“Dance Loft on 14 Develops New Performing Arts Facility With Net Zero Energy and Affordable Housing”

4618 14th Street, NW Rendering courtesy of Heleos

From a press release:

“Dance Loft on 14 has partnered with developer Heleos to build a new state-of-the-art home for the performing arts nonprofit within a mixed-use building that also boasts net zero energy targets and affordable housing. The 124,000 sq foot structure will secure a permanent home for Dance Loft in Ward 4, catalyze business on upper 14th street, and add sorely needed affordable housing to D.C. The Zoning Commission hearing to approve or deny the project will occur on May 5th.

Rendering courtesy of Heleos

“After experiencing just how empty our lives can feel without the arts during the pandemic, Dance Loft on 14 is more committed than ever to the belief that dance is a powerful means for cultural and social transformation,” said executive artistic director, Diana Movius. “This unique partnership will allow us to expand our programming, serve more community members and partners, attract more support for local businesses in our corridor, and contribute desperately needed affordable housing to the District. We hope everyone will join us on the journey to bring this new community asset to life.”

Currently, no state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing. The DC Mayor’s housing goal of adding 12,000 affordable units by 2021 has only been met by 2,028. Of the 99 residential units included in the new development approximately two thirds will be reserved for persons at 60% or less of the median family income and the remaining units will be leased at the market rate. Rock Creek East, where Dance Loft is located, currently has among the fewest affordable units in the city.

“Anyone who cares about making new affordable housing and preserving arts space needs to weigh in on this hearing,” said Heleos principal Chris VanArsdale. “This is a test case for whether or not affordable housing and DC’s arts space goals can succeed anywhere in the city. Hundreds of supporters from the DMV have sent support letters to the zoning commission and we hope they’ll value their voices and choose to support the livelihoods of artists, DC’s creative economy, and housing equity.”

With a goal to stay on its site and improve its facilities, Dance Loft on 14 initiated this novel partnership with not-for-profit developer Heleos when its building went up for sale. The new space dedicated to performing arts will encompass 19,000 sq ft of permanent studio space with two theaters and four dance studios, one of which will be a public facing studio visible from 14th street. This will increase arts access for individual artists, choreographers, professional theater and dance ensembles, neighborhood schools and community partners, and expand the bilingual dance programming available in DC. Dance Loft on 14 currently provides space to more than 2,500 artists per year, and attracts more than 5,000 audience members. Their classes, programs and affordable rehearsal space support new dance work, promote broad and diverse access to performing arts and arts education, and nurture homegrown local artists. The in-house professional ballet company employs 12 dancers. The improved arts center will be fully ADA compliant to enhance accessibility for artists with disabilities.

Their development partner, Heleos, is targeting zero energy performance through LEED-certified design. It incorporates on-site and off-site solar panels, a green roof, enhanced water reuse and stormwater management and focuses on bicycle and transit commuting. The exemplary design will be constructed of high quality materials and also includes 360 degree front facing facades to integrate aesthetically into the neighborhood. “We have pioneered a new model for preserving arts space and addressing critical housing and environmental issues,” said Movius and VanArsdale.

If the Zoning Commission approves the project, Dance Loft 14 will stay in its current space until groundbreaking in 2024. The new facility will open in 2025. Serving as the cultural anchor of the upper 14th street corridor, they’ll use their improved and expanded arts center to provide relevant and responsive arts programming to Ward 4 communities and beyond.

The acquisition of the site and the pre-development planning costs are supported by Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, CityFirst Enterprises, and other community partners.”

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