As many of you know, we are in the middle of building our dream dance and performing arts studio…which has turned into a Covid induced financial nightmare. 😩 This is our story.
In January 2020, I found a cute little space to build our dance studio around the corner from my house. It all seemed perfect – well within my budget with the potential to grow exponentially.
It was a “new build” which basically means only the SHELL of the building was built and all the insides like the plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, heating, flooring, walls, sheetrock, restroom fixtures, lights etc were all up to us! It was going to be a BIG expense.
I was working with their real estate agency who was handling all the potential tenants. I was told that the building was ready, we could start building out our part immediately and that the studio would be finished in time for our Summer classes to start in June.
Then COVID hit the city in March and the city of San Antonio was on a mandatory lockdown. My 5 elementary kids were now home with me and we suddenly had no income coming in.
Our Janitiorial business shut down completely, my husband (who is a nurse ironically) couldn’t get a job because of a hiring freeze. Luckily we had a stockroom full of toilet paper, disinfectant and hand sanitizer, so we sold as much as we could to friends and family. That was our only source of income until May, and it wasn’t much.
The kicker is that we had just invested our life savings into a fixer upper house so we had zero cash available. It was supposed to be a quick fix, but we ended up having to fix the foundation and lift the house TWICE and too many other complications to name! We still haven’t finished and it’s been more than a year now! So we can’t even rent it out to recoup that loss yet. We were living off of food storage and the free breakfast and lunch the school district was offering. (Very humbling!!!)
By June, the agent I had been working with had been pressing me for months to commit to a lease for the space for my dance studio. There were apparently others interested and if I didn’t sign, I would lose it.
So amidst all the uncertainty and fear, we took out a loan, hired a contractor, signed the lease and paid the $11,500 deposit. We started marketing for a September Grand Opening. It was summertime, so Covid cases started to decrease. It seemed like the fog was finally lifting!
Suddenly the agent I had been working with quit and was replaced by someone else who informed me that the space was not ready to be handed over. (I had already taken out a loan).
It appeared ready to my amateur eyes, but according to their permits, CPS needed to install 2 electrical poles and a transformer, the curbing needed to be done and the electricity still hadn’t been brought to the building (among other things). And all that had been delayed because of the mandatory shutdown caused by Covid.
Every week I was told “soon”, and this dragged on for months. We delayed the opeing of the studio in hopes we would be able to get open by at least October, but that date would come and go as well.
We had a few tender mercies that helped relieve our stress. The landlord of the private school next door offered to let us use their space in October when all the classes were supposed to start. But it came with some stipulations – we couldn’t start until after 6:30 pm each night after their school children had been picked up for the day. In order to make that work with the extremely limited time and space, we had to combine classes (we have 4 year olds in the same class as 14 year olds) ughhh!!! And some of the classes would continue to practice in my home studio.
It wasn’t ideal, but most the parents were understanding and at least we had a plan.
We were finally able to start construction at the end of November. YAY! But that quickly turned into another financial mess. The city wouldn’t accept our original plans, had to pay out an additional $5000 to have new plans drawn up. And many other unexpected extra costs.
But the biggest headache is realizing now that the lines are very blurry with what is to be OUR responsibility in the build out and what is considered part of the “SHELL” – the owner’s responsibility.
For example, there is still a 40′ long x 4′ wide x 2′ deep trench running down the back of our space. Apparently that is our responsibility to fill up – even though it is technically a part of the Shell??? A $7000 added expense. And that’s only one of several very expensive scenarios we have to fix before we can finish up.
After much arguing and back and forth with the owners – which have only caused delays, I’m just ready to pay what I need to pay to get it done! We are supposed to be in our new studio by March 1st, or I will be paying double the rent as well – so I can’t afford to slow down even one day at this point and I just want it to be over!
I’m praying for patience and relief and help in anyway we can get it. If you are able to contribute, we will be putting up a “Wall of Honor” in the new studio highlighting all those that helped bring our studio to life. This would include you!
There are 3 ways to help:
- Through our Popcorn Fundraiser, we keep 50% of the proceeds and you get to enjoy THE BEST popcorn on the planet! It’s shipped directly to you, so there is no hassle. Here is the link: https://popup.doublegood.com/s/fwbq4870
- Donating directly through the studio here: https://tinyurl.com/y4aakfho
- Or if it’s easier, you can Venmo me directly @karen-heaton-2 (2763 is code if it asks)
From the bottom of our hearts – THANK YOU!
~Karen Heaton Owner/Director