MOSCOW — Heart of the Arts, Inc., the nonprofit that manages the 1912 Center in Moscow, will not have to provide 113 off-street parking spaces to accommodate future renovations and occupancy of the top two floors of the historic East Third Street community building.
The Moscow Board of Adjustment unanimously approved a variance request Thursday night to waive the parking requirements for the building.
The 1912 Center’s ground floor and first floor are utilized by the public and require 55 parking spaces. The building provides 67 parking spaces — 37 on-site and 30 off-site — at a nearby parking lot on South Jefferson Street between Second and Third streets. The off-site stalls are supposed to be limited to evening and weekend usage.
After the second and third floors are developed, 180 spaces would need to be provided, or 113 more than what is offered, according to the city’s zoning code. But since only some of the 1912 Center’s rooms are occupied at one time and other public parking spaces are located nearby, the board decided to waive the requirement.
Board member Annette Bieghler praised Heart of the Arts Executive Director Jenny Kostroff’s vision for the renovations.
“The benefit that the community will have from it will far outweigh walking a block or two more (to the building),” Bieghler said.
Board member Tim Thomson called the center a “jewel” and said he is excited about the plans for the building. He said he would not want to stand in the way of those plans by requiring the additional parking spaces.
The plans include two classrooms, a community living room, a historic classroom, a 100-person auditorium and a reception gallery on the second floor. The third floor is expected to house three classrooms, an open event space and a kitchen.
Kostroff said she has ideas for the classrooms, but they have not been finalized.
She said she hopes most of the second-floor spaces are completed by next August, provided Heart of the Arts’ fundraising numbers match the construction costs when the project goes out for bid. It is unknown when the third floor will be developed.
The 180 parking spaces are based on the assumption every room at the 1912 Center will be at maximum capacity all at once, but Kostroff said events will be scheduled so that all the rooms are not occupied at the same time.
Heart of the Arts indicated in the board’s packet Thursday that if there is a demand for events in the building where it would have insufficient parking, the staff would work with customers to provide alternate parking locations.
Those solutions could include the Latah County Courthouse parking lot, First Presbyterian Church next to the high school, City Hall and the Frontier building three-tenths of a mile away on South Howard Street. A shuttle could be provided from the Monarch Motel and Best Western Plus University Inn.
She said most large events at the center take place at night and on weekends.
One person spoke during the public comment period Thursday. The woman, a Heart of the Arts board member and neighbor to the center, supported the plans for the building and the waiver for the extra parking requirements.
She said she lives in a neighborhood where high school students park on her street during the day, churchgoers park there on the weekends and 1912 Center visitors park there throughout the week and weekends. She said those types of parking situations are simply part of living in an area on the edge of an urban center in an active community.
The board directed city staff to prepare a relevant criteria and standards document to review at a future meeting. Board approval of that document would essentially cement the Thursday decision.
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