Council considers how best to use the former Center for the Arts building

“Tragic not to use that space”

[ By Mark Reaman ]

Work is taking place this winter to bring the old Crested Butte Center for the Arts into compliance with town codes. Not everything can be done immediately and at least one Crested Butte Town Council representative is advocating to think of ways the town can help to get the building back open and assist local non-profits.

Due to building code violations that have not been addressed, the building was closed and its tenants were instructed to move out earlier this month. The Center staff is working with the town to clean up the code violations and obtain a temporary permit extension to use the building.

Council member Mona Merrill said the building closure has dramatically impacted some local organizations including the Crested Butte School of Dance, the Crested Butte Community Yoga Coop, the Trailhead Children’s Museum and some visual artists who were using the space. She said the Center worked hard to help relocate them all, but some of the shifts are only temporary.

“The new Center is fully booked,” Merrill said. “That’s great. But the old Center is empty. We need to think out of the box and try to get the old building reopened so we can help some of these grassroots non-profits. I don’t know what the right answer is but I would like to have a discussion on how to get the old building functional again. It is tragic if that space remains unused for the next five years. Can we help somehow?”

Jillian Liebl, the Center’s development director, informed the council that Black Dragon Construction, the company that built the new Center for the Arts building, was working to address some of the code issues that were brought up by the town. “We are addressing the things that can be done in the winter,” she said. “We are working with the BOZAR [Board of Zoning and Architectural Review] to get an extension of the temporary permits.

“Like everyone, we are dealing with the current situation and trying to pay off our debt,” Liebl continued. “So we are trying to minimize our monthly expenses. Operating that old building is expensive because it is so inefficient. The rents we were getting do not cover the operating costs. We are trying to be good with our expenses. We are open to ideas from the town. I agree with Mona that it would be tragic not to use that space.”

Mayor Jim Schmidt suggested having Center for the Arts director Scott Palmer give the town specific plans and timelines on what is expected of the old building. “Let’s find out more information from Scott and the Center on potential timelines and obstacles to use that space,” he said.

“There are a lot of challenges,” said Merrill. “But more important, it is a community amenity. We need to explore all the options available to us.”

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