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Performing Arts Center may feature rooftop seating

NASHUA – Plans for the downtown Performing Arts Center remain in a state of flux, but current concepts call for an interior seating capacity of 750 – and a rooftop terrace featuring food and drink at a height of 65 feet.

Meanwhile, the building’s entrance is set for the corner of Main and West Pearl streets.

Minor adjustments may occur, but Nashua Director of Economic Development Tim Cummings said officials have the basic idea of how the interior of the former Alec’s Shoes building will look once it is transformed into the center.

Cummings discussed these plans with Board of Aldermen members this week.

“They’re currently out right now, being analyzed by the sub-consultants and getting the cost estimates done, and hopefully we’ll have some information back soon relative to how these floor plans will work for us.” Cummings said of the sketches.

At this point, plans call for a seating capacity of 750, depending on how it is constructed between the telescopic and balcony seating. Members of the PAC Steering Committee are making their way through schematic design, and Cummings said they are on schedule.

“The main entrance is looking to be at the corner of Pearl and Main, again the corner of West Pearl and Main is where we are focusing,” Cummings said.

He said the rooftop terrace will feature seating for the venue in terms of entertainment space, possibly with food and drink on the roof deck. To give a sense of the elevation for how high that would be, Cummings said if looking from outside, it would be something along the lines of 65 feet or thereabouts.

“We are continuing to work toward trying to find the private capital necessary to continue moving this project forward,” Cummings said. “We are very optimistic that we will obtain the private capital necessary to be able to move this project forward into the construction phase.”

Moreover, the center’s lighting is going to be self-contained, and Cummings said he believes the Steering Committee has the desire for the building to be transparent so people can see into the lobby as much as possible.

The center is set to feature a designated space for those with VIP status. This space would be utilized in the event someone wants to sponsor production, or conduct some sort of entertainment with clients.

Cummings said many venues these days have a luxury box type of feel. However, one potential issue that came forward addressed utility wires. These will have to at least be shut down during construction. Aldermen Richard Dowd said he would prefer if the wires were buried.

“It is fair to say that the utility providers have sent us a very clear message that they would prefer us not to disturb the utility lines and, in particular, not bury them under ground. But if that was to come to be, then they would be willing to have that conversation with us,” Cummings said.

If the body wanted to even remotely entertain that type of project, Cummings suggests it be a second project that would have to come in relatively quickly with a separate appropriation, and then delay the project by a year.

“I would love to see the utilities buried under ground – from a streetscaping standpoint, from an urban planning standpoint,” Cummings said. “I think it would really help improve Pearl Street, no question.”

Nonetheless, in the event of having to shut off utilities, officials said there would be limited-to-no-disruption in power for surrounding businesses. Cummings said service would be maintained as much as possible, with very limited disruption if they were to turn off the utility lines and power as is necessary to do the construction.

At this point, officials are waiting for cost estimates for reworking the utility poles to the other side of the street or burying. They should have that data in the next couple weeks.

Cummings will be back again before the board at the end of April to provide an additional update.