Swing Kat from Pottstown PA

Moving Swing Kat from Pottstown PA

Moving Swing Kat from Pottstown PA to Spring City is proving to be a knock down drag out fight.  However it is a fight we will endure to its end.  I had a  big meeting this week with the Spring City Borough Manager, their Engineer, their Codes Enforcer, their Lawyer, my Lawyer and my Architect.  As you can imagine, it is costly to bring a group like this together and Swing Kat is paying the bill.  Needless to say moving Swing Kat from Pottstown PA to Spring City is getting more expensive by the day.  At this meeting I learned that the cost for a yes or no answer on whether or not we can proceed with our plans is now going to cost between $10 & $15k.  I also learned about a number of more obstacles that are standing in our way.  This thousand dollar meeting has left me with more questions than I had before we had the meeting.  However, we are getting closer to the answers.

I know it has been awhile since my last update on moving Swing Kat from Pottstown PA.  The reason is that it took nearly a month to put together this meeting which finally happened yesterday.  As I said we now know about more obstacles that stand in our way.  Each one of these obstacles unfortunately has the power to stop our move of Swing Kat from Pottstown PA.   However for the first time I feel like we have clear direction on how to proceed from here.

Here are the obstacles that currently stand in our way…

1.  Because it has been 100 years since this building was last sold, the buildings zoning is listed as Un-Certified.  What we were told this could mean is that even the slightest change in Use could cause us to have to comply with much greater code issue such as elevators & sprinkler systems.

2.  Spring City has an unofficial moratorium on EDU’s right now from the Department of Environmental  Protection.  This is due to their sewer system needing to be upgraded.  They have begun this process however it will not be complete for a few years which doesn’t help us.  If the DEP requires us to have more than 1 EDU for our building it will end our ability to move forward.

3.  Because we will need parking and have plans to put in a parking lot, we need to find out if the Planning Commission will require us to submit formal plans or not.  If they do require this, the cost of preparing these plans, fees related to the process and time this process takes will all end this process for us.  The only way around this would be for us not to put in a parking lot.  However that would hurt us in our bid to get over the final obstacle.

4.  Lastly, we need to get through a variance hearing as even with our new parking lot, we won’t have the required amount of parking.  We will have roughly half the parking required by the codes book.  This is no small matter and will be a tough road.  There are more issues than just the number of parking spots.  There is also the fact we can’t provide a driveway wide enough to meet the code.  As well as the fact we can’t afford to pave the lot which is also required along with other issues.

At this point we have spent over $4,000 of the $5,077  we raised for our move this past summer.  So, I am now starting to pull money out of my own pockets, the money we were going to use to take care of the codes issues and parking lot once the borough gave us the go ahead.  So, we need to continue raising money through 50/50’s, tea shirt sales and whatever else we can think of.

Here is one more important note.  Spring City is in favor of us moving Swing Kat from Pottstown PA into their borough.  I have received nothing but kindness and well wishing from the community, the borough employees and borough council.  Many have asked how they can help and others have already helped.  Hopefully the obstacles don’t stop us.

I will continue to follow this lead to it’s end (rule #2 in partner dancing) and see where it goes.

Mechanics Hall 123 Hall St Spring City PA 19475

Mechanics Hall 123 Hall St Spring City PA 19475

Mechanics Hall 123 Hall St Spring City PA 19475 currently the home of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon is to become our new home!  This is where Swing Kat Entertainment will reside around the new year.  After months of waiting, 2 weeks ago we finally signed the paper work.  This is closer than we have ever gotten to securing a place that can be our permanent home.  At this point the only things that can stop us from realizing this dream are a parking variance hearing & the cost of code improvements that will have to be made.  Both of these issues could stop us however I believe we should get past both and realize our dream!

