Up on a roof (in Nashua)By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
June 22. 2014 8:03PM
NASHUA — The feasibility of building a performing arts venue and a movie theater on top of two municipal parking garages in downtown Nashua will be considered by city officials.
Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy has submitted a resolution to release a request for proposals to build the two operation on top of the existing Elm Street and High Street parking garages.
The proposal will be presented to the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, at which time it will then be assigned to an aldermanic committee for further review and analysis before a vote.
“The rooftop areas of the two parking garages are largely unused, and the garages are significantly underutilized in the evening hours,” states the resolution. “It is important for the future economic vitality of downtown that the arts have a presence downtown, to improve the quality of life for downtown residents and to draw additional visitors into the downtown.”
The city, according to McCarthy’s proposal, should determine whether the parking garages are structurally capable of supporting an enclosed performing arts center and a movie theater, and whether the installation of solar electric generating equipment is possible above the garages.
The request for proposal should be evaluated on several criteria, including seating capacity, auditorium design, use of backstage space, integration of a freight elevator and the ability to provide small art film performances, states the resolution.
In addition, McCarthy is proposing that the city’s performing arts study, which was conducted several years ago, be updated to reflect current needs of Nashua’s art community.
The city’s lack of a large performing arts center was highlighted last month when aldermen were updated on the progress of various cultural initiatives throughout Nashua.
While there is clearly a passion and drive for a performing arts center in the Gate City, bringing it to life is incredibly difficult, Liz Racioppi, chairman of Nashua Arts Commission, said at the time.
It is a hot topic and a complicated matter, she said.
The Nashua Arts Commission is hoping to begin a new study focusing on a potential arts center within the next five years. The last study was completed about 12 or 13 years ago.
The suggested future study is part of an arts and cultural plan that is expected to soon be introduced to the Board of Aldermen, with the recommendation that it be included in the city’s master plan.
“It is worth the investment to figure out how we create the venues,” Kathy Hersh, president of City Arts, said recently. ‘
If arts are the heart of the city, which Hersh strongly believes, she said it would be beneficial for the city to hire a professional to help create some vibrant art venue opportunities in Nashua, as well as a marketing plan.