Nuart expanding

The conceptual design of what the Nuart Theater will look like once the expansion is completed. The construction will begin this month and is projected to last until October 2018.
Catie Clark
Staff Writer

The Blackfoot Community Players announced the expansion of the Nuart Theater on N. Broadway in downtown Blackfoot. The Players own the Nuart.
The construction will officially start next week and is scheduled to be completed in October.
Despite the start date, some construction activities have already begun in the parking lot next to the theater. The parking lot next to the theater has been blocked off. The tree on the left side of the facade has been removed and buried utility pipes on the Broadway end of the parking lot have been partially exposed. Two pieces of heavy construction equipment have been on site all week.
The press release announcing the construction stated: "Monday, April 16, 2018, will be the ground breaking for an expansion of the Historic Nuart Theater." Regardless, there will be no ceremonial ground breaking on Monday.
"I think the wording on the press release was maybe a bit confusing," said Sharon Hoge, one of the board members of the Community Players. "We are not holding a ground breaking ceremony. We are just starting construction."
"We'll celebrate when we complete the construction; we don't need to party when we're just starting out."
The purpose of the project is to add some needed space to the historic theater.
"The Nuart was originally designed for showing films," explained Mayor Marc Carroll. "When the Community Players started to put shows on there, the only space for dressing rooms and prop storage was in the basement — there's only one staircase and it's cramped down there."
The addition to the Nuart will provide space for a modern indoor HVAC to replace to old furnace. Storage, some office space and a conference room will also be added. The project will include building another stair into the basement and installing more building exits for fire safety.
All of this work will integrate the expansion seamlessly with the original facade. The design work to preserve the historic appearance of the theater was done by the Blackfoot firm of Perspective Design Studios.
"They even went out to find bricks for the facade on the addition that match the original," Carroll said.
"When we first started using the Nuart for productions , we used the furnace coal storage down in the basement for dressing room space," remarked Hoge. "We always have needed more space, but we needed funding first."
"After we solve the funding, it has taken us two and a half years of planning to get to where we are now," she added. "We are now ready to add to the theater."
The Players are paying for the project with money they have saved over the years plus a grant from the Blackfoot Urban Renewal Agency.
"We share parking space," the Mayor said. "When the Board of the Players said they wanted to expand, we were surprised to discover they own the ground next to the theater. There are parking spaces there now but it used to be an alley originally and the theater has always owned it."
"We like that theater as a neighbor," Carroll added. "We have an arrangement to use the Nuart for large meetings we can't fit into City Hall. The Board has been nothing but kind and gracious in working with the City."
The Mayor explained that parking lot next to the theater will be closed in the near future though the lot immediately adjacent to the library and City Hall will stay open.
"Things will have to be redirected in the alley between City Hall and the post office as construction continues, so expect some rearrangement of traffic in the alley and the parking lots as time goes on," Carroll added.
Despite traffic rerouting, the public will continue to have access to the City Hall payment box, the Library book drop-off and the post office's drive-by mailboxes in the alley.
"This is going to be great improvement," Hoge said. "We will make the Nuart much more functional and improve its safety while preserving its historical value to the the community."