PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont Center for the Arts has its eye on the other half of the building at 801 Magnolia Ave.

The 1,200-square-foot space is empty and sorely in need of renovation. Years ago, it housed the Sunday school for the Christian Science Church at the property. The city of Piedmont bought the property 10 years ago with thoughts toward incorporating it into a civic center master plan that never got off the ground. The building sat vacant until 2011, when the arts center struck an agreement with the city to lease the west wing for $1 per year and renovate the space with private funds.

The city is accepting proposals and suggestions for the use of this "east wing" until May 1. Proposals may be submitted to the City Clerk at 120 Vista Ave., Piedmont, CA 94611 or to jtulloch@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

Proposals will be reviewed at the May 6 City Council meeting, when a decision may be made for use of the wing. The public is invited to comment at the meeting as to uses for the city-owned property.

The city is considering a preschool day care facility at the site that would generate some income. Piedmont has several preschool programs through the recreation department, but Recreation Director Mark Delventhal said there are often waiting lists and that demand exceeds supply.


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Much work would have to be done on the city's dime -- $150,000 or more -- to make the space habitable, Delventhal said. Flooring, painting, windows, heating and air, child-sized bathrooms and fixtures and code upgrades would be needed. If the space functioned as a multiuse center with children during the day and senior programming in the evenings, a design would have to be incorporated to serve both groups. He added that the city has not budgeted for this expense at this time.

Nancy Lehrkind, founder of the Center for the Arts, said the nonprofit's board has a strong vision for the space that would be a natural extension with a continuing focus on the arts.

"We are already busting at the seams with events, more than we can accommodate in one big room," Lehrkind said.

PCA hosts student and adult art exhibits, "mini" plays, musical groups, book signings and other artsy events.

The extra wing, if the council were to approve their plan, could function as a "senior clubhouse" two days a week, a rehearsal space for community orchestra, a permanent display space for historical documents and paintings and a film screening room. It could hold adult art and dance classes and photography workshops.

"It would be a multiuse center, to be used by as many people as possible," Lehrkind said. "Let the community infill come to us. This is a business model that works so well."

She estimates the space could be rehabilitated for about $25,000 using in-kind labor and donations, much like the performing arts center was renovated.

They would hire someone to manage the programming at the east wing.

The nonprofit hopes there is interest in the proposal, that might include paying rent to the city.

"We've got our game on. We have experience with this" and been very successful, Lehrkind said.

The council will consider any and all proposals that are submitted for use of the space.

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