Brainstorming session results in numerous ideas for Alpha Building | TheUnion.com
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Brainstorming session results in numerous ideas for Alpha Building

After a public meeting to brainstorm the future of the vacant Alpha Building, organizers are working to make sense of the suggestions.

Members of Nevada City’s Sustainability Team, an ad hoc committee commissioned by the city council, presented their plan of converting the 30,000-square-foot facility in a multi-use center akin to San Francisco’s waterfront Ferry Building.

Attendees broke up into small groups Thursday night to discuss which businesses and nonprofits might be a good fit for the building, which has been vacant since April 2008. It formerly housed Broad Street Furnishings at a key downtown corner.



“We got more ideas than we can house,” said Nevada City Councilwoman Reinette Senum, who spearheads the team. “We want them to overflow into other (empty) storefronts.”

The sustainability team will be compiling the suggestions, developing criteria for businesses and organizations to move into the building, and seeking letters of intent from groups hoping to relocate there, Senum said.




Re-opening the building depends on funding and city approval; team members are targeting fall 2011 for completion.

The team envisions a nonprofit collaborative on the mezzanine level, a certified community kitchen in the basement, and an off-season farmers market and businesses in kiosks on the street level.

Thursday’s meeting grew tense at one point, when downtown business owner Caroline Szekely objected to calling the street level a “marketplace.”

Szekely and her husband, Rick Szekely, are working to open Nevada City Marketplace around the corner on South Pine Street later this month. Their business also is modeled on the Ferry Building, and Szekely has said their idea was copied.

Senum said the name was conceptual, and the sustainability team was pleased business owners were able to air their grievances about the project.

The team is seeking funding and financing options, and welcomed representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday to tour the building. Grants and low-interest loans may assist in the proposed renovations.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail mrindels@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4247.


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