Where passersby see more than a century-old tin sheds behind the Nevada Theatre, representatives of Nevada City-based KVMR radio station and the Nevada Theatre see the future home of state-of-the-art studios and office space.
“We’re going to create a building that looks old on the outside and state of the art on the inside,” said Denis Kutch, a member of the Nevada Theatre Commission and an architect on the theater side of the collaborative construction project.
But when they get down to brass tacks, those collaborating in the venture stress the community aspect of their joint effort, hoping it will revitalize the corner on Spring and Bridge streets in downtown Nevada City.
The 8,000-square-foot, multi-story building project will not only be home to the community radio station and its offices, but also include another 1,500 square feet of backstage support area for the 148-year-old adjacent theater.
Much of the project’s $3 million cost will go toward preserving the look of the century-old sheds, reusing many materials, said architect Jeff Gold.
“It’s in the spirit of historic Nevada City to use our heritage and the legacy of these old tin buildings … also, our values today about sustainability,” Gold said.
“These materials still have life and use in them.”
In the 1850s, a fire swept through downtown Nevada City, said Michael Young, KVMR’s board president. Afterward, the residents scavenged the bricks and pooled their resources to construct the Nevada Theatre, Young said.
“A hundred and fifty years later we’re doing the same thing,” Young said.
“We’re saving what we can out of here. Asking for money, getting money donated from the citizens and building something for both the theatre and the community’s radio station.”
Renovating the facility poses a challenge to Kutch, Gold and general contractor Landmark Construction Co. of Loomis, with the help of Nevada City contractor Kevin Brennan.
To help retain as much of the original structure as possible, Brennan said they will be rebuilding from the inside out. The rest won’t be demolished, it will be disassembled, he said.
“This building sat vacant for over 60 years,” Gold said.
Cramming 8,000 square feet onto the back of the theater is no easy feat either, Gold said. It will require the use of an off-site staging area.
“There are lot of reasons to be downtown, even though it is more difficult and has tighter constraints to it,” Gold said.
While the new broadcast studio with have all the technical equipment to ensure 24-hour broadcasts, including two studios that double the size of the current one shared by station’s 150 broadcasters, the developers went to lengths to incorporate the community.
The new headquarters will feature a community room where local groups and organizations can meet in an area big enough for 25 and capable of recording sound and video, Young said.
“When you look around town, there aren’t very many publicly available community rooms of any type,” Gold said. “The whole station pivots around it.”
KVMR’s own board currently has no place to meet and instead holds its meetings at BriarPatch Co-op in Grass Valley.
“That’s what this is all about,” Kutch said. “These are two organizations, community based, that are getting together. It’s the glue that holds it all together.”
One example of the community aspect is Nevada City resident Diane McIntire has been brought on as the owner’s representative to help oversee its progress.
Renovating the sheds will also eliminate an eyesore on that corner, and Gold hopes, entice visitors to venture down Spring Street.
“The idea of being downtown makes the station both visible and accessible. It creates a linkage in the cultural corridor between the theatre and the (Miners Foundry),” Gold said. “It creates a community facility in the middle of the community.”
The renovation will also add a control booth to the theater itself, enabling live broadcast of events before 250-seat capacity crowds.
The Nevada Theatre expansion will enable larger productions to come to Nevada City, Kutch said, bringing a larger variety to the historic Gold Rush-era town.
In addition to doubling its current size, ownership of the building will free up KVMR’s current $70,000 a year in rent to go toward programming and operating costs, Young said. Currently, the board crams into the station’s constantly culled CD library room during pledge drives.
As for how those new and expanded facilities will be used, Young said it is up to the community.
“The users are the ones who figure out ways to make use of it,” Young said.
“The buildings are tools,” Kutch added, “to be used by the community.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.
“These are two organizations, community based, that are getting together. It’s the glue that holds it all together.”
— Denis Kutch