A new performing arts studio in Midtown just christened its space, adding to a growing posse of creative hubs aiming to paint the revitalized neighborhood with artful spirit.
The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, previously housed on Calumet Street for more than 30 years, moved into a recently renovated building that contributes to the area's new official state designation as a Cultural Arts and Entertainment district. The commercial development located at 2808 Caroline St. breathes new life into what was formerly a Uniroyal Tire distribution complex and a paper mill. The dance troupe will occupy the first floor, nearly 11,000 square feet, of the two-story structure while the second level remains without a lessee.
Potential tenants need not to worry about the potential racket. Hefty noise insulation is doing its job.
"Someone else may have demolished it, but we wanted to preserve its character."
The $700,000 project, helmed by owners Larry Margolis and Ian Rosenberg of Infill Planning and Development, was seven years in the making. Keith Gendel of HarryGendel Architects designed a raw, contemporary space that re-purposed many of the materials found onsite in an effort to safeguard its original funky, quirky style.
Concrete floors were refinished, custom-made steel trusses were left exposed and and vintage windows were installed in the interior. Industrial steel light fixtures line the walls whose off-white undertones change from green to blue to gray. Purple doors and accents nod to Houston Met's colors.
"It's always tricky working with an existing building," Gendel says. "Someone else may have demolished it, but we wanted to preserve its character."
Balfour Beatty Construction offered the services of project executive Patrick Stanley in-kind. To further assist in underwriting the venture, the builder is donating its art car parade vehicle, a 1958 Edsel Pacer equipped with a caterpillar tread, for an auction on eBay, which runs through June 7.
As with many warehouses adapted for other uses, one would expect overwhelming, expansive foyers and corridors. But in lieu of wasting valuable resources on creating emotional ambiance, most of the square footage on the first floor is dedicated to increased dance studio space. This means Houston Met's capacity to offer classes has doubled.
"The new space will help us achieve national recognition for our work," Michelle Smith, company founder, tells CultureMap. "I will miss the many memories of our old home — I raised my three children there, practically.
"But we are ready to make new memories here."