Now It Resides in the Purview of the Diplomats

The many steps to opening (we've reached stage CYAN)

Well it’s time to see if we did our homework, dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s. After working with electricians, architects, HVAC inspectors, contractors and more, we’ve assembled a mighty proposal for the City of Phoenix. Here’s how we got there.

Customer Requests Development Information:

That was pretty much exactly what we did. We went and met with the city to determine exactly what steps we’d need to take to open. Unfortunately, every business is different in terms of what they need to do to open. So we had to build a game plan as it were.

Zoning Review

Before any inspections or code was even discussed, we realized that since 4721 used to be a barber shop and now was going to be a theatre, we’d need to revamp some of the existing setup at the space.

Most immediately was the realization that we’d have many more people in the space at a time than a barbershop ever would so we’d have to reclassify the space to a theatre. But theatre is a pretty vague term in cityspeak, so Erin Andres down at City Hall did a lot of homework to help us out and make sure we were classified properly for what we were planning to do. We were ready to move to the next step

Site Plan Review

Of course this change means lots of changes in our requirements to open. More electricity, more parking spaces, more access to exits in case of a fire. But how much? This is when the math started.  Different sections of our space have different uses. The maintenance room, for example, probably won’t have too many people in it at once, but the audience area will.

Unfortunately for us, the space is very open in its current state, and the boundaries within the space between zones aren’t really clear. Considering the size of the building and access to exits, it just wasn’t safe for us to designate the entire building to audience space.  There would be too many people to get out safely in case of a fire.

That’s where Jim Pinnella came in. Jim worked with Erin and Jason at the city to find a way to rezone the areas of our space to make it a safe experience.  Some of those zones needed to be actually partitioned off so a layout plan was created to show what the floor plan will have to look like before we can open.

Other considerations were made for the floorplan too, including handicap access, exit paths, etc. After a couple of backs and forths between Jim, Jason and ourselves we came up with a floor plan that would be safe, but also a great theater.

That was inside.

Outside was a different matter. There’s plenty of parking around us, but there are some city requirements on parking for a business such as ours. At first it looked like we were actually 2 parking spots shy of our goal. This meant we’d have to apply for a parking variance; a waiver to the rules.  It’s pretty likely that we would have received a variance based on our hours of operation and access to public transportation, but it would still cost us a lot of money and time for a review process (both by the city and in a public waiting period open to the public).

Fortunately, the parking specialist over at the city worked his mathematical magic and found a way for us to zone ourselves a little leaner to avoid needing that overlay. But we still needed to complete a plan for the parking situation.

Construction Plan Review

Then came the heavy paperwork. Once the city approved our plans general plans, we had to show a little more specifically how we were going to make them happen. Although the floor plan was set up properly, we had to show that we had a specific plan on how to get it done safely. In addition to our architect, we opened our doors to several specialists, an electrician, an HVAC specialist, a mechanical specialist and a plumbing specialist. Each of these specialists reviewed our plans to make sure that we had the capacity to provide the water, electricity etc safely to our patrons.

The good news was that we had more than enough of everything to meet our needs without having to install any additional infrastructure. The additional good news was that most of it would only need to be modified in minimal ways to suit the new floorplan.

The one exception was the need to make our toilet more ADA compliant and add a drinking fountain.

And then all of the specialists retrieved to their respective lairs, putting together very detailed plans of exactly where the electrical wiring would go and where the air intake vents would be with the new setup.

In the end, between the architectural drawings, the parking proposals, the electrical diagrams, the A/C diagrams, the plumbing diagrams and the miscellanous notes. They assembled a packet that weight about 4 lbs (I checked).

This was our proposal to the city.

The proposal was submitted to the city on Friday September 17th, 2001. The proposal has to go through two stages of approval from many departments. The first phase generally takes around 11 business days and the second generally takes around 7 business days meaning hopefully we’ll get approval on our plan on or before October 12th.

So What Then?

Between now and then we need to secure a general contractor. The contractor will ensure the building process actually goes on according to the proposed plan. The city may need some changes made to our proposal, but once it’s approved we will obtain our building permit and then our hands will get dirty.

All of the changes to the space will start happening and then we will finally obtain our certificate of occupancy meaning we can play for an audience in our lovely new space.

Good things are coming.

Posted in Improv

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