This area on the north side of Arts Park, located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Harrison and Walnut streets in Portland, will be the site of a new Arts Place visual arts building. The Arts Place board last month approved plans for the new structure instead of expanding the current building. The new visual arts facility will connect to the north side of the kiln building (at left) and will house a 3-D art room, 2-D art room, storage spaces, lobby, foyer and restroom. It is part of a planned $2.4 million project that will still include structural fixes and renovation of the current Arts Place facility that is located across the street. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
This area on the north side of Arts Park, located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Harrison and Walnut streets in Portland, will be the site of a new Arts Place visual arts building. The Arts Place board last month approved plans for the new structure instead of expanding the current building. The new visual arts facility will connect to the north side of the kiln building (at left) and will house a 3-D art room, 2-D art room, storage spaces, lobby, foyer and restroom. It is part of a planned $2.4 million project that will still include structural fixes and renovation of the current Arts Place facility that is located across the street. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
In the end, Arts Place circled back to the beginning.

Plans for the Arts Place renovation that previously called for expansions on the northwest and southwest corners of the Portland facility have been altered to leave the its current footprint in place. Instead, a new building that will be focused entirely on visual arts will be constructed across the street at the northwest intersection of Harrison and Walnut streets.

The new plans were finalized and approved by the Arts Place board in May, with donors to the multi-million dollar capital campaign informed of the changes in the interim.

The idea for the building across the street is a return to a modified version of the original plan the board considered when it began the process of working toward a capital campaign in 2016.

Arts Place had made some sacrifices to its ideal plans to get everything into the single structure because of design challenges. There was also considerable cost — most notably the need for additional HVAC units — for the additions to the current building.

Early this year, Bruce Everetts of Taylor Architects, Muncie, pointed out that constructing a new building across the street would cost less per square foot.

“Once you started to weigh that, we realized we could go back to that original concept, which was definitely preferred,” said Eric Rogers, executive director of Arts Place. “That means we can have classes going on there and not have this building open. And we can have activities going on that don’t conflict with each other.”

The new building that will be just over 2,100 square feet will feature a 3-D art room, a 2-D art room, storage areas, a waiting room, a foyer and a restroom. The 3-D art room will attach to the north side of the kiln building, and the existing paths in Arts  Park will be utilized as walkways to the main entrance. An additional sidewalk will be added to connect to the parking lot to the west.

The shift of visual arts to the new structure allowed for greater flexibility at the existing site. The former art rooms will be converted into a new rehearsal and percussion ensemble room, instrument and gallery storage, and a larger board room.

The previous plans also added a percussion ensemble room, but it was significantly smaller that what is possible in the new format.

“I am particularly excited about the rehearsal and percussion ensemble (room) because it’s going to put less stress on the rehearsal/green room,” said Rogers, noting that it will be big enough to hold Jay County Community Band rehearsals if necessary, thus adding flexibility. “We’ll still have scheduling challenges, but it won’t be like we have right now.”

The executive director’s office will be adjacent to the board room, and the kitchen will also be expanded.

The northwest corner of the building that currently houses offices, including that of the executive director, will be opened up to create a larger waiting area, new reception and ticket sales counter and a community gallery.

“The nice thing is, we still achieve what we wanted to do, which is when people come in to buy tickets they are not going to be up by the doors,” said Rogers, noting the need for more space for those waiting in line for tickets and the ability to open up additional lines if necessary. “We know that will be a lot less constraining than how the lobby is right now.”

In addition to the new building and interior renovations, the impetus for the project was the need to fix moisture problems and structural issues. Those and other “corrective work items” will be addressed, and landscaping will be modified in an effort to keep water away from the building.

A capital campaign launched in 2017 has raised more than $2.21 million toward the $2.4 million goal for the renovation and expansion.

The project was originally planned for groundbreaking in early June with substantial completion by the end of the year, but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Arts Place now expects to advertise for bids in late July, with groundbreaking in late August or early September. The work is expected to take about six months.

Rogers noted that much of the initial work will be on the exterior, with crews moving inside during the late fall and winter months.
-30-