Realtor finds use for own empty square feet: Dance space, and launch for arts community
Dancers at a loss since the closing of Green Street Studios five days ago suddenly have a new option: The Studio@550 has entered a partnership with AdoEma Realty for 2,000 square feet near Inman Square.
But how the deal came together – with the help of Dan Marshall, who ran the Brookline/Greater Boston Community Center for the Arts from 2003 to 2005 – may have much bigger ramifications for Cambridge area arts. The shared space, at 1036 Cambridge St., Wellington-Harrington, launches Sunday with an open house and community meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday that he said will serve as the start of a collaborative effort to be smarter about existing local arts spaces, and then to add to them.
What dancers need to know now, though, is that the new space is available mainly in the evenings for rehearsals and classes for dance and movement artists – and “especially for those displaced by the Green Street closure,” according to a Friday email.
The agreement is for four years with an option to extend, said Callie Chapman, director of the studio and artistic director of Zoe Dance, and it will be in addition to the space Studio@550 holds at 550 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. “We’ll still go on, as long as we can,” Chapman said.
Making that easier is that AdoEma, which also gives 25 percent of its real estate commissions to charities chosen by clients, is donating the space.
Upon the company’s arrival in Cambridge, it leased a large space, intending to fill it with agents – then realized “real estate agents don’t work from an office anyway,” chief executive Suad Kantarevic said. When Marshall, a colleague of Chapman’s, was introduced to Kantarevic by a mutual friend and stopped in to talk, possibilities for a space occupied by around three agents instead of 20 jumped out immediately.
“It’s beautiful, with wood floors and high ceilings,” Marshall said. It’s former use: As the Hub Bicycle Co. shop, which closed in the spring of 2017 after seven years, when owner Emily Thibodeau said she was ready for “a new adventure.”
Kantarevic had been urging his agents to use the expansive office for community purposes anyway, and it was only weeks after that first meeting that Marshall heard Green Street was closing. He tried Green Street first to explore a use of the real estate office, Marshall said, and hearing nothing back, he talked with Chapman at 550 in mid-October. That clicked, leading to “a great marriage” of uses.
(One possible reason Green Street didn’t respond: Building owner Peter Givertzman told WBUR on Tuesday that was working on a solution with the City of Cambridge that could “find a home for Green Street Studios in the short and long term.”) The realty company ended its attempts to sublease its space, and Kantarevic instead decided to instead turn it over to the dancers. All they’ll have to do is push some office furniture aside when they arrive, he said.
“It is a huge space for a real estate office,” Kantarevic said.
The arrival of 2,000 square feet near Inman Square is “weird timing,” Chapman said, but it is also just in time. Not only was Green Street Studios closing, forced out by a tripling of its rent under its building’s new owner, but the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has recently closed some of its rehearsal space to dance. “It was coming at us from both sides,” Chapman said. “I had calls from people saying, ‘We need space!’ And I had none. From 6 to 11 p.m., my space is booked” pretty much solid.
“And there had already been a crunch” before Green Street, she said. “This isn’t going to fill all of the need, but it can sure be a cushion for people who have lost space.”