crested Butte that need to be addressed in order to meet building code requirements. Tenants of the building were temporarily moved out of the space this month, and the building will remain closed “for the foreseeable future,” said Center for the Arts executive director Scott Palmer.
On December 3, Palmer and general contractor Crocket Farnell met with town staff via Zoom to discuss various outstanding construction issues involving egress and BOZAR zoning requirements. During the construction of the new Center, some modifications were made to the old Center building, “which has now left that portion of the building out of compliance with some building code requirements around life safety and egress,” said town manager Dara MacDonald. “The Center has been operating on what is known as a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for going on a year now as we wait for them to complete the outstanding items necessary for the project… We have told the management at the Center that those items must be corrected or occupancy of that portion of the Center will not be allowed.”
Items that need to be addressed include: making an accessible pathway that would allow a safe egress from the building in the back courtyard; making the west entrance ADA-accessible; creating a level path, with no tripping hazard, from the old Center’s eastern egress; removal of the temporary structure in the courtyard that was built during Phase One construction to protect people exiting from the old theatre; and removal of the temporary entrance covering on the south side of the old Center facing the Alpenglow field.
Some of these have already been taken care of, but a few are more complex, said Palmer. “Due to the costs associated with these repairs, and given that the Center is being very, very careful with our financial resources, we were unable to commit to making those repairs within the Town’s desired timeline,” he said. “As a result, the Town informed us that we would need to close the old Center building to the public until such time as we are able to afford the repairs necessary to meet the life safety requirements.”
Palmer said the Center reached out to its renters on the morning of December 4 to let them know they needed to move out of the old building. Tenants include Crested Butte School of Dance, the Crested Butte Community Yoga Co-op and the Trailhead Children’s Museum.
“Luckily, with the hard work of our staff, we were able to move all of the users out of the old Center building and into the new building,” said Palmer. “This meant a lot of discussions, scheduling and negotiations with our renters, all of whom bent over backwards to help us figure out a solution. We are proud to say that our friends from the Crested Butte School of Dance, the Crested Butte Community Yoga Coop, the Trailhead Children’s Museum, and a small group of visual artists all responded with patience and with grace. Together, we were able to accommodate all of their events in the new building without too much pain.”
The Center now plans to discuss the two temporary structures with BOZAR to ask for a temporary permit extension. “This may involve upgrades to those two structures to meet BOZAR standards and, to be frank, we just don’t know if we can afford that,” said Palmer. “So, we will need to wait and see how BOZAR responds, and how much all of this will cost, before we can make any decision about trying to re-open the old Center building.”
As with other local businesses and organizations this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has largely impacted the Center for the Arts’ operations and finances.
“We understand that the pandemic has put the Center in a tight financial position and have been working with them for months to try to close out the construction project in a cost-effective manner that also ensures compliance with building codes and the BOZAR approval of the project,” said MacDonald. “Unfortunately, it seems the Center’s finances do not allow for them to complete a few of the outstanding items on the older portion of the building that would allow for safe ongoing occupancy and egress.”
“We are continuing to work with the town of Crested Butte to determine next steps, and with our renter-partners to ensure we meet their needs,” said Palmer. “We are 100 percent committed to making decisions that protect the Center’s long-term financial health. In the end, it may be more financially responsible of us to keep the old Center closed, but at this point we just don’t know. We also appreciate the efforts and partnership of the town of Crested Butte as we determine our next steps forward.”