In the process of securing Mechanics Hall 123 Hall St Spring City PA 19475 I have learned that the cost of just simply getting the answers as to whether or not we will even be allowed to consider purchasing/moving to Mechanics Hall is going to be more costly than first imagined.  It looks like we are now looking at $8-$10K just to find out if we will be allowed to proceed as planned.  This is an awful price to pay, but to hold our dance community together I am moving forward.  There is no other option that will work for our complete calendar of events.  If we were just doing swing dances and classes, I would be able to find a place to make that happen.  However we do swing, ballroom, salsa, milonga, and more.  We need a place we can have all month long.  More importantly, we need a place that is affordable & sized correctly for the small crowds we normally get each night.  Mechanics Hall will hold roughly 125 people for swing dancing on it’s main ballroom floor.  The Ballroom On High would hold 25o.  With our highest average for DJ dance nights being around 55 for swing/ballroom dances and 85 for our monthly salsa dance, there is no need for a building the size of the Ballroom On High.

Be looking for more information on our future move to Mechanics Hall 123 Hall St Spring City PA 19475.  I will have information at our dance events starting this weekend.  However for now you can take a look at pictures of Mechanics Hall by following this link… Click Here!

Return to the Ballroom On High

The Ballroom On High makes a come back!

The Ballroom On High LLC (the business) closed on December 31st 2013.  However the place we called the Ballroom On High (310 E. High St.) still exists.  After a moving process that started in April of 2013 & after a 6 month absence, we will be returning to the Ballroom On High on July 16th 2014.  I know this must seem crazy, but here is what you need to know…

When we were given notice to leave the Sunnybrook Ballroom we were given 6 months to do so.  This was a very kind gesture to us from the Sunnybrook Foundation.  This 6 month notice ends near the end of September.  As you know we are trying to buy a building in Spring City.  However we will not be able to enter this building until about the new year.  This would leave us stranded for 3 months.  So, we can’t move from Sunnybrook to Spring City which means more work for yours truly lol!  So, with very few options I hunted for a place for us to do our dance classes and live bands.  I couldn’t come up with a place to do our classes after a few months of trying.  So, I only had one option and that was to rent a place for more than just our classes.  Knowing this and knowing that our old landlord had been having some troubles of his own in finding something to work at the Ballroom On High, I gave him a call.  After some respectful counter offers, we agreed to help each other out of a tight spot.

Our move back to the Ballroom On High is indeed temporary.  At anytime the owner of the Ballroom On High could ask us to leave.  If that happens before the new year we could have a few months without a place to dance.  Though possible, this is unlikely.  Our next move should be our last.  But for now, the Ballroom On High makes a come back!  I for one will love to see the old girl again 🙂

Spring City Dance Community to become a Reality?

Spring City Dance Community

As we take each step forward in the process of trying to find our new home, a Spring City dance community is looking more and more like a reality!  Since my last update everything has been moving very slowly.  Mainly we have been waiting on important information from codes officials.  However after our long wait for answers we are no more sure of where we stand in regards to code issues than we were a few weeks ago.  Will there be a Spring City dance community?  It is a good question.

Here is what we do know.  We are now one step closer to a Spring City dance community being a reality.  In the past few days we and the sellers have reached agreement on the price and terms of the sale.  Furthermore financing has also been arranged and is no longer a hurdle!  With that said, though financing has been arranged, we still have to come up with the moneys needed to close the deal. On top of this we will need the money to deal with the code issues that will arise.  Now, this is where things get a bit hazy.  Like I said earlier, we have not been able to get answers on what code issues we are facing here.  If the building is zoned A-3 (which we can’t even get an answer on) our code issues will be few requiring $25,000 or less to close and get into this property.  However if this building is not A-3 or if they will not grandfather it as such, the costs could be $50,000 or more.

In either case here is where we stand.  By this weekend it is likely that our deal with the sellers will be signed and in writing.  This is a great step forward!  Our next step has to be applying for a parking variance hearing, submitting architectural drawings and paying for the review of those drawings.  We will also need to hire a lawyer for the variance hearing. In the end we are probably looking at $5,000. just to get an answer as to whether or not the building is A-3, will be grandfathered in as A-3, if they will allow A-3 at all or what they will require of us to get it there.

As I have shown over the past 8 years, I am dedicated to our Pottstown dance community not just surviving, but thriving.  This past year has been very hard me as we have faced disappointments and trials I never could have imagined.  However, I am dedicated to see this through.  It just so happens that $5,077. is what we have left from the moneys we raised last summer for our moving process.  I will use this money to get our answers now since this is what is required.  Hopefully at the end a Spring City dance community will be our reality!

