By Rachel Caldwell
29 April 2020
Soon after taking the reins of San Francisco–based Smuin Contemporary Ballet in 2007, artistic director Celia Fushille realized that if the company was going to stay afloat, it would need its own building. With rental rates for commercial spaces in the Bay Area skyrocketing over the past decade, continuing to lease grew unsustainable for the 26-year-old nonprofit troupe. “We tried to lease, but couldn’t compete with tech companies,” says Fushille. “In 2009, I said to my board that we needed a permanent home for Smuin. I didn’t see how we were going to survive otherwise.”
Thanks to a $10 million capital campaign and a fortuitous collaboration with a dancer-turned-real-estate broker, that vision has now become a reality with the purchase of a 7,200-square-foot warehouse space in Potrero Hill, San Francisco.
After years of being nomads, Smuin could no longer justify the ballooning rental rates in the area. A typical commercial lease for an industrial or warehouse space in San Francisco runs about $60 to $72 per square foot compared to a national average of $26. Tack on the taxes, insurance and maintenance fees, and renting gets high pretty fast.
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