By John Wenzel, The Denver Post | Buell Public Media Center, the new headquarters of Rocky Mountain PBS, KUVO Jazz 89.3-FM and The Drop, is finally complete after a four-year, $34 million fundraising and construction process that saw numerous revisions to its ambitious, community-hub concept.
“It’s a little bittersweet not being in the building,” said Amanda Mountain, CEO and president of Rocky Mountain Public Media (RMPM). “A month ago we were feeling comfortable giving tours in very small, socially distanced groups with everyone wearing masks. This month and for the foreseeable future, that doesn’t apply.”
As a result, RMPM has been giving virtual tours to its investors and is planning a grand opening celebration for sometime in 2021. The only people in the 93,000-square-foot building right now are essential staff, she said, although others will continue moving in through November.
Designed by Tryba Architects and located at 2101 Arapahoe St., the Buell Public Media Center will also host the Metzler Family Learning Center, the Community Media Center, Masterpiece Studio, Bonfils-Stanton Performance Studio and Colorado News Collaborative (COLab).
It’s a big project, but it started out even bigger.
The Buell Public Media Center began with a pricetag of $49.17 million and a full-city-block concept that included a school, community garden and potential housing along with media production facilities. That was later revised down to $38.8 million to reflect cuts in office space from 80,000 to about 60,000 square feet. RMPM officials also shaved up to $9 million off costs by replacing a proposed 500-seat proscenium theater with a “flexible space theater.”
RMPM officials experienced a setback in June 2017 when the Colorado Economic Development Commission denied them a tax credit worth about $1.5 million, given that the project is just outside the boundary of an enterprise zone that takes in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Groundbreaking was also pushed back at least twice as officials continued fundraising.
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