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ARCHIVED  July 30, 1999

Canyon Concert Ballet finds growing room

FORT COLLINS — After balancing a sweet deal on a new building against a longer trip for some of its most loyal customers, Canyon Concert Ballet is preparing to pack up and move north.

The nonprofit dance company, which offers instruction in a variety of dance genres to students throughout the Fort Collins-Loveland area, has purchased a building on Fort Collins’ northern fringe and will begin offering classes there in October.

Canyon Concert board chairwoman Jane Sullivan, mindful that the commute for most parents who drop off children for classes will be much longer, said the purchase terms were “just too good to pass up.”

The company had searched five years for a building to expand into, but found that locations in south Fort Collins were out of the company’s reach.

“To find a building that’s suitable for a ballet company is not easy,” she said. “Most were either out of our price range or would require so much remodeling that the cost would be prohibitive.”

The purchase of Canyon Concert’s 10,560-square-foot building at Conifer Street and Lemay Avenue closed in early July for $950,000. An anonymous benefactor is carrying the mortgage under terms that allow payment flexibility for the company.

“I don’t see anyone else offering us this kind of deal,” Sullivan said. “We pay the interest monthly, and pay the principle as we are able.”

The purchase came at a time of sweeping changes for the company: Executive director Art Espinoza left Canyon Concert in mid-July for a management job at the Colorado Ballet in Denver, and ballet director Lorita Travaglia has moved on to pursue a career in Chinese medicine. Decisions on two finalists for each position were expected shortly after The Northern Colorado Business Report went to press.

Espinoza, during his final week at Canyon Concert, said that the new building offers all that the company had been seeking for so long.

“We looked through the unfinished portion and said, ‘This is a studio,'” Espinoza said. “With the numbers of students, instructors and staff that we have, we needed room to spread out.”

The company will occupy 8,500 square feet of the building, leasing the rest of the space. A bank branch holds about 1,100 square feet, and another like-size space is available.

Once remodeled, the new space will house three classrooms, dressing rooms, restrooms, office space and what the staff is calling a “green room,” an open lounge for students and parents to gather.

Sinnett Builders Inc. of Fort Collins will revamp the wide-open interior of the building by October, provided that permits and other red-tape considerations can be worked through.

“The entire facility will be a specialty unit,” Espinoza said. “The classrooms will have sprung floors with some flexibility. The space is perfectly suited for what we want: bars, mirrors, light and high ceilings.”

The northside building is a far cry from the space the company now occupies in an industrial-style structure on South College Avenue near Bockman Drive. The new building, nearly five miles north of the present location, provides double the space and will allow the additions of a third studio classroom and more class offerings.

But the driving time to the new location — about 20 minutes for residents of south Fort Collins — has some parents wondering if the benefits that the new space offers are worth the inconvenience. Parents accustomed to shuttling from their homes to the studios for drop-off and pick-up from the 90-minute classes say they won’t have the time for two round-trips.

“They might lose us,´ said a parent who asked not to be named. “I’ll have no choice but to stay up there and wait. If you’ve looked around up there, you see that there’s not exactly a whole lot to do during that time.”

Sullivan said that while a vast majority of the company’s students and parents live in the city’s southern sector, none that appeared at a recent open house at the new location said the commute time would drive them away.

“There was concern, yes,” Sullivan said, “but nobody said outright that they wouldn’t come. … We’ve timed it, and it doesn’t take as much time as you might think.”

Sullivan said the space available for lease might offer an opportunity to placate parents who ferry their children to the new location.

“We’re hoping for a small restaurant, or a Starbuck’s, or something like that,” Sullivan said. “Something that parents can use.”

Espinoza downplayed the downside of the new location, saying that development plans in north Fort Collins, including the proposed Mountain Vista planned community, will open a new market to the company. He also said parents and students from the south side would easily adapt once they had made the trip a few times.

“When you grow, you stretch,” Espinoza said. “We’re in the business of training people to be flexible. It’s true that this is a bit more of a stretch, but if it’s worth it, you go. I know people who go to Berthoud, to the Savoy, because the food is so good.”

FORT COLLINS — After balancing a sweet deal on a new building against a longer trip for some of its most loyal customers, Canyon Concert Ballet is preparing to pack up and move north.

The nonprofit dance company, which offers instruction in a variety of dance genres to students throughout the Fort Collins-Loveland area, has purchased a building on Fort Collins’ northern fringe and will begin offering classes there in October.

Canyon Concert board chairwoman Jane Sullivan, mindful that the commute for most parents who drop off children for classes will be much longer, said the purchase terms were “just too good…

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