From BW freelancer Breland Draper:
Plans by the Treasure Valley Institute for Children’s Art (TrICA) to renovate the old Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church on 14th and Eastman are moving along much more slowly than anticipated.
A group called Save 14th Street has arisen during the last several months and voiced concerns regarding TrICA’s project, specifically the traffic and parking stresses if may bring to the street.
According to Kerena Youtz, one of the more vocal neighbors, the group says that it first supported TrICA’s efforts to build up the community but now feels that some of the plans may interfere with the neighborhood.
TrICA, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, bought the church earlier this year with plans to turn the historic building into a center consisting of a library, dance studio, performance space, and employee offices.
Kerena says that she wants people to understand that no one in the neighborhood is against TrICA’s dance programs, but that there are a few concerns regarding the organization’s plans to hold weddings and business conferences in the building. She fears the outcome of increased traffic and parking that these events would draw to the residential area.
To lessen the fears of streets packed with cars, TrICA purchased the foreclosed house next door at 1509/1511 N. 14th and plans to restore the lot as a children’s garden and a parking area to accommodate for about 20 vehicles. But this response just brought up another problem for the neighborhood. The North End is known for its historic and architecturally diverse homes, and the neighbors fear that in order to put up a parking lot TrICA will have to demolish the 100-year old house next door.
TrICA has not yet come up with a plan for the house but feels confident that the project can be completed without tearing it down. They have even hinted at plans to renovate the house for office space.
At a recent North End Neighborhood Association meeting TrICA’s founder and leader Jon Swarthout described a two-phase process. The first phase consists of initial restoration, including work on the structural support of the church and remediation of meth residue and lead paint. The second phase would consist of completely restoring the church, applying for permits, and construction on the lot next door. Phase one is estimated to take about six months to complete, and until then phase two is nothing but an idea.
TrICA and the neighbors have sat down with each other to discuss their options, but for now the fate of 14th Street is unknown.