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Northside streets get first-ever bicycle infrastructure

The Northside’s first-ever on-street bicycle infrastructure is now in place with more to come.  Shared lane markings, or sharrows, have been painted on several key streets leading from the riverfront trail to Northside neighborhoods.  Part of a greater community-wide bicycle route, the project will eventually include bicycle lanes from the Central Northside to the Wood’s Run neighborhood.

Bike Pittsburgh’s Eric Boerer says this infrastructure will allow safer access for Northside residents to the riverfront trail system while addressing other issues of connectivity.

The new markings are along a bicycle route identified by the Northside Bike/Ped Committee.  

Jerry Green, a member of the Bike/Ped Committee, is amazed by the work being done, and how quickly the city has responded to his organization’s input.

Green says the committee views sharrows as important for raising awareness of cycling as a normal and healthy transportation option for residents and visitors.

“It legitimizes the bikes,” he says.

Green, who has been cycling for decades, says he notices a change in driver behavior while on roads with sharrows, like Penn Avenue in the Strip District.  He says he hopes it makes a difference on the Northside.

“I’m hopeful that this isn’t all, that there’s more to come,” Green says.

And new sharrows have also been laid along Penn Avenue at the Doughboy Square intersection in the Strip District.  Those markings link the Liberty Avenue bike lanes with existing sharrows in the Strip District, part of an East End-to-Downtown on-street bicycle route.

“The sketch is there,” Boerer says of the bicycle routes in progress.  “And now we're trying to work with the city to fill in the gaps to make it a more clear and present connection.  The long-term vision is to make sure there’s a network safely and clearly connecting neighborhoods with bicycling infrastructure.”  


A community meeting will be held tonight, November 30th, about the future of the former LTV (Almono) site in Hazelwood, and whether or not the riverfront trail will be extended into that neighborhood.  6:30 to 8:30 P.M., International Union of Operating Engineers, 300 Saline Street.  For more information contact Jim Richter, jwarichter@comcast.net, 412-421-7234

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Eric Boerer, Bike Pittsburgh

Project Pop-Up brings sweet shop, used books, robot repairs, and more to downtown storefronts

Thanks to Project Pop-Up, robot repairs, baked goods, and stacks of books are filling vacant storefronts in Downtown Pittsburgh. 

A first round of participants, a mix of retail businesses and art installations, recently held a soft opening during Light Up Night.  While some have remained open, including the Robot Repairs installation, the rest are reorganizing for a grand opening to coincide with Downtown’s First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve.

Laura Jean McLaughlin, co-owner of Garfield-based Awesome Books, is among those retail participants.  Her shop, which she owns with Bob Ziller, is expected to reopen Downtown by mid-December.

McLaughlin says when they heard about Project Pop-Up it seemed like a perfect way to expand their business. 

“Downtown has a lot more foot traffic than Garfield, so we thought it was just a really wonderful opportunity,” she says.  “I think it's great that the city is thinking outside the box of how to revitalize areas…only positive things can come out of it.”

Awesome Books plans to stay open late into the evening, until 8 or 9 P.M., part of the strategy to breathe new life into Downtown after 5 P.M.  And although their lease lasts a year, they would like to find a permanent location Downtown.

‘We’re looking forward to having a presence down here for a while,” Ziller says.

Other participants include The Sweet Lounge, Burghoisie handmade goods, The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa, Dream Cream Ice Cream Parlor, and Summer Sky Eternal interactive art display.  The first round includes a total of 12 storefront projects.

Project Pop-Up is a collaboration between the mayor’s office, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and URA, among other partners.  Their goals are to increase the vibrancy of downtown, for visitors and residents, increase safety, and grow interests among potential investors.

Bethany Tucke, of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, says that it’s the ultimate goal of the program to find permanent tenants for storefronts that have been vacant for long periods of time.  Already those vacancies are decreasing.  Tucke says in a few instances, new, full-lease tenants have stepped in, forcing her to find other storefronts for Project Pop-Up participants.

“It’s a good problem to have,” she says.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Laura Jean McLaughlin, Bob Ziller, of Awesome Books; Bethany Tucke; Marissa Doyle

Weigh in on transit, river access, trails and more at the Green Boulevard public meeting Thursday

A public meeting will be held in the Strip District tomorrow allowing residents to weigh in on the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard Plan.

