Other Voices: Help us give birth to a gem of a space
The Historic Nevada Theatre has a structural gem that needs your help in hatching. We are talking about the rusting, corrugated metal building abutting the theater and backing onto Spring Street.
Nostalgically referred to as the “Back Barns,” this now vacant structure of about 5,000 square feet and its central location represents a promising gem that needs to be hatched to realize its full potential. That is where we need your ideas and suggestions. But first, a bit of background.
The Nevada Theatre was built in 1865 and is California’s oldest original-use theater with a Historical Landmark #863 designation. Thousands of performances have been presented, some in the past featuring Mark Twain and opera star Emma Nevada, and more recently Chicago’s “Second City” improvisational troupe and “Motley Crue.” As you know, the Nevada Theatre is the performing base for the Foothill Theatre Company, CATS and the Nevada Theatre Film Series – and home to many special events and community programs.
Now back to the Back Barns. They will require a major structural renewal, from the foundations on up. The potential is there, but what is the best use for this asset? What would fulfill a community need? What might benefit local businesses and organizations? In discussions with many of those familiar with the theater, the following suggestion were made:
• A “Black Box” theater and rehearsal stage, plus space for set building and storage space.
• Retail stores.
• Professional and commercial offices.
• Artists gallery.
• A multilevel parking structure.
• Sell it to a developer.
With all the above, except for the last suggestion, it is critical to factor in capital costs, space rental, administrative costs and the return on investment.
Now here is where you can help. Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions about the Back Barns. What direction should the Nevada Theatre Commission take?
Thank you for your interest and input.
Jim Dodds is the president of the Nevada Theatre Commission.
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