Mayor Steve Patterson and program specialist Emily Beveridge Discussing ARTS/West renovations

Basement Renovations to Open More Space for ARTS/West Users

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Peeling paint, inadequate lighting, crumbling concrete and damp, dark rooms are not an attractive environment for artists wanting to use ARTS/West.

The former church, purchased by the City of Athens in 2005, saw the former sanctuary renovated then, but the basement remained much as it was when the building was constructed. The creative and colorful space upstairs has been a favorite venue for performers and exhibiting artists since then, but now ARTS/West management would like to make the basement as welcoming a space as the upstairs.

“Our facilities offer really good, quality stage and lighting and professional sound,” program specialist Emily Beveridge said. “The space itself is very beautiful particularly the performing space.”

Bathroom in the basement of ARTS/West

The upstairs is very different than it was as a church.

Hardwood floors recycled from the old woman’s gym at Ohio University and a well-lit gallery and a stage forms the creative space upstairs, but downstairs, it is a different story.

“The basement, hopefully post renovations, will look as nice as upstairs and the performance space,” Beveridge said. “We are hoping the bathrooms will get redone and the lobby widened.”

Beveridge said $194,000 from a recently-passed Parks and Recreation Levy will fund the renovations.

“There will be a bid opening and based on the bids we get, we may accept one,” she said. “That may bring us to going into renovations on the basement to late spring, I’m guessing or early summer.”

Mayor Steve Patterson said he is aware of the different kinds of renovations needed, such as accessibility in the basement, bathrooms and a deteriorating outside ramp.

“This most recent plan for the renovation is long due, Patterson said.” Hopefully, as the bids come in, we got someone who is going to bid on it, and number two is that it stays within the 10 percent over the engineers’ estimate where we can accept that bid.”

The solicitation of bids could be as early as Sunday.

Basement walkway in ARTS/West

Renovations would include modernizing basement rooms, kitchen and bathrooms. 

Beveridge said the improvements will add more than just usable space.

“I think that it will just really improve the accessibility of the space and hopefully add pride to the space for the community,” she said.

Soliciting for bids for the renovations won’t guarantee companies will submit proposals.

“We had a bid opening early February and we didn’t get any bids,” Beveridge said. “So what has to happen is the project has to get reevaluated, or more money has to get put into the project, which is what happened in this upcoming bid cycle.”

Mayor Patterson said he is thinking beyond these renovations.

It’s kind of an east/west running building,” he said. “It has some great surface area for putting some solar panels on the southern side of the building.”

Beveridge agrees that there is more work to be done, but her top choice is more down to earth.

If I had to choose another plan for another project to improve the space I would probably have my eye on the parking lot.”

Hallway in basement of ARTS/West