As the first of several public meetings, attendees will have a chance to learn about the project’s progress, as well as how to provide feedback on the corridor’s design and plans.  A series of interactive activities will generate information on how residents currently use the corridor, and how they’d like to use it in the future.

The Green Boulevard is a planning project looking at a six mile stretch of rail right-of-way between Downtown, Lawrenceville, and beyond.  The goal is to transform the existing rail corridor into a multi-modal green boulevard with river and park access, bicycle and pedestrian trails, and passenger rail service, in addition to freight traffic.  

Lena Andrews, URA planning and development specialist, says planning for this corridor is important because Lawrenceville and the Strip District are growing, but the infrastructure is lacking and in disrepair.

“In order for things to keep moving there needs to be new infrastructure in that area,” Andrews says.

The Green Boulevard is a continuation of the Mayor Ravenstahl’s Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, which was released earlier this year.  Planning for the boulevard is supported by a $1.5 million grant funded by HUD and DOT, and will continue through March 2013.

Allegheny Valley Railroad, a company who controls much of the rail right-of-way, recently received a $350 million commitment to develop a passenger rail service, which would include the Green Boulevard corridor.  Andrews says both plans are integrally related, “but we just need to make sure [the passenger rail] is part of a larger citywide vision.”

Andrews says earlier research showed a huge lack of open space and infrastructure needs in the corridor, and that the Green Boulevard could solve those problems by providing a new form of mobility, new connections to downtown and Oakland, and address storm water runoff.

“All of the things that the Riverfront Vision plan pointed out were really lacking in the Strip District and Lawrenceville, this right-of-way has an opportunity to help to solve,” Andrews says.

November 17, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Society for Contemporary Craft, 2100 Smallman St. in the Strip District.  For additional information, contact Lena Andrews, 412.255.6439.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lena Andrews

The Porch, with green roof, edible garden and urban views, now open in Schenley Plaza

Although Oakland’s Schenley Plaza fills with sunbathers and lunchtime crowds during Pittsburgh’s warmer months it is seldom used in more inclement weather.  But with the opening of the The Porch at Schenley  that should soon change.  The park’s first and only dine-in eatery opened on Monday, and  hopes to bring new life to this public space throughout all four seasons.

The restaurant is part of the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group.  Mark Broadhurst, direct of concept development, says The Porch aims to be a neighborhood bistro for a busy, vibrant Oakland.

“It's supposed to be a casual, come-as-you-are, no reservations place,” Broadhurst says.

During the day, it’s geared toward people in a hurry--students, professors, hospital staff.  Orders are placed at a counter, but food and all other service is brought tableside.  In the evening, the pace slows, and a wait staff takes over.  Broadhurst says the restaurant changes pace just like the neighborhood.

Designed by WD Partners of Columbus, Ohio, over half the building’s walls are glass, opening to views of the Cathedral of Learning, Schelney Plaza, and the Carnegie Museum complex.  The building was built to LEED silver standards, and utilized recycled and local materials. 

“We really focused on being in the center of an urban park,” Broadhurst says.  “We really wanted people to look outside onto the plaza, rather than focusing on what was inside.”

Broadhurst says the menu is based around the hearth oven and rotisserie, ensuring quick preparations.  Lunch items include salads and pizzas, and sandwiches like the house smoked turkey with cranberry and grilled onion chutney, and a slow roasted pork with ricotta salata.  The dinner menu offers many sharable plates, and extended rotisserie offerings, including prime rib, porchetta, and chicken roti.

The building features a green roof, which will include an edible garden in spring.  Broadhurst says a roof-top apiary is also under consideration.

Open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner, The Porch will also begin serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.  Schenley Plaza, 221 Schenley Drive.  412-687-6724.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Mark Broadhurst

Garden Theater redevelopment project to work with Nakama, Round Corner Cantia, and Firehouse Lounge

Restaurant and bar concepts similar to Nakama, Round Corner Cantina, and the Firehouse Lounge are in the works for the former Garden Theater block in the Central Northside.

