There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the folks over at the Transfer Warehouse. After eight years of approvals, Telluride Arts District received the final greenlight for the warehouse last week during the Telluride Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
“It means there are no more roadblocks in our way. Everything is approved. The design is approved, and the project is approved. Now, all we need is money,” Telluride Arts Executive Director Kate Jones said.
The P&Z meeting revolved around a zoning incentive, which comes with a National Historic Landmark, like the warehouse. The incentive allows for a parking variance. Housing and parking are typically required for new development but are omitted for historical sites, so the landmark’s integrity is not affected or damaged.
In 2021, the architectural firm Olson-Kundig was hired to “reimagine” the warehouse. The new building plans included a ceiling covering two-thirds of the building, with a large glass door that opens like a tilt-up-and-over-canopy garage door, and rooftop space, among other amenities and additions.
Over the past year, Telluride Arts has experienced a series of setbacks. Many chapters have since followed the announced plans, including meetings and approvals centered around the redefinition of a roof, noise ordinance and the renewal of the warehouse liquor license.
On May 17, Telluride Arts submitted a formal request to the Telluride Liquor License Authority that its liquor license curfew be extended to match the current noise ordinance in the Town of Telluride approved by Town Council on May 10. The previous license was attached to the old noise ordinance.
“A modification to the current Arts Liquor license will enable the Warehouse to remain open this summer and actively preserve the heart and soul of Telluride. By allowing Telluride Arts to align with the updated noise ordinance, the Warehouse will better be able to continue supporting the mental, social, and economic health and welfare of our artists and community at large,” according to the May 17 request.
During Thursday afternoon’s special liquor licensing authority meeting, Transfer Warehouse Bar Manager Geneva Shaunette and Transfer Warehouse Manager Jereb Carter represented Telluride Arts. Lois W. Major, the liquor licensing hearing officer, approved the request so that alcohol sales at the warehouse could extend to 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and certain holidays.
Jones explained this request is temporary and applies to the warehouse’s current use during the summer. Once construction starts, everything will shift.
“There will be more robust programming. … It will be a very different kind of venue while maintaining the things that we love about the warehouse as a welcoming, indoor and outdoor community space. None of that’s going to go away, but we are just going to have so much more capacity for cultural programming in there,” Jones said.
Now, Telluride Arts can focus on its ongoing capital campaign. To fund the warehouse project, Telluride Arts must raise $15 million by Oct. 27. Currently, they have $11 million to go, Jones said.
“But we had $12 million to go a couple of weeks ago, so that feels really good. We have a very tight timeline to raise a lot of money, and we’ve just been waiting on these final approvals to start full-throttle asking for money,” Jones said.
With the recent final approval, Austin Halpern, Telluride Arts exhibitions and events manager, looks forward to refocusing energy on community benefit concerts and other summer events.
“Coming up, we’ve got everything from the Summer Arts Bazaar to bluegrass music throughout the festival to local poetry nights with Talking Gourds,” he said. “It’s going to be a wonderful summer in the warehouse, and just imagine how great it’ll be to add flexible indoor/outdoor spaces, running water, rooftop views and more.”
For more about Telluride Arts and the project, visit telluridearts.org.