Silverthorne Town Council greenlights new art space in its former fire station |

Silverthorne Town Council greenlights new art space in its former fire station

The Silverthorne Art Board has worked for months to develop a business plan to convert the town's old fire station into a space for artists. Last week, the Town Council officially approved the art board’s pitch.
Joanne Cook/Courtesy image

Silverthorne Town Council has officially given the go-ahead to convert the town’s former fire station into an art space for residents and visitors.

The makerspace, which will officially be called The Art Spot, will feature several amenities like classrooms, retail space for artists and rentable private areas. The conversion will take place in four phases. The first was improvements to the building that already needed to be made, such as painting the exterior.

Phase 2 includes items that need to be opened first in the Art Spot — front of house (including the entrance, retail and staff workstation) and the garage bays (which house the ceramics studio, three makerspaces, an art exhibit and gathering area) — as well as facility improvements like accessibility modifications and a sprinkler system, indoor and outdoor signage, a website and hiring part-time staff.

Phase 3 is additional spaces in the first level, such as classrooms and private studios. A fourth phase includes long-term goals like potentially utilizing the upstairs portion of the building.

“Transforming the downtown has been something we’ve been talking about in this town for over 10 years,” Joanne Cook, recreation and culture director, said. “It’s specifically stated this way in the arts and culture plan as drawing people into the downtown using arts and cultures as an attraction, but we’ve always known that new businesses and things like that are also important.”

Cook said that The Art Spot will be a welcoming space for both professional artists and novices, as well as residents who just want a place to hang out. Other uses could include after-school programming, which is a hot commodity in Summit County. Like the Silverthorne Recreation Center, The Art Spot would have memberships and passes to help bring in some revenue, but the town would help subsidize the makerspace to make it accessible to the community.

Cook added that a potential perk of a makerspace membership is that artists may have certain shared tools available to them that they don’t own themselves, or they could securely store their personal supplies at the facility.

Conversations and planning around the conversion have happened for months, and members of the art board and local artists have been communicating with the Town Council and other advisory committees in the past weeks to nail down details of creating The Art Spot. Before this, the building was mainly used for office space.

Council member Tim Applegate said he had initial reservations since that portion of real estate is high-value and is likely to become even more valuable over the next few years, but learning about what amenities it can provide to the community got him to approve the conversion.

“I come from a financial background where I’m thinking that this is going to cost too much, and it’s going to be something (where) we never fill the hole,” Applegate said. “The boat just keeps sinking, we just throw money into it. But I can see the benefit of it. I had some conversations today with a couple of people that helped me see things a little bit differently. It’s not just this as a whole, but what it’s doing for the community. I think that’s where my mind has changed.”

Council member Chris Carran said that having space for art in Silverthorne is essential, and the location of the makerspace could bring more business to the retailers and restaurants in that part of town.

“It’s vital for the kids and after-school programs,” Carran said. “I think the more that we are providing as a community, and the more diversity we can embrace, the better off we are. The fact that what (the art board has) done in the building is diverse itself makes it a great project — to have permanent tenants in there, to have people coming in and out, to have memberships, drop-ins.”

Council member Mike Spry still expressed concern about what other uses the fire station could be used for. While he supports fine arts in the community, he said, this may not be the best way for the town to invest in it.

Phase 1 for the building costs $20,329. These items are already funded through existing 2022 budget authorization in marketing, events, arts and facilities maintenance line items. The costs for the second and third phases combined are $315,054, which includes a 15% contingency. The annual operating budget includes expenses of $154,890 and revenue of $85,260. Phase 4 expenses are approximately $252,000.

Official appropriations for the conversion will be approved through ordinances, which will be up for a vote from council in the future.

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