Developer Wayne Zukin, a principal with Zukin Realty, told an assembled URA board that his team, Allegheny City Development Group LLC, held letters of intent to work with the owners of those three popular Pittsburgh establishments. 

Phase one of the redevelopment project will transform the Garden Theater and several adjacent buildings into mixed use spaces, with storefronts containing dining and retail on the first floor, and apartments above.  Zukin says the owners of Nakama, a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar, are looking specifically at the former Masonic Lodge building for a restaurant concept.

“We don’t want to delay any longer,” Zukin says.  “We want to get started with the tenants that we have in hand, and get the project kickstarted.” 

Zukin hopes this first phase of development will create enough critical mass to generate interest and tenants for the remaining structures along North Avenue and Federal Street.

Zukin was awarded the development rights to the Garden Theater block in October of 2010.  He says stabilization work will begin within the next six weeks, and hopes to be out of the design phase and under construction this coming spring.

“I think it’s going to be a great asset to the Northside, and it’s a project that’s been a longtime coming,” Zukin says.  “It’s been tricky, but I think we're finally figuring it out.”

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Wayne Zukin

Sand Presso, Korean-style coffee and sandwich shop, open in the Strip

Sand Presso Coffee and Sandwich Bar, where lattes and espresso are served alongside bulgogi (marinated Korean barbecue) and chicken teriyaki sandwiches, opened recently in the Strip District.

After practicing law together for nearly 20 years, David Kim and Mark Goldstein decided to open this Penn Avenue shop together, located in the storefront below their law office.  Part of a chain that has over 50 locations in Korea, this is the first Sand Presso in the United States.  Kim’s parents, Mr. and Ms. Kim, run the day-to-day operations of the shop.

One reason for opening Sand Presso was to serve as a model for immigrants coming to the United States looking to open a business. Their law firm, Goldstein & Associates, LLC, specializes in immigration and business law.

When entrepreneurs open shops like Sand Presso, it’s not only good for supporting a family, but it contributes valuably to the region, Goldstein says.

“It’s also good for job creation in Pittsburgh,” because each new business will create jobs for U.S. workers, he notes.

Entrepreneurs in different countries have already expressed interest in opening additional Sand Presso shops in the Pittsburgh area.  But international business aside, he says the most important detail is the quality of the food and the coffee.

The shop offers cappuccino, espresso, latte, and regular coffee, among other options.  Teas, fruit smoothies, and hot chocolate are also available.  Along with the bulgogi sandwich are bibimbap -- a traditional Korean dish of rice, vegetables, and egg -- egg salad sandwiches, and other daily specials.

Sand Presso is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  1125 Penn Avenue, Strip District, 15222.  412-315-7428.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Mark Goldstein

evolveEA project in East End wins Design Award, sparks ecodistrict conversation

evolveEA has created a blueprint for transforming two city neighborhoods based on environmental equity.  
Their project, Living City Masterplan: Larimer-Homewood,  recently received AIA Pittsburgh’s Honor Award in Urban Design.  Christine Mondor, founder of evolveEA, hopes this recognition will kickstart and redirect the ecodistrict conversation in Pittsburgh.

Planning for an ecodistrict includes considering sustainable development practices, and aims to reduce the ecological footprint of a community.  Mondor says this type of planning is often done for new developments, but should be given equal attention in existing communities.

“I think that places like Larimer and Homewood are interesting because they have that texture, that history, and they've got great people to build upon to make a richer type of community,” Mondor says.  

Living City Masterplan analyzed those two neighborhoods in three basic terms: water, energy, and nutrients.  It asked, what might Larimer and Homewood look like if those three components actually started to build resiliency and economic opportunities, both for existing residents and those attracted to the neighborhood?

One of Mondor’s most interesting findings was uncovered while addressing issues of flooding near Washington Boulevard.  Although currently an industrialized setting, Mondor says the site was most likely a wetland area at one time.  

By addressing the issue of storm water runoff in an environmentally sensitive way, Mondor says it creates an opportunity to create a park-like setting that serves multiple purposes.

“You get this great opportunity to make public space that is both an amenity, but a functional landscape, and improve the general appearance and improve the connection between the neighborhoods,” she says.

