It’s no secret that the Walton Arts Center plans to build a brand new, 2,200-seat theater in Bentonville in the near future. That, however, won’t happen before the original Fayetteville facility receives a much-needed facelift and expansion.
Walton Arts Center officials provided new details on their Dickson Street expansion plans, including a timeline for construction, during a Tuesday meeting of the arts center’s board of directors.
Included in the plans are a new facade and entryway at the corner of Dickson and West Avenue, a larger lobby, expanded concessions, additional restrooms, an expanded Starr Theatre, additional backstage space for dressing rooms and storage, a re-configured Rosen Memorial Rose Garden, and an expansion of the center’s administrative offices.
Arts center officials also unveiled new conceptual renderings for the project, created by Portland-based Boora Architects.
The renderings show what the expansion could look like both with and without a parking deck built on the current arts center campus.
“We couldn’t be more excited about this vision for the expansion of Walton Arts Center,” said Peter Lane, Walton Arts Center president. “After 20 years of growth and success, this expansion will give us the space we need to grow our programs, better serve our patrons and partner organizations and bring more events to the Dickson Street area.”
Board members also officially weighed in on the overall need for the planned downtown parking deck, unanimously approving a resolution to encourage the Fayetteville City Council to proceed with construction of the deck, preferably at the East Lot by Kingfish bar or at the main Walton Arts Center parking lot adjacent to the current campus.
Once complete, the work would result in about 30,000 additional square feet of space with an expected cost of about $20 million, which is about $7 million more than the price of the original facility.
According to a provided preliminary timeline, construction would begin in mid-2013 and be completed sometime in 2015.
Features of planned Walton Arts Center Fayetteville expansion
New main lobby that connects the center to Dickson Street
- Larger lobby to accommodate crowds for major events
- Expanded concessions and lobby amenities
- Additional restroooms
- Outdoor covered plaza that creates synergy with Dickson Street
- New special event space
Expansion and renovation of Starr Theatre
- New separate entrance plaza and dedicated lobby
- Additional theater seating – Increase seating capacity from 165-250
- Window to new Plaza Allows natural light into the room
- Creates divisible room for more flexible event and performance space
Additional backstage support spaces to meet current and future needs of artists
- New dressing rooms and stage rooms
- New production offices for visiting and local crew
- Catering kitchen
- Storage for instruments, pianos, and electrics
- Maintenance shop
- New lighting system in Baum Walker Hall
Reconfiguration of Rosen Memorial Rose Garden / Bradberry Amphitheater
- New access to garden from main lobby
- New event space for indoor outdoor events in garden
- Option to cover garden
Expansion of WAC’s main administrative offices
- Additional space to house WAC’s expanding staff
- Conference room and office support space