NEW CANAAN — A local dance studio may rent the upper level of the former Outback Teen Center.

Bill Oestmann, superintendent of buildings, discussed the proposal at the Town Council meeting on Nov. 14.

“We’re looking to rent out the second floor and put Human Services (Department) on the lower level,” Oestmann said

The hours of operation for the dance studio would be restricted to 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays. The studio, which Oestmann declined to name, would not be allowed to put on performances there.

Moving the program to the second floor could be beneficial to both the studio and the town, Oestmann said. Currently, the location of the studio causes a traffic problem, but the move could alleviate this problem and help local businesses.

“My hope would be that if they’re waiting they (parents) can park there and shop downtown,” he said. “With an hour or two that their children are there, they can hopefully visit restaurants and shops in town and spend some money.”

The time frame would also free up parking spaces. By the time the dance studio starts around 4:30 p.m., Town Hall workers would be finished for the day and the parking lot could be empty, Oestmann said.

“There is a little breathing room in that time frame,” he said.

The estimated $35,000 in annual rent for the studio could also help New Canaan cover maintenance costs for the long-vacant structure, he said. However, funds from the town would be needed to prepare the Outback center for its new uses.

First, the Town Council would have to take up a $50,000 appropriation at its next meeting. This would go toward architectural, engineering and other services needed to renovate the lower level of the Outback.

“Another approximately $300,000 would be needed to do the actual renovation work,” Oestmann said.

On Nov. 13 the Board of Finance motioned to approve the $50,000 appropriation subject to acknowledge that it is the intention of the town to divest itself of Vine Cottage.

Town Council Vice Chairman Richard Townsend said this could be a long-term strategy for the former teen center.

“It would be used for the young people of the town as the building was intended on the second floor,” Townsend said. “The rent that we think we are going to get could offset all of the required maintenance, insurance, et cetera.”

He added the move could also take the burden of the Vine Cottage off of the Town Council.

“It will effectively move us forward on getting rid of some buildings and getting rid of some spaces that we don’t need in town. It will open that door, it’s a perfect solution,” Townsend said.

Oestmann said if approved by town funding bodies the Outback center could be ready for its new tenants in early 2019. Town Council’s next meeting is Dec. 12.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568