BAY VILLAGE — BAYarts began renovations of it playhouse as part of their campus expansion on last July and finished the first phase in January.

“Our goal was to have the first phase done by Jan. 8 for our winter classes, which we were able to do,” said Nancy Heaton, BAYarts’ executive director.

While a temporary classroom is currently functional to allow classes to continue, the renovations will bring much-needed space and resources to the building once the final phases are completed.

“When it is open, we will have more classrooms, including a painting studio, a fiber-arts studio, digital arts studio, jewelry studio and woodworking shop just to name a few,” Heaton said. “And we’ll have some others that are just general classrooms.”

In pursuit of a modern-barn look, extensive work was needed, with the cost of completing phase one totaling $240,000. Heaton said there was a lot more work to be done than originally thought.

“We are going from a space that used to be a theater and was outfitted to be a theater to we need a functioning art room,” Heaton said. “It had to be ADA accessible, safe. All the safety issues that had never been addressed or were dated, we had to update.”

The 240-seat theater inside the playhouse was gutted, with the goal of creating a flexible space that can be multi-functional. It will not be like a typical theater upon completion.

“We are trying very hard to take that word ‘playhouse’ out of it,” Heaton said of the building. “It used to be the Huntington Playhouse, but it’s now part of BAYarts. We are not going to have that community theater.”

As the plans shift toward the next phases, Heaton said there is still a lot of work to be done, as they are in the process of fundraising.

“We need to raise another $2 million to do phase two and three,” Heaton said. “Right now, we are just waiting for some more funding. We continue to plan programming.”

Heaton said while they are slightly behind schedule, BAYarts anticipates having occupancy of the whole building by early 2020.

“There’s going to be nothing like it,” Heaton said. “It’s very exciting.”

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