Mondor says the masterplan is a tool for guiding future developments in the neighborhoods, but allows room for change as projects develop.  But ultimately it has outlined a set of principles that can guide those developments.

In terms of building progressive systems for water, energy, and food, Mondor says, “it’s one of the few systems articulated that makes the connection between the people in the community and how they need to develop the decision making capacity and take ownership.”

Click here to see a complete list of AIA Pittsburgh's 2011 Design Award Winners.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Christine Mondor

My Big Fat Greek Gyro to open in Market Square with a special design

Another new restaurant is opening in Market Square.  My Big Fat Greek Gyro, a franchise of the Peters Township original, plans to be open in the former Mix-Stirs building at 431 Market Street by the end of this year.

Co-owner Kathleen Kamouyerou-Ference says Market Square is currently a thriving location, and was the motivating factor for choosing downtown for their newest location.

Michael Ference says the eatery will be semi-fast and semi-casual.  Renovations to the building will including taking the existing windows down to floor level.  Those windows will then be able to open to sidewalk seating during the warmer months.

“We’re really looking forward to the springtime and getting involved with the Pittsburgh to Paris program and redoing the entire façade,” Ference says.  “It’ll be very airy, very open…I want to give it a Mediterranean feel in Pittsburgh.”

Ference says the interior will have a nightclub theme, and will be different from the traditional “ma and pa gyro” store.  The design will be unique to their Market Square location, including 70 inch flat-screen televisions for ordering and menus, WiFi, and color-changing LED bars and counters.

Indovina Associates Architects will design the façade renovations, along with Craig Cozza.

Sandwiches include gyros, grilled chicken, sirloan steak, and souvlaki (marinated pork shish kebob).  The menu also features a variety of salads and soups; sides like spanikopita, tyropita, grape leaves; and homemade baklava, rice puddings, and other sweets.

My Big Fat Green Gyro has four other franchise locations, in White Oak, Wexford, Cranberry, and Mt Lebanon.  

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Kathleen Kamouyerou-Ference, Micheal Ference

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza to open two Pittsburgh locations

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a restaurant which boasts NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino among its partners, opened one of two new locations in the Pittsburgh region this past weekend.  The new restaurant is  located at 1801 Settlers Ridge Drive in Robinson Township, across from the Cinemark movie theater.

Marino, a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Oakland, and the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement that for years he has wanted to bring Anthony’s to his hometown.  “It’s a thrill for me to open our first restaurant in the city I love,” he said.

Anthony’s uses 800-degree anthracite coal-burning ovens to make traditional pizzas, as well as specialty pies including roasted cauliflower, meatballs and ricotta, broccoli rabe and sausage, and Philly Cheesesteak pizzas.

Manager John Mowod says the intense heat of the coal-fired ovens locks in the flavors or a particular ingredient, and that everything at Anthony’s is prepared in those ovens.

“It’s a way of cooking that preserves the freshness of the food,” Mowod says.

Anthony’s also features what it terms “Italian Soul Food,” including coal-oven-roasted chicken wings with caramelized onions, pork ribs with vinegar peppers, and home-style meatballs.  And a dish called Eggplant Marino, which is billed as “Dan’s favorite.”

With the Robinson opening, there are now 30 Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza restaurants, with locations in Florida and throughout the Northeast.  A second Pittsburgh-area location is scheduled to open in Monroeville in 2012.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.  412-787-3434.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Ashley Rodriguez; John Mowod

Livable communities expert Dan Burden on Avalon's Lincoln Blvd. Goal? 100% destination.

Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, conducted a workshop in Avalon on Monday about the benefits of walkable communities. The goal of the workshop is to begin reinventing Lincoln Avenue, the Main Street of Avalon and Bellevue, as a “100% destination,” serving all people of all ages.

Burden cites benefits of walkable communities as being healthier, happier places, where business districts statistically perform better economically.

“Walkable and livable communities are really the foundation for the next economy” where jobs are now going to be centered, Burden says.

Burden also says young people are increasingly finding desirable places to live first and then looking for jobs, in contrast to previous generations.

After a day of walking in the community, Burden says Bellevue and Avalon, the two communities studied, have an incredible stock of houses and apartments, good street grids, and are situated near a great city.