Dance Spring City PA? Maybe Just Maybe!

dance spring city pa

Dance Spring City PA?!?!  What is this about dancing in Spring City?  Where is Spring City?  These are all good questions.

Dance Spring City Pa

Well, as I have been saying we have set our sights on a building just south of Pottstown PA.  If you go to the intersection of rt100 & rt724 and head towards Phoenixville you will be in Spring City in just 10 short minutes.  Spring City is where we would like to make our new home out of an old building.  As the picture suggests, we are hoping to make our home in Spring City PA!

This Wednesday, we met an architect at the building.  He looked through the building and talked with us some.  Again, right now the biggest hurdle we are facing is a variance hearing to change what is required of us in regards to parking.  This hurdle is sizable and is big enough to throw a wrench in the monkey works.  However, we learned more this Wednesday with the architect.  For people to dance Spring City PA, we learned that the Use of this building has to currently be Assembly.  If it is, this parking issue will likely be our biggest issue.  However, if the current Use of the building is not Assembly with the state of Pennsylvania we will be in for more than we can handle.  A change of Use would cause us to have to do many things to this building that we simply cannot do.  The good news is that though we do not yet have an answer as to what this buildings Use has been for the past 100 plus years, it is likely Assembly.  On top of this bit of good news is that if it is not categorized as Assembly, it is likely that we can make an argument to prove that Assembly is indeed what it was used for over these many years.

I should have an answer by next Tuesday on what the current Use of this building is.  Pray for Assembly 🙂  Here is hoping that next week I give you good news on the Use of this building.  So, dance Spring City PA?  I want to dance Spring City PA, do you?!  Stay tuned!

 

Full Swing Ahead!

Yes! It is Full Swing Ahead or maybe Fool Steam Ahead lol… There are many things happening all around Swing Kat right now.  I just learned yesterday that our old Ballroom On High will not be sold to Jamey’s House of Music as was our old landlord’s plan.  He called me and asked if we might be interested in returning.  At this point I am not sure if we can or if that is even a good idea.  But I will remain open to all ideas to make sure dancing has  a future in our region.

This past Saturday I received word from the Codes Official concerning the property we are looking to purchase.  The word was that we were denied the USE we were seeking on the building.  We were denied based on the fact that the building currently has NO parking and by code would require 80 parking spots.  Interestingly enough, this property has been used for Entertainment/Recreation for the past 150 years.  We are not seeking to change the USE of the building, we are looking to use it the same way it has been used since it was built.  However, when it comes to the issue of parking our USE has not been grandfathered in.  This may seem like a big problem however we were expecting to have this problem before applying for the permitted USE.  So now we steam ahead.

So, the next step for us is to have a variance hearing on this matter of parking so that we may get past it and have the USE this building was truly built for.  Now code requires 80 parking spots.  I have measured out the property and have found that we can put in 22 to 30 spots behind the building.  Though the street has plentiful parking within a block of this location, we must have 80 spots off-street according to code.  Now at a hearing we may be able to get permitted USE by just simply providing 22-30 spots on our property because that is what a variance hearing is all about.  It is about not meeting the requirements but making an argument as to why you should be allowed to have your desired USE.  However, we may have another ace in the hole.  There is a church very close by that may be willing to give us use of their parking lots of over 60 spaces.  So, this parking variance hearing is feeling pretty good to me.  It is full swing ahead if this is our biggest hurdle!  However, there could be more issues.

Monday we hired on an architect to walk through the building and study the code for us.  He should see the building the middle of this coming week.  He will then be able to tell us what other hurdles may be in our path.  If you remember last summer, the building we were looking at in Pottstown 2 blocks from our old location got to this same point.  I called on an architect and learnt that we would need a $100T sprinkler system.  Unfortunately that could also be a possibility here though it would cost much less in this building.  However other possibilities loom such as Handicap access & baths, the addition of more baths for crowd size and then the possibility of the street sewer hook-up not being sufficient to handle these extra baths.  I know this sounds like a lot, it is but don’t lose hope! If the hurdles are something we can overcome, we will continue not fool steam ahead but FULL SWING AHEAD!

