Tapestry Dance Company will take up operations this fall at 1600 S. Pleasant Valley Road in Austin’s East Riverside neighborhood.
The only fully-time professional tap repertory company in the country, the non-profit Tapestry has been without a home of its own for the past three years, piggy-backing for space at other dance studios.
Formerly the site El Gran Mercado, a Mexican market, the property at 1600 S. Pleasant Valley Road is owned by Presidium Group, a real estate development company that owns a range of other properties in the rapidly transforming East Riverside Drive area. Among Presidium properties is a retail complex where iconic live music venue Emo’s moved in 2012 after years in the downtown Sixth Street district.
Presidium plans several tent-like temporary buildings — structures similar to Circe du Soleil tents that will have floors, electricity, air-conditioning and be accompanied by upscale portable bathrooms.
Arts organization Pump Project, which provides studio spaces to artists, is also headed to 1600 S. Pleasant Valley Road, after losing its longtime home in East Austin. Pump will occupy two buildings with more than 19,000-square-feet of space.
Chris Czichos, Presidium vice president and creative director, said that the complex of temporary buildings is a “bridge solution” for arts organizations challenged for affordable space. “Austin’s national profile as a creative city is because of its musicians and artists and we all keep hearing of the dire loss of affordable space for arts groups.”
Czichos said that Presidium is working with Austin Creative Alliance to identify tenants for 1600 S. Pleasant Valley Road.
Recently, the city’s Cultural Arts Division released the released the results of its first annual Creative Space Survey which found that 51 percent artists surveyed have considered leaving Austin because of lack of affordable arts spaces.
Tapestry artistic director Acia Gray said that having a rehearsal and dance class space of its own after three years of peripatetic operations is “dream come true.”
“We really miss being able to create in the way that we can with studios of our own,” she said.
Gray said the company has a three-year lease and will begin operating at the Pleasant Valley Road facility in September.
This isn’t the first time in its nearly 30-year history that Tapestry has been buffeted by the changes in Austin’s growth. The company spent its first 10 years in a shabby warehouse off West Fifth Street just west of Lamar Blvd. — until the building was torn down to make way for condominiums in 2007.
Tapestry headed south next, to the Westgate neighborhood which was at the beginning of a transformation from modest suburbia to something approximating an urban vibe. Tapestry rented a 12,000-square-foot building that had once been a raquet ball club and spent tens of thousands on renovating the building for its needs.
Then in 2015, the building’s owner sold the property. For the last three years Tapestry has sublet class and rehearsal space at other dance studios.