“The JAS Center” Includes the Historic Red Onion
and Adjacent New Construction
See Aug. 2 Aspen Times Article:
“New JAS Performance Center will be built around historic Red Onion in downtown Aspen”
Aspen, CO, – Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) announced today that it is under contract to purchase the existing 2nd floor of the historic Red Onion building plus adjacent 2nd floor spaces that will be remodeled from their current office use. The JAS Center will also include a Cooper Street Mall front entrance (the former Tesla space) which will have a 2nd floor added for a two floor JAS Gallery of iconic artist photos from its 28 Year collection. The JAS Center will become an exciting permanent part of the Aspen Experience with its new home in the Aspen core for JAS Café performances, jazz education programming, and special events for private as well as not-for-profit and community users. The JAS Center will also become the summer home for the prestigious all scholarship Frost JAS Academy, to be co-presented by JAS and the highly acclaimed Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
The Center will feature multiple seating arrangements for multiple uses, a green room, a saloon and a catering kitchen, in addition to state-of-the-art lighting and sound and A/V with a retractable screen capable of video or film projection.
The JAS Café’s rapidly growing “Jazz Spoken Globally” performance schedule will be expanded, featuring amazing talent from all over the world. The new building will allow for more flexibility around artists’ touring schedules, which JAS currently lacks without a permanent home. In its nightclub performance format, the Café will have a seating capacity of approximately 150.
In its theater-style, 200+ row-seating format, the JAS Center will serve as a year-round home for JAS In-School music education programs aimed at public schools of the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond. “JAS will be able for the first time to offer our local students and teachers a consistent year-round space for rehearsal, practice, study, and performance,” said Horowitz. The theatre-style format and permanent production facilities will be ideal for corporate or association meetings, as well as Not for Profit and Community group usage.
Additionally, JAS is in early planning stages to enhance and expand its flagship summer jazz education residency as The Frost JAS Academy, presented in collaboration with the prestigious Frost School of Music at The University of Miami, with plans to ultimately extend the program from its current mid August time-frame into a summer-long program at The JAS Center. Under the direction of Dean Shelly Berg, a 5-time Grammy Nominee, the Frost School of Music has become a nationally recognized program noted for its focus on producing successful musicians trained not just in performance but in the business of music in the 21st century. The 6-time Grammy winning Bassist Christian McBride will continue his historical and ongoing role as the program’s Artistic Director.
The JAS Center will have the Red Onion 2nd floor space at its very heart, returning it to one of its original uses, the saloon, not the bordello. Attendees will enter the main 2nd floor venue directly through the original upstairs Onion saloon, which will include a new bar with direct sight lines to the elevated stage in the adjoining JAS Café & Learning Center and feature new, reduced priced tickets during performances.
Also featured will be a 700 square foot terrace facing Aspen Mountain, overlooking the Cooper Street Mall, and offering a stage view for patrons sitting outside during summer performances. A second smaller terrace will flank the JAS Gallery on the east side of the Red Onion. JAS’ archive of over 28,000 photos of countless iconic artists performing on JAS’ many stages, will be featured in rotating, thematic exhibitions throughout the year in the 2-story JAS Gallery.
“Establishing a permanent home for JAS in Aspen’s core has been a dream for years. More recently, it is a central objective of our Strategic Plan,” said Horowitz. “This new intimate space will add a unique civic asset to Aspen’s core, while re-claiming and building around an original historical Aspen landmark, assuring permanent, public access to The Onion, which was built in 1892, just three years after The Wheeler Opera House. During the 1950’s, the Red Onion hosted performances by iconic jazz figures including Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Oscar Peterson (see sample articles here). Ray Brown, who taught and performed at JAS in 1994 & 1996, told audiences stories of his 1950’s appearances at the Onion. The addition of the JAS Center to Aspen’s core helps create a mini Not for Profit Arts & Education district, anchored by the Aspen Art Museum on one end, the Wheeler Opera House on the other and the new JAS Center in between.
“The need to increase vitality in Aspen and the Core has been a drumbeat from the community for years. ” continues Horowitz. “The JAS Center is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to create a lasting, versatile and intimate space, a hub of activity that will only further burnish Aspen’s reputation for the variety and quality of its off-mountain activities and its unparalleled reputation for world-class arts.”
JAS looks forward to working with the Wheeler Board and the City of Aspen to help offer the new JAS Center to not-for-profit and community users who need attractive yet historic space for professional meetings, fund-raisers or other special-event gatherings. The JAS Center will also be available for rent to corporate groups or private social events. Next door on the second floor will be an adjacent, new restaurant and terrace, which will provide food for events at The JAS Center.
The property purchase and its new construction are projected to cost $15 Million. JAS is initiating its “Keep the Music Playing” campaign immediately, with the plan of ultimately securing the $15 million and an additional $10 million to establish an initial JAS Endowment for a total target Capital & Endowment Campaign goal of $25 million raised over (5) years. The JAS Center has a projected opening date of December 2020 at the conclusion of JAS’ 30th Anniversary Season.
During the initial due diligence period, JAS will focus on developing detailed architectural plans for the JAS Center, followed by necessary inspections and granting of municipal approval permits for its design plan and projected usage. April 2019 is tentatively projected to be the launch of construction, which would last approximately 18 months, assuming all approvals are in place.