Stay Tuned for more!

A New Home South Of Pottstown

It is looking more possible by the day that we will have a new home south of Pottstown this coming fall.  I have been hard at work fingering out the particulars.  Yesterday I put in a zoning application to see if the borough in question will allow us to use the building in the way we are asking.  This should not be too much of an issue and we should get that permission.  If not a variance hearing would likely get us the permission we are seeking.  There is some land with the building and we are hoping that we will be given permission to put in a parking lot.  This should be allowable since the property already has a right-of-way and a sidewalk apron.  However I met with some contractors today and the cost of such an operation gets expensive.  We are looking at roughly $10T to $15T to put in a stone parking lot.  Due to the cost we may have to move to the location and put in the parking lot after a number of months.

The most exciting news is that we could be making an offer on this building by the end of this week.  I have been told that I will have an answer on the zoning permit by the end of the week.  If the answer coming early enough & the answer is favorable, we will make an offer before the week is out!  Once our offer has been accepted, I will be putting out information here on our blog concerning our new home just south of Pottstown!

Stay Tuned!

The Gypsy Dancers of Pottstown PA

Yes those crazy Kat’s “Gypsy Dancers” from Pottstown Pa are moving again!  We are not talking about gypsy jazz music here, we are talking about a group of people nomadically moving from place to place.

Hey everyone, if you are on our email list you got an email earlier this week informing you that we will need to be moving our dance classes & events from the Sunnybrook Ballroom.  We very quickly moved into Sunnybrook in the last 2 weeks of 2013 as we had issues with another venue not holding to the terms of it’s contract with us.  So the folks at Sunnybrook took us on and agreed to give it a go for a number of months.  If they found things to be working out they then would have sign contracts with us and our various partners putting on Ballroom and Salsa dances as well as lessons.  However with such short notice all of the particulars could not have been worked out at that time.  Since then Sunnybrook has found that particulars (mainly Math) are not working out for them and they have given us generous notice to move our operations elsewhere.  I am thankful for the opportunity they gave us as we would have had no where to go on Jan 1st without them.

So, here we are again.  It is time to find a new home.  As most of our programming that has survived the move from the Ballroom On High is now at the Sunnybrook Ballroom, we at this time will need to find a new home. Fortunately we have been working with a good bunch of guys over at the North End Fire Company who have been willing to work with us and our needs.  However, they can only do so much for us and another situation is likely needed for what will not work there at their nice facility.  Luckily I have tracked down another option.  Last summer I was looking at a building that would have worked beautifully for most of our programming (minus Live Band Swing & Star’s big monthly salsa dance party).  It was my first choice in venue however it was under contract to be sold.  The good news for us is that it didn’t sell!

As we have been looking into this property we have found that there are many possible hurdles to be crossed in order to make this dream a reality.  However one at a time these hurdles seem to be coming down.  Keep in mind that moving into this building is a long shot at this point.  However we are doing all we can to make this work.

Things are happening very quickly at this point!  Way quicker than I was anticipating!  I saw the inside of the building for the first time on Friday April 11th (just over a week ago) and then took most of our partners (Ballroom & Salsa Instructors) through the building Saturday April 19th.  I have been working with Colleen(one of our Ballroom/Swing dancers) who is a realtor, and my bank to see what the hurdles are and what we can do about them.  Though finances have not been the best for me over my years running Swing Kat, the fact that this building is priced in an affordable manner is helping us greatly.  My bank has not given me it’s word on a loan yet, but I did receive a call today saying that though it is a close call financially speaking they will likely be able to work something out for us!!! WOO HOO!  They told me that the ball is now in my court and that I will need to make an offer on the building before they can proceed any further.

