CB Center for the Arts another step closer to opening doors

Search for new executive director underway

by Mark Reaman

A temporary certificate of occupancy (CO) was issued to the new Crested Butte Center for the Arts on November 21. Technically, the CO was issued to the general contractor Black Dragon Development, LLC, and must still be transferred to the Center before it can begin occupying the building. That is expected to formally happen by Monday, December 2 and will allow the Center to hold a super-affordable sound check concert on Tuesday, December 3 before kicking off the premier winter season later that week with musician and singer Matisyahu.

“A formal ‘Occupancy Agreement’ was executed between Black Dragon and the Center that makes clear the Center actually assumes occupancy of, and responsibility for, the building from Black Dragon,” explained Center board president Joel Benisch. “We anticipate it will go into effect Monday. But the board is excited that we have reached this next big step in the process.”

Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman said the CO transfer process being used is typical. “We issue the temporary CO to the builder but a CO is tied to the property. So it’s the way we do business. We do it this way because the punch list needs to be completed by the builder,” he explained.

In Yerman’s report to the town council for the next meeting he writes, “All life safety items have been addressed and the building is safe for occupancy. The Town will be working with the Center over the following month to complete any additional interior items by the end of the year. There are a few exterior items that will need to be addressed in the spring prior to the final Certificate of Occupancy being granted.”

The first big show in the new Center is set for Friday, December 6 when Matisyahu will take to the stage along with ska band Bedoin Soundclash.

The Center was slated to open last summer but several issues came up that delayed the opening. The biggest was probably a fire that destroyed the specialty stadium seats built in Europe for the Center. Benisch said, “Along with technical issues with some of the systems in the building, all of which are very sophisticated, and delays in receipt of materials and equipment, much of which was custom, impacted the opening date.”

An interim director hired after longtime Center for the Arts executive director Jenny Birnie left for a new position with Gunnison Valley Health did not last long. So Birnie was retained in a half-time capacity through the end of the year. The board has hired a search firm to begin looking for a new full-time executive director. Benisch said that firm is being paid by a “restricted donation from a longstanding supporter of the Center.” In the meantime, he said key board members will work directly with senior staff between Birnie’s departure and the arrival of a new permanent executive director. He said while there is no estimate to how long that will take, it could be anywhere from six weeks to six months.

Benisch said while the new Center will soon be open for business, significant fundraising is continuing and the Center is still seeking capital donations.

The full CO will be issued when the punch list is totally complete. Benisch did not venture an estimate of when that would be but it should be after outdoor work is completed next spring.

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