City wants site to be construction-ready by year’s end

The City of Jasper hopes to have awarded a construction contract and be closing on bonds for the future Thyen-Clark Cultural Center by the end of 2018. (Conceptual renderings courtesy City of Jasper)

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — It feels like she’s been working on the planning of the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center so long, City Attorney Renee Kabrick doesn’t know if she could walk someone through the process from its beginnings in December 2014 to now. And the list of check marks grew when the unique project took another step forward last week.

Wednesday, the Jasper Plan Commission approved a planned unit development ordinance that would permit a developer to build the structure without being restricted by existing city zoning requirements. The ordinance now moves to the Jasper Common Council for final approval, and will be discussed at the group’s next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in the council chambers at City Hall, 610 Main St.

Kabrick said that even with the PUD zoning, the cultural center would still fall closely in line with many of the city’s central business zoning standards. Differences include more signage allowance on the building, providing additional off-street parking for visitors, as well as landscaping standards for that lot. Kabrick said she “would be shocked” if it wasn’t approved by the common council, and doesn’t anticipate it will elicit a big rezoning discussion at the upcoming meeting.

In the summer, the hope was that bids for the project — which is estimated to cost $13 million — would be received by the end of October, but that has been pushed back a month. Kabrick chalked up the delay to the project’s moving timeline. The center has an 18-month construction window, and is still on track to open in early- to mid-2020.

“With a project like this, with there being so many moving parts constantly, it is necessary for us to have a timeline so that we constantly have a goal in mind,” Kabrick said. “But, it has definitely been an evolving timeline.”

She stressed she couldn’t underscore the complicated planning process. It’s a different beast because multiple government entities — the City of Jasper and the Jasper Public Library — with different legal requirements are teaming up to bring the new center to life.

“And that is hugely complicated,” Kabrick said. “And frankly, to our knowledge, it’s never been done before. Anywhere.”

Currently, Kabrick, Jasper Public Library counsel Bill Shaneyfelt, and outside counsel are reviewing final documents that will be included in the project’s bid packet. Kabrick said those parties hope that work will conclude in the next two weeks. After that, the project will be advertised and bids will be opened about a month after.

“Frankly, the real goal is to have everything buttoned up and ready to go at the very, very latest [by] the end of the year,” Kabrick said. “And when I say ready to go, I mean bids have gone out, we’ve received them back, we’ve awarded a contract and we are closing on bonds and all those kinds of things. So, ready for shovels in the ground at no later than the end of the year.”

She further explained that doesn’t necessarily mean those shovels will literally go in the ground by the end of the 2018, because weather can affect the official start date. Kabrick is more focused on getting to a point where a contractor can complete prep and behind-the-scenes work at the site, which is located at the corner of Mill and Third streets.

The Thyen-Clark Cultural Center will feature wings dedicated to arts programming and library programming, as well as an atrium in the center of the building that will function as shared space. Parking will be located behind the building.

Kabrick has enjoyed the development process.

“I think that once it’s done, it will be a model for other communities,” she said of the center. “And, certainly, it will be iconic for the city of Jasper.”

Additional conceptual renderings of the future center are below:

Atrium.

 

Exterior of arts center from the northwest.

 

Exterior of the library from the southeast.

 

Exterior of the library from the southwest.

 

Library circulation desk.

 

Library circulation.

 

Library from the east entrance.

 

Reading lounge.

 

Story area.

 

Study rooms.



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