BOULDER, Colo. –
The founder of “etown” this week got one step closer to his dream of establishing a concert hall, studio and offices in downtown Boulder.
The Boulder-based nonprofit radio show inked a development agreement with the city Thursday to renovate a more than 80-year-old church off 16th and Spruce streets into Etown Hall. The organization — which has tried to put the plan in motion for much of its 18-year history and has been knee-deep in city processes for years — expects to spend more than $2.5 million on the renovation and hopes to begin the nine-month construction project in June.
“It’s been a full-court press for years,” said Nick Forster, “etown” founder and host, who runs the organization with his wife, Helen.
Now, it’s just a matter of getting further permitting and “reconvening” with his bank on a construction loan.
“The lending environment has changed,” Forster said. “Getting a construction loan is going to be a big challenge.”
But the idea and vision behind Etown Hall, should be well worth it for both “etown” and the Boulder community, he said. Forster said he plans to pay back the loan within three years and hopes to do so with the help of “etown’s” listeners, friends and patrons through a fund-raising campaign.
Forster stood behind the rows of wooden pews — seats “etown” plans to keep — on Friday and leaned over an old photo of the church. In the 1930s and early 40s, the First Church of the Nazarene boasted exposed bricks and a Rose window and carried a look that’s quite different than the stuccoed, somewhat boxy appearance of today.
To make his dream become reality, Forster and the “etown” crew assembled a team made up of architects and contractors from the local community, along with lighting and sound experts from across the United States.
The exterior will get a face-lift, including removing the stairs to allow for plenty of windows and a more open vestibule, he said. The idea is to take advantage of the building’s south-facing positioning to save on interior heating. Forster said that change alone could help Etown Hall use 28 percent less heat.
Falling in line with “etown’s” environmentally friendly focus, the organization intends to install solar panels on the roof, reuse greywater, and recycle or reuse building materials, Forster said, adding the aim is to build the first zero-carbon performance and media space in the nation.
Along with the nave and sanctuary areas, the 16,000-square-foot building also includes three floors of attached office space, a basement with a kitchen and a gymnasium. Additions and modifications to the building were completed at different times over the years, giving the building a “Frankenstein” look and a unique rejuvenation project, said Jim Walker, senior associate at Wolff Lyon Architects and project manager of the renovation.
“We want to scrape some of those old things off and turn it into a beautiful asset to the city,” Walker said.
The sanctuary and nave will be home to the 200-person capacity Etown Hall, where performances could take place up to three times a week. “Etown” will move its offices and establish post-production operations in the adjoining office building. The basement will serve as a community room and gathering area. A recording studio and sound stage are expected to fill the gym.
While “etown” owns and operates the building, Forster said he envisions the property being used by musical acts, neighborhood groups and other organizations such as the Conference on World Affairs and the Boulder International Film Festival.
“There’s opportunity for this to be a real resource for the community,” he said.
Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or email@example.com.