Looking for a Place to Call Home
I wanted to write to you and give you updates on what is been happening so far with the studio. Our journey has been going on for over a year now which has included:
– searching/viewing potential buildings
– finding out how much everything will cost
– finding out what we actually need (size, ceiling heights, location, equipment)
– finding/meeting the right people (Change of use, planners, solicitors, architect, builders, plumbers, floor specialists, mirror/Glass specialists, heating, electrics, sound proofing etc)
– finding out what grants (if any) that were available to us and filling out forms/creating pitches for panel members etc
– Meeting with local council members, boards, panels, Planning officers, building regulations
– and more
Since our journey began, we have gone through the process MANY times of finding a building, creating a vision/plan going to see it numerous times, getting an architect to draw up plans, finding out how much everything will cost, only to be either turned down or finding out that it will cost too much.
One building we actually submitted an application for change of use (£385) and got an architect to draw up plans (£1170) only to uncover further down the line that our budget would not be able to cover the entire cost.
I never quite understood before why people who get into property and building buildings, and renovating buildings say that it can be so tiring and draining. Now we really understand. I cannot count the number of hours that we spent discussing each building drawing up I am plans on paper, converting them into photoshop document, dozens of times going to see a building, going to speak with specialists, calling up to finding out how much things will cost, meeting with solicitors, discussions with architects and accountants… The number of hours spent visualising where everything would go, with everything fit that we wanted, how to make a certain size work for us. It is all very draining and so far unsuccessful.
All has not been lost. The journey has been a really big eye-opening one. We have met some amazing people built some great relationships, and we now have a good team around us pretty much ready to move forward. We also have a lot of the questionmarks filled so we know exactly what we want.
It is also been a very big learning experience for us. When you look at the commercial estate agent websites you see many many buildings that would be suitable for us. But when you call at the agents they will say “sorry they will not want the building use changed”. For those that don’t know, when you buy commercial building or lease commercial building, you have to have the right planning use that The building will be used for, for example: for dance and leisure we would need to use D2. When you are looking at a warehouse which is usually B1 or B2 use (light industrial, industrial) you have to apply with the council to get these changed and you also have to ask the owner if they want to use changed. On many occasions we got down the path taking many months to then end up in the answer being a “No!”
So… The latest update is we are at ground zero, but with the right mindset to make things happen. We know what we want which is a warehouse ideally 300 m², in a central location with parking (most likely the warehouse would be where the big Tesco’s is on Lottbridge Drive. 150sqm will get us one studio, which is great, and we would gladly take at the right location/price, however we are pretty much FULL with our current classes. 300 m² would allow us 2 studios so we can run more than one class at once. This vision may have to be phase 2 or 3 (phase 1 being 150m² with one studio and moving all our classes there).
Looking at the bigger picture, we would Ideally need to buy a warehouse rather than lease a warehouse, as we do not want to spend tens of thousands setting it up with gymnastic equipment/dance studios to then be told a couple of years down the line that we have to move it all out, which is common with leasing a property as they say you have to return the property to the owner as it was when we first leased it out. To buy warehouse/building of that size we will be looking at anything between £150,000 and £250,000. Anyone who understands the ins and outs of commercial buildings knows that we would need a 30% deposit to put down. This is no small number. If we took the middle number £200,000, the deposit required would be £60,000 with refurbishment costs on top. This is not impossible but this is where we are headed.
One of our big learning experiences is it is a marathon not a Sprint. I thought that within six months we have something up and running and I was sadly mistaken. We would rather be in the right building but for the whole thing to take longer, than be in the wrong building in a short amount of time. We now know what we’re aiming for and we are going to be doing fundraising events throughout the year and trying to raise money by other means in order to achieve a goal. We really believe that when we do achieve the goal it will be ultra awesome!
So. We need to raise approximately £80,000. We have got other personal projects planned and other street dance events/fundraising ideas planned to get there.
We still have the vision and dream going strong! With a building big enough for 2 studios we will be able to run regular Breakdance/house/gymnastics/fitness/any other type of class on a regular basis. We will have studio space to run regular events, dance parties, private classes, teacher training, a shop, coffee shop/cafe, practice space….If you imagined all of that you will know that when it is up and running it will be a place that we can all call home.
About the Author
Rob is the owner of Street Styles 4 All (SS4A), married to his wife Chloe. Follows Jesus (not on twitter), runs a Street Dance school. Rob also known as "Smoove Groove" runs the online courses at SS4A and is passionate Street Dance and about teaching Street Dance.