The workshop provided multiple examples of communities that have transformed their streets from auto-centric and dangerous to welcoming environments with a real sense of place.  Focus areas for improvement include transit, crossings, gateways, trees, creating place, and curb extensions.

Based on input from residents and others taking part, the workshop will produce a report on existing conditions, and will outline strategic action steps that can be taken to make Bellevue and Avalon into what Burden calls, “a real model for what other neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area can become.”

The event was fully sponsored by the AARP of Pennsylvania.  AARP representative Kelly Altmire says a top priority of members is being able to age in place, and stay in their homes and communities.

Burden says when people are forced out of a neighborhood, for any reason, they tend not to live very long, or to not live very healthy.

“There’s an awareness that building livable, walkable places is not only good for the economy, it’s good for health, and good for everyone’s well-being,” Burden says.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Dan Burden; Kelly Altmire

Lululemon Athletica opens in Shadyside

Lululemon Athletica, a hip, yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, opened in Shadyside last Friday. The retailer makes clothing designed for yoga, running, dancing, and other sweat-inducing activities. The opening celebration included a series of in-store yoga classes taught by Darcy Lyle and Jesse Bueno.

The company chose to open a store in Pittsburgh because it’s an active, healthy community, and a good fit for the Lululemon brand and stores, says spokesperson Tracy Keough.

The fabrics used by Lululemon are wicking, which means they pull moisture away from the skin, spreading evenly throughout the fabric and evaporating quickly.  Keough says the clothes are built by athletes for athletes, using feedback focusing on fit, function and technical performance.

Designs are available for both men and women. Keough says the fabric blends are not only good for athletic pursuits, but they’re beautiful too.

Lululemon was founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson, a Vancouver veteran of the surf, skate, and snowboard business.  According to company lore, Wilson wanted to design a technical athletic fabric that was more appropriate for yoga than common cotton fabrics.  The designs he developed were successful, and sparked an “underground yoga clothing movement.”

Keough says her company seeks to create authentic relationships in communities, and is grassroots focused.  The Shadyside store hopes to be a local source for information on yoga, running, fitness, health and goal-setting.

Located at 5518 Walnut Street, in Shadyside, Lululemon Athelitca is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  412-687-3592.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Tracy Keough

Love Your Block projects complete, next round in spring

Mayor Ravenstahl’s first round of neighborhood Love Your Block projects have come to an end.  Rebecca Delphia, chief service officer in the mayor’s office, says 47 blocks were impacted by the program, with 5,800 pounds of littler collected, over 660 individual volunteers, and 3,000 hours of service.  

The neighborhood projects were also able to leverage a combined total of $7,000 in additional resources, through cash or in-kind donations.

A total of 11 projects took place in different neighborhoods throughout  the city, and included improvements to basketball and tennis courts, establishing community gardens, and the creation of a pop-up café in front of a vacant storefront in Morningside.

“They’ve been diverse and they’ve been specialized to fit the needs of that particular community,” Delphia says.

Last Friday, Pittsburgh Allderdice High School celebrated enhancements to their athletic field, funded in part by the program’s $500 grant, marking the end to their fall project.

And the final Love Your Block celebration in 2011 will take place on November 11th, when the West End Village will hold a Veterans’ Day Celebration, unveiling enhancements to the Veterans monument located in front of the Carnegie Library on 47 Wabash Street.

Delphia says these projects are a good start for city-wide revitalization efforts.

“This is another tool that's now available for communities that have been doing this work for a very long time, to move their visions forward,” Delphia says.

Applications for the Spring 2012 Love Your Block projects will be released in the early part of next year.  

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Rebecca Delphia

The Beauty Shoppe coworking space to have open house Friday, East Liberty

The Beauty Shoppe, a new innovative coworking space, is now open in East Liberty.  Located at 6014 Penn Avenue, the Shoppe will have an open house this Friday as part of the Unblurred Gallery Crawl.  

Matthew Ciccone, one of the Shoppe’s creators, says his team wanted to offer an office space in the most flexible, scalable way possible, to allow startups and entrepreneurs a good experience while taking that first, often difficult step into business.