Now last summer we raised over $64,000.  in pledges to try and buy a building in Pottstown that fell through due to needing a $100,000. sprinkler system.  So, we never collected that money.  However, we did do 50/50’s, Star did a Zumbaton, Dibbs & the Detonators gave us a free show & a few people paid on their pledges anyway.  All total we raised nearly $6,000.  Of that amount $5,077. remains unused in our moving processes so far.  If we are to purchase this building, more money will have to be raised.  However, unless there is some big unforeseen issue that money we will need to raise should be much, much lower in amount.  I will be trying to figure out what we will be needing in the next few weeks as well as how to raise the needed amount.  I really don’t want to ask for pledges as I did last summer, so I am going to try to avoid this at all costs.  However there are other ways of raising funding.  I am currently checking into T-shirt sales, doing 50/50’s again, selling my beloved 1938 collector car and offering private dance lessons on a regular basis to raise the money.

Bookmark this Blog page to stay informed on our moving process!

Thank you for your time 🙂

Faryl

Schedule Change for Dance Classes near Allentown PA

The best laid plans of mice and men often come across road blocks that demand a detour.  That is the case for our swing dance classes near Allentown PA scheduled to start in mid-May.  As it turns out, I have found out that there is a group 20 minutes from our Allentown area location (Emmaus PA) meeting in Fountain Hill PA which is also doing vintage swing dance related events.  I first heard of their operation about 3 weeks ago now.  However I had trouble finding information on their dance classes near allentown pa and figured that it was just a ballroom dance studio giving some vintage swing lessons.  So I was not very concerned about moving forward and planned to stay the course.  However, last weekend I found out that was not the case.  The couple putting on these events are vintage swing dancers all the way!  Since our classes were scheduled for Thursday nights & their events have been happening on Thursday night for the past 2 years, I have decided to change our dance classes near allentown pa to another night.  It is the right thing to do.

The world of vintage swing dancing is very small compared to the world of ballroom dancing.  Those of us who work hard to give the rest of you places to enjoy such activities need to work together.  For this reason and the fact that having both Swing Kat and this group in the Allentown area only makes vintage swing stronger in that region, we will be switching our night.

I have spoken with Lynn Kettenburg of Victory Fitness & Dance as well as our instructor Michael Clemmer and we were able to come up with a night that works.  So, now with a month and a half to go until the big show our classes have been moved to Monday evenings.  I hope you can make it if you are from the Allentown area!  Classes start on May 12th 2014!

Swing Dance Studio coming to Allentown PA

Swing Dance Studio Emmaus PA

Plans have been underway since the end of 2013 to have satellite swing dance studio locations throughout the greater Philadelphia area.  This has long been an idea floating in the back of my head, however it took extreme circumstances to bring about this awesome new direction for Swing Kat! After much planning and work, I am very happy to announce our first satellite dance studio location just south of Allentown Pa.  Our swing dance studio home for the Allentown region will be located in Emmaus PA where miss Lynn Kettenburg runs Victory Fitness & Dance Center Inc.  Lynn has been a long time partner with Swing Kat in the area of ballroom dancing.  However Lynn also teaches children’s Tap, Jazz and Ballet classes.  Lynn is an incredible dance instructor and a truly delightful person to work with. Lynn currently teaches the ballroom styles of dance in partnership with Swing Kat at the Sunnybrook Ballroom.  She has now opened her doors to us to come use her dance studio for vintage swing dance classes on Thursday evenings!  I know many great dance professionals in the Allentown area, but I can’t think of a better person to partner with in this region.

You may ask, “Who will be teaching these dance lessons?”.  It is a fair question.  Obviously with 7 total locations planned to open in the next calendar year I can’t be the instructor at every studio.  However I have been in talks with some of the greatest dancers/instructors from around the Philly region!  One of these instructors is our very own home grown dancer Michael Clemmer!  Michael’s bio can now be found on our instructors page.  Michael knows how to keep things fun while giving valuable insight to his students.  Anyone who lives in the Allentown area is in for a real treat having Michael as their instructor.

Our Allentown area classes start on May 15th 2014!  The first 5 week series is one that most people reading this blog don’t need to take, however Introduction To Swing Part #2 starting on Thursday June 19th in Emmaus would be great for even experienced swing dancers.  Take a look at what we will be offering on our dance syllabus page and get excited about dance lessons in Allentown!