In a major new development in Nevada County’s cultural, educational and social scene, Penn Valley Community Foundation on Thursday announced the launch of a $5 million capital campaign to build a new community center.
“We just think this will really help the community out 100 percent,” said Penn Valley Community Foundation board president Louie Osterude.
The center, which is expected to include a 5,000-square-foot library and a 536-seat acoustically enhanced concert hall, will be located on a 5-acre site on Spenceville Road opposite the Penn Valley Fire Protection District station.
“We think it could be one of the nicest performing arts venues in the county,” said Ellen Persa, campaign coordinator and a Penn Valley Community Foundation board member.
She said Community Foundation leaders have already received support from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, county library officials, business leaders, service organizations and nonprofits.
“It's really exciting,” said Persa, pointing to options for weddings, performances, meetings, exhibits and many other activities. “There's just no end to what can happen in this space.”
Project manager Bruce Ivy, of Bruce Ivy Construction in Grass Valley, said his firm built the new fire station in Rough and Ready and saw it generate huge positive energy.
“It changed the whole town,” he said of the fire station. “I believe this (community center) will change Penn Valley.”
Ivy said the 21,500-square-foot Penn Valley complex will be built in an L-shaped format, with the library fronting Spenceville Road and the concert hall stretching back towards the rear of the property. In between would be a shared lobby, shared restrooms and a 16,000-square-foot courtyard to enable indoor-outdoor gatherings.
“We really think the timing is right,” said Ivy. “The economy is better and people are more positive (than during the recession).”
Besides the library and concert hall, the complex will include meeting rooms, a full commercial kitchen, a visitors center, loading areas, exhibit space and a circular drive/drop off.
In addition, approximately 200 parking spaces are planned — a big plus in Nevada County where many performance venues struggle with having enough parking, Ivy said.
Ivy said the complex is expected to be constructed on one level. However, the ceilings in the performance hall will be as high as 23 feet and then sloped gradually to enhance sound quality. Architect Keith Brown, who helped design the acoustics at Grass Valley's Seventh Day Adventist Church, is on Ivy's team, he said.
Osterude and Michael Mastrodonato, president of the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the new facility is seen as a potentially huge boon to local businesses.
“The whole community is excited about this project coming to fruition,” Mastrodonato said, adding that it will benefit area restaurants, shops, services and the entire Penn Valley economy. “This will bring people to town and help out businesses.”
Osterude, retired owner of the former Empire Fence Co. and Penn Valley Fence Supply, said the Community Foundation, which owns the land, has already received support from local civic groups, such as the Lions Club and fire department. He has also scheduled meetings with Rotary Club and other organizations to engage as many people as possible.
“We're just trying to let everyone know so they can all get on board and not be left behind,” Osterude said.
The genesis of the project came about 10 or 12 years ago, when the land was donated to a group of community leaders, but it still had buildings on it. The group sold the land to business owner Don Young. Young, who died about two years ago, cleared the buildings and then donated the land back to the community, Osterude said.
The community has allowed the local Food Bank to use a portion of the land to grow produce, and the rest has been maintained while leaders sought to move ahead with a community center.
The Food Bank is expected to stay on the property even with the new construction.
“My passion is for supporting the businesses in town,” Osterude said. “The economy will absolutely explode if we have that building filled twice a month.”
Anyone wishing to get involved or get more information may contact the Foundation office at 530-432-3527.