Pineville arts center needs a new home
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Friday, Dec. 13, 2013

Pineville arts center needs a new home

With a purchase offer made for one of Pineville’s historic buildings, local artists may no longer have a home downtown.

The Civic and Cultural Arts Center has called 316 Main St. home since 2009.

Founded in 2008, the nonprofit center started with the mission of being a “regional service and supplier for the performing and visual arts, craftsmen, musicians and creative writers, as well as a hub of activity for community service organizations, educational outreach programs and a cultural showplace,” according to the organization.

The group provides regular art classes and also hosts art shows.

But a year ago, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, which owns the building, put the 2,648-square-foot property on the market.

Dan Morrill, consulting director for the landmarks commission, said the organization does not like to hold onto real estate for long; still, he said, the commission does put restrictive covenants on buildings to make sure they’re protected.

Around Thanksgiving, the Historic Landmarks Commission received an offer for the building fromWilliam DeNicola. The commission counter-offered in early December, and the negotiations continue, said Morrill.

Morrill said DeNicola plans to put a combination antique store and furniture-refinishing business in the building.

“That puts pressure on the CCAC to find a location, and find a location quickly,” said Pineville administrator Haynes Brigman. “They also are coming from the standpoint that they want to find something that’s permanent and stable for them instead of moving around and being in that gray area.”

Morrill said the commission had been open to the idea of the arts organization purchasing the building, but ultimately the group “didn’t have the resources.”

“Our purpose is preservation, and we have a serious offer on the table and we need to consider it,” said Morrill. “We’d certainly give full notice to CCAC to vacate. We don’t want them to feel in any way pressured, but they’ve known for some time the building was for sale.”

The Civic and Cultural Arts Center faces a decision. Executive Director Lee Baumgarten told Pineville council members at their Dec. 10 meeting that he does not believe the current facility allows for future growth.

Already, he said, the space is cramped because it only has one main room used for art shows and classes. There is very little room in the building for administrative work, he said.

“I don’t think the space is large enough for us to grow into,” said Baumgarten. “I think it’s conducive for us to grow out of.”

Although some council members have said they would not support the town purchasing the building for the arts organization, town staff has offered the Civic and Cultural Arts Center the use of two vacant houses on Dover Street that Pineville owns, said Brigman. Both would require renovations.

But as staff and officials acknowledged, both houses would be only short-term solutions, because the arts organization likely would outgrow them quickly.

“It is going to be a Band-Aid,” said Mayor Pro Tem Melissa Rogers Davis.

Baumgarten said he expects to need 8,000 square feet of space for the center in the next couple of years.

Council member Les Gladden said that if the organization is going to move into a larger facility, he wants to see more diversity in the programming. “Lee is very good at what he does, but there are many more elements of cultural and civic arts that we’re not even touching,” said Gladden.

Baumgarten said that, regardless of where they move next, it’s especially important the center has a permanent location somewhere, or people may start to forget about the Civic and Cultural Arts Center.

“It worries me, because once you lose that momentum, you somewhat lose your following and maybe lose your support,” he said.

Brigman said staff is compiling options for the center’s next location.

“We need to make sure the space works for them,” Brigman said to council members Dec. 10. “We need to make sure we don’t spend $14,000 to up-fit a home that might not be the best for their purposes.”

Brigman will present the findings to council and Baumgarten during the Jan. 14 meeting.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero

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