Get ready for some welcome construction dust up in your area, Boulder.
Your favorite locally-based public radio program, eTown, announced yesterday that it will get a $2 million loan from Public Radio Capital to renovate its new home, to be called eTown Hall. The building, a former church near 16th and Spruce streets in downtown Boulder, will house the nonprofit radio program’s performance spaces, recording studios, offices and more.
The renovation was long in the works but stalled due to the economy, said eTown founder Nick Forster.
“What’s interesting is that it’s really an odd building but uniquely well suited to eTown,” he told us yesterday. “It was a long process of getting it started. We’ve owned the building for more than a year and a half, so we spent a long time in preparation, basically just going through the design and engineering and permitting and laying all the groundwork, which has been been many years in the making.”
The organization has raised about $650,000 of the $4 million needed for the project, with a tentative completion date around eTown’s 20th anniversary on April 22, 2011.
Public Radio Capital, also based in Boulder, funds projects for public broadcasters across the country. Read the full text of the press release below.
“Public Radio Fund Loans eTown $2 million to Begin Construction on eTown Hall in Boulder
(Boulder, Colo.) Public Radio Capital (PRC) and eTown today announced a $2 million loan to eTown from PRC’s Public Radio Fund.
eTown is a unique radio program that brings environmental information, conversation and live music to audiences nationwide. Founded by Nick and Helen Forster in 1991 as an independent voice on the radio, eTown is also a civic-minded nonprofit organization that purchased an old church in the middle of downtown Boulder in hopes of better serving its audience. By converting the rundown church into eTown Hall, eTown’s founders plan to prepare the organization for changes in the media landscape while providing their hometown with its only acoustically ideal listening room. Public Radio Capital has stepped in to help get them started with a $2 million loan while eTown continues with its capital campaign.
The $2 million loan from the Public Radio Fund will allow eTown to begin the first phase of construction on the 17,000 square-foot eTown Hall. That phase will include the majority of the mechanical systems, roofing and utilities, along with renovation of just 25 percent of the interior—the section that will house administrative offices and editing studios. “We could not be more appreciative of Public Radio Capital’s efforts. Their goals are aligned with ours, and their support will help keep this ambitious project moving forward” said eTown founder, Nick Forster.
With this positive step, eTown hopes to begin Phase II later in 2010 as they continue with capital campaign fundraising. Once completed, eTown Hall will be a LEED certified green building, generating the majority of its power on site through an extensive array of solar panels and other energy efficient measures. eTown Hall will include a small theater for live performances and broadcasts, a “Community Room,” a recording facility for radio and TV (in a former gymnasium), dressing rooms for visiting artists and administrative offices. “Given that PRC and eTown are both nonprofits headquartered in Boulder, we are delighted to make this loan to eTown,” said Erin Moran, manager of the Public Radio Fund. “These challenging economic times require nonprofits to work together,” she added.
PRC was represented by Kutak Rock’s Denver office in the transaction.
ETown was conceived by Nick Forster, a founding member of the renowned bluegrass group, Hot Rize. Harnessing the power of live music for the greater good was the simple concept behind eTown’s inception, but bringing it to the radio required help from Nick’s wife, Helen Forster, former co-producer of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Now, the show is heard weekly on nearly 300 radio stations around the country. Like old-time radio variety shows, every eTown show is taped in front of a live audience and features performances from many of today’s top musical artists as well as conversation and information about our communities and our environment.
More information about eTown is available at etown.org
About Public Radio Capital
Public Radio Capital’s mission is to strengthen and expand noncommercial media to provide local communities nationwide with more in-depth information, unbiased news, diverse music and cultural programming. Since its founding in 2001, PRC has worked with more than 200 public radio organizations, and completed transactions totaling more than $220 million, securing access to public radio services for approximately 43 million people. In Oct. 2007, PRC launched the Public Radio Fund to benefit public radio organizations in need of short-term capital for asset-based projects. Public broadcast organizations are invited to apply for capital loans from the Public Radio Fund to increase and diversify public radio program services for more people in communities across the country. The Public Radio Fund has investment commitments of nearly $10 million from Calvert Social Investment Foundation, Ford Foundation, Nonprofit Finance Fund, NPR, Inc., and individual investors. Loans from the Public Radio Fund range from $100,000 to $3 million. Investors in the Fund receive 0 to 4 percent.
More information about PRC and the Public Radio Fund is available at publicradiocapital.org.”
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John Wenzel is the co-editor of Reverb, editor of the Get Real Denver blog and an A&E reporter for The Denver Post. His book “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” was recently published by Speck Press. He also maintains a Twitter feed of random song titles.