Site plans for a 300-seat “adaptable theater” addition and the construction of a new lobby and elevator at Hall Auditorium, 67 North Main St., were approved April 19 by the Oberlin planning commission.
The front of the theater will include a lobby, restrooms, and ticket booth that can be used for shows at both the new addition and the existing auditorium.
Other amenities include an expanded scene shop, loading dock, and costume shop. New dressing rooms, restrooms, showers, and a green room for performers will also be built.
The project also calls for renovations to an existing office, classroom building, and black box theater.
At The Little Theater, the second floor will be replaced and raised to allow more room on the bottom level, which will result in the loss of five office parking spaces. The lighting, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems will also be replaced.
Oberlin College architect Steven Varelmann said Hall Auditorium has endured many deficiencies since being built in 1953.
“It’s had problems from the day it opened,” he said. “The lobby is too small. The restrooms aren’t handicap accessible and storage space can’t be used for rehearsals. We don’t want to overpower Hall Auditorium with these changes, just complement it.”
Twelve parking spaces will be removed in the adjacent Hotel at Oberlin parking lot and added to the auditorium’s space to make room for a drop-off area.
Some have expressed concern the addition would create a downtown parking shortage.
A recently completed study by Walker Parking Consultants concluded the additions to Hall Auditorium would create demand for 95 more vehicles during peak traffic times.
However, it also found existing lots to be only partially full, leading to the notion that smarter parking relative to destination can alleviate worries without the addition of new spaces.
“It’s anticipated there will be no change in the demand for parking from this project,” said Varelmann. “The only spaces involved in the project are the 12 removed from the hotel and added to the auditorium, a net change of zero.”
Jason Hawk and Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk and @DelozierNews on Twitter.