Plans for downtown performance theater go to city |

Plans for downtown performance theater go to city

Terry and Susie Koch of rural Steamboat Springs have submitted a conceptual plan to the city for a small performing arts theater on Yampa Street.

River House Theater would seat about 250 people on two levels for music, theater, comedy, films and dance productions, Terry Koch said. Part of Koch’s dream is to design a theater with facilities for Web casts, video and digital sound recording in mind.

“This is going to be so much fun,” Koch said. “What we’re doing here is something we hope will be a staple in the community for years. I could do this for the rest of my life.”

Koch studied film and television in college, but his career has been in contracting. He and two brothers have a successful construction framing business in Southern California.

The three brothers rotate among extended work shifts in California.

“I work in Southern California eight nights, then I’m home for 19 nights,” he explained.

The intended site for the theater is a small parcel of land on Yampa Street near Eighth Street. The two-tenths of an acre is occupied by a small stucco house that has commonly been referred to as the “river house.” The house is sandwiched between Yampa Blue on the east and the Steamboat Yacht Club on the west. The Koches have owned the site since 1995 when they purchased it without any specific plans.

The project has just entered the planning process — no public hearings have been scheduled. The site raises issues about river setbacks and parking availability. Koch said he anticipates the proposed building, which varies from two stories in the front to three stories in some places, should meet height restrictions.

Tentative architectural drawings by Bill Rangitsch of Steamboat Architectural Associates reflect flat roofs and covered walkways.

“Bill has done a great job with the conceptual stuff,” Koch said. “We want it to be a multipurpose building.”

The main entrance would be on the east side of the building. There would be seating on the main level in front of the stage and on a mezzanine level. Koch wants to build a proscenium stage with a curtain that would allow the changing of sets between acts in a dramatic production.

Koch envisions cabaret seating at small tables for many performances, with the option of rows of chairs to accommodate more people when necessary. Plans also call for two small bars and limited food service. The building would be smoke free.

“I don’t want to be a restaurant, but we want to offer appetizers and desserts. Maybe stuffed mushroom caps and a nice glass of cabernet,” Koch said. “Or maybe pretzels and a beer.”

Primarily, Koch wants to provide a venue for performing artists and comedians that he thinks is presently missing in downtown Steamboat.

“We have this incredible pool of local talent that deserves to have a spot,” Koch said. “It’s a small venue, but big enough to get the quality stuff.”

He thinks there are musicians and comedians coming through Colorado who would perform in Steamboat.

Koch said he has leaned heavily on the advice of Steamboat performer Scott Parker of We’re Not Clowns and his colleagues Andy Pratt and Kelly Anzalone as he develops plans for River House.

And don’t be surprised if Koch takes the stage some evening. He has played guitar for a number of low-key benefit performances during the years.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail

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