Kevin Kaiser, Evergreen City Ballet's artistic director, looks over blueprints for the Renton dance company's new studio and office space on Lind Avenue Southwest in Renton. Kaiser is standing in the future spot of two dance studios that will have a retractable wall, allowing them to transform into a Black Box Theatre. Office space will go up beyond the metal framing.

Evergreen City Ballet moving to Lind Avenue Southwest

By EMILY GARLAND
Renton Reporter staff writer
Jun 02 2009, 1:18 PM · UPDATED

Evergreen City Ballet is settling down.

The Renton company, South King County's only professional ballet company and school, recently signed a 10-year lease for new dance studios and offices in a recently constructed building on Lind Avenue Southwest in Renton.

"That 10-year stability will have an enormous impact for us and the community," says Lawrence J. Fried, ECB development director. "We're not going to be wandering gypsies anymore."

Such stability is almost unheard of for arts organizations, Fried says.

ECB has a month-to-month lease in its current spot, the large sweeping building on South Second Street that housed McLendon Hardware for decades. The nonprofit performing company has operated out of that iconic downtown Renton space since January 2006. Before coming to Renton, Evergreen City Ballet was in downtown Auburn. The company was founded in 1994.

"I can't even tell you how happy we are about it. It will be a wonderful new facility," ECB Artistic Director Kevin Kaiser says of the company's new Lind locale.

That new building, Cedar River Corporate Park, will provide Evergreen City Ballet and its patrons with professional space, Kaiser says. And, he says, the decade-long lease will allow the company to "plan more adventurous programming, attract additional students and expand our education outreach programs."

Some of that adventurous programming includes swing dance, pilates and yoga at higher levels, plus more performances.

"It's literally going to be a state-of-the-art arts facility for all levels of Renton," Kaiser says.

By "all levels," he means all of Renton's residents, from individuals, to schools and other groups.

Kaiser helped design the 7,600 square feet in the Lind building, in collaboration with Weaver Architects, based in Seattle.

The design includes three dance studios, two of which can be joined to create a 125-seat Black Box Theatre for public performances and education programs.

The Black Box Theatre will also be available for rental to local nonprofit arts groups at affordable rates.

The recently constructed, partially vacant Cedar River Corporate Park is also LEED Silver Certified, which Fried says means it was built out of recycled materials and will save ECB several thousand dollars each year on energy costs.

The sprawling office strip is also buffered by a greenbelt, and a small garden and fountain fronts ECB's portion of the building.

Construction has already begun on Evergreen City Ballet's new space and is scheduled to finish by July or early August. Fall classes should start in the Lind building on Sept. 8 or so.

"It's gone pretty fast," Kaiser said.

He's been working on securing the new spot for the past six months or so. He looked at several buildings, all in Renton.

The ballet company's Lind space will be much smaller than its current warehouse-sized footage in the old McLendon building. That South Second Street building is 33,000 square feet. Kaiser says ECB doesn't need that much space.

What ECB does need, he says, is that new 10-year lease. The month-to-month lease at the South Second building simply didn't provide that kind of stability.

Still, Kaiser says there are no issues between ECB and Alex Cugini Jr., longtime Renton resident and owner of the South Second building.

"We loved being here," he said. "Our landlord has been wonderful to us."

Cugini has owned the building since the 1950s. He found out about ECB's move just a few days ago and isn't sure what will happen to his building.

He said he has conducted preliminary studies to see if it would be wise to divide the building or turn it into retail space. He has also considered bringing in another tenant or remodeling.

"We have all these options on our table," Cugini said.

But, he added, "We haven't decided on anything yet."

The move

Evergreen City Ballet is now at 710 S. Second St. The company is moving to 2200 Lind Ave. S.W. Classes will start in the new building on Sept. 8 or so. For more information about the Evergreen City Ballet, visit evergreencityballet.org or call 425-228-6800.

How to help

To pay for the move, the Evergreen City Ballet Board of Directors has launched a capital campaign. The company hopes to raise $250,000 through this campaign, which offers individuals and companies who donate several naming rights, ranging from a theater chair to the entire building. For information about the campaign

and naming opportunities, contact: Lawrence J. Fried, ECB development director at 425-228-6800 or at Larry@evergreencityballet.org.

Registration open

Registration is open for dance classes at Evergreen City Ballet. Classes are for ages 3-adult. To register, call 424-228-6800.

Renton Reporter staff writer Emily Garland can be reached at egarland@rentonreporter.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5052.