The space is approximately 4,000 square feet, and is located on the second floor of a building in the center of East Liberty.  The Shoppe offers tenants high speed network access, shared conference rooms, and a kitchen, among other amenities.  Additionally each tenant, or member, gets a dedicated desk and chair, secure access to the building 24/7/365, webcasting  and video conferencing facilities, and a physical mailing address.

But membership rates and sizes vary, and can change from month to month.

“We’re slowly and always thinking about ways to add to the space,” Ciccone says.  “When we first opened up, we tried to keep it pretty Spartan…so that we could always add in terms of responding to what users actually required, rather than having to speculate around it.”

The project is a collaboration between East Liberty Development, Inc, Ciccone, Thinktiv, and Jenn Bee Designs.

Ciccone says his team set their base lease at roughly the cost of three cappuccinos a day, about nine dollars, which is what a coffee-shop freelancer might expect to pay.

“We can offer you a full, nice office experience with the full suite of office infrastructure, and at a price point that is about the same as Starbucks,” Ciccone says.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Matthew Ciccone

The Mattress Factory to expand with new exhibit space

A rowhouse and adjacent lot on Sampsonia Way will soon become The Mattress Factory's third exhibit space in the Northside.  

Because the Mattress Factory is an installation museum, where artists stay and work in-house, much of the gallery space can be unavailable for periods of time.  But with the new gallery spaces, museum spokesperson Lindsay O'Leary says, “there will always be something new for the public to see.”

The 1890 Victorian home, located at 516 Sampsonia Way,  was most recently an installation by Ruth Stanford titled Dwelling Home.  As part of that exhibit, the home’s windows were replaced with gravestone-like markers that listed the former occupants of the home.  Those markers will remain on site, but will be removed from the facade.

In addition to the rowhouse, an adjacent lot will be used for both education and performance programs, and outside installations.  Sota Construction will lead the renovation work, which will be done using environmentally friendly and energy-saving practices.

The Mattress Factory’s main exhibit space, located at 500 Sampsonia Way, was founded in 1977.  A second exhibit space, at 1414 Monterey Street, reuses a former storefront and upstairs home.  O'Leary says the museum is conscious of the surrounding Victorian neighborhood, and tries to keep facades similar to what they were originally.

“We don't ever tear anything down,” O’Leary says.  “We just rehab it so we can use it again in a different way.”

The officially groundbreaking will take place on Thursday,  November 10th, at 10 a.m., and is free and open to the public.  412-231-3169.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lindsay O’Leary

Pittsburgh Dance Center to open in Bloomfield, largest in city

Beginning November 1st Bloomfield’s former Plaza Theater will become the home of the new Pittsburgh Dance Center, a 5,000-square-foot dance studio.  But for those eager to move, this Saturday and Sunday the center will be open for special Halloween themed Salsa, Tango, and Ballroom dance parties.

“It’s a really fun time of the year, and it's kind of fun to dress up and be silly, and dance,” says  Holly Dayton-Kirby, owner of the Pittsburgh Dance Center.

The dance center, located at 4765 Liberty Avenue, will be open seven days a week.  Adult lessons will begin at 7 p.m., and offerings include Ballroom, Tango, Bachata, Salsa, and Swing.  Each evening, lessons will be followed by a dance party for attendees.

And after school youth programming is scheduled for Monday through Friday, featuring Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Modern styles, as well as Zumba and yoga.

Located on the second floor of the former theater, Dayton-Kirby says she was lucky to inherit the theater’s ceiling, which retains original bass trapping properties along with beautiful craftsmanship.

“This theater ceiling is making it Acoustic Heaven in a way,” she says.

Dayton-Kirby was born and raised in Bloomfield, and says opening this center is an effort to give back to the community where she was raised.  She hopes to be able to offer scholarships for youth with an interest in dance, and will be competitively priced.

“Some people don’t dance because they can't afford it, and that's not fair,” Dayton-Kirby says.  “I lucked out as a kid and got a lot of scholarship based on my talent.  If that wasn't available I wouldn't be dancing today.”

Until the end of the year, all lessons will be offered on a drop-in basis; youth lessons $5, adults $10.  

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Holly Dayton-Kirby
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