By Josh Petray
A vibrant visual arts center of creativity, learning and interaction in downtown Paso Robles is now one step closer to being realized.
On Tuesday, the Paso Robles Planning Commission unanimously OK’d a future downtown art center project called Studios on the Park. The project, to be located at 1130 Pine St. in the old Pioneer Auto Parts building, will renovate an existing building to accommodate a new art studio across from Downtown City Park.
At Tuesday’s commission hearing, several members of the public spoke enthusiastically in favor of the project.
“We believe in the strategic plan that asks us to have art and culture, and this certainly will fulfill this need,” said Norma Moye, Main Street Association executive director.
Commissioner Joel Peterson said he thinks the project will be a successful one and wished the applicants the best.
“This project is definitely what makes me proud to be a Paso Roblan,” he said after the unanimous vote. “This is just an amazing project.”
The project garned the support of Main Street as well as the presidents of both the San Luis Obispo Art Center and Paso Robles Art Association, said applicant Anne Laddon.
Laddon, a professional artist for more than 28 years who move to the Central Coast in 1984 and helped found a larger-scale project in Washington D.C., said the project will provide for two nonprofit galleries, other guilds and workshops.
“I love Paso, and we are missing the visual arts in our town,” she told the commission.
Paso Robles residents Dale Gustin and John McCarthy also spoke in favor of the project.
Architect Larry Gabriel said that when the project started out, the idea was much larger than the existing building. The project team spent six months refining the project after some initial input from staff. Gabriel said he feels that after refining the plans they’ve gone above and beyond meeting the historical requirements.
The property has a historical connection dating back to the 1930s as a Packard/Hudson showroom, according t a city staff report. During the early 1900s, the city had a handful of auto-oriented businesses, as its commercial core was strategically built adjacent to the former state highway – or Spring Street.
“This property is one of the last remaining properties that has this architectural character associated with it,” said community Development Director Ron Whisenand.
The building was also shaken up during the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake.
“This is one of the last remaining pieces that is still standing there,” said Matt Masia, owner of the Adelaide Inn and president of the Main street Board of Directors.
Masia said that he thought the new project would be good for tourism and that he supported it.
Though the cit’s current Historical Resource Inventory doesn’t list the property as a potential historical resource, subsequent analysis by historians has revealed that the building meets the state’s thresholds for historical significance, according to a city staff report.
The City Council will be looking at an updated historic resource inventory as part of the Uptown/Town Center Specific Plan, Whisenand said.
Designating 1130 Pine St would have no impact on the commission’s decision, since it made the findings that the changes to the building are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic resources, city officials said.