Instructor and curator Welthy Silva leads a class at the non-profit Las Vegas Ballet School in the Arts District, which could be forced to leave in the next few months.
It’s becoming a common story in and near downtown Las Vegas: A longtime establishment is in a building that has a new owner; that new owner wants to replace the longtime establishment with a new occupant.
Restaurants, auto-repair shops, hotels have all fallen victim to the property-owner’s axe recently. A ballet school could be next.
Welthy Silva runs the Las Vegas Ballet School on Main Street, in the Arts District, a half-block north of Charleston Boulevard. Although she has a lease, Silva says she’s been given little or no choice. The new owners, Las Vegas-based developers Four Main Properties, want her out.
“I’ve been given basically about two months,” she says. “By the end of January, I need to be out.”
Since she has more than a year left on her lease, she could fight the ejection, but Silva says the new owners have already told here that there will be ongoing construction all around, a process that could make teaching her young students impossible.
Silva has 25 to 30 students, most of them young people, but she also teaches a class for adults. Her ballet school is a small business. “I don’t make a profit, but it’s not a nonprofit,” she jokes. “I always pay my rent and that’s enough for me.”
She has tried, mostly without success, to enlist elected officials and community leaders in an effort to stay at her location, a clean and sparse open room with ballet bars on the walls.
“I don’t want to sit back and say, that’s business,” Silva says. “I don’t feel it should be that way. I see my students and families saying, ‘This isn’t right. We want an Arts District where there’s room for small mom-and-pop businesses.’”
And her customers agree. They like the ballet school where it is.
“I’m comfortable and happy here,” says Kelly Truax, a public school teacher who is busy grading papers while her daughter, Erin, dances in the studio next door. She notes that the location is, after all, the Arts District.
“Why are we pushing out artists?” she asks.
Travis Edwards, a landscaper with a Strip resort who lives nearby, has his 4-year-old daughter in dance class as well. He says he’s seen a lot of changes over just a few years in the neighborhood.
“It went from drugs and bums, kind of overnight, to yuppie,” he says. Edwards says there are some benefits to the changes, because the neighborhood is cleaner and safer. But he worries what the domination of bars and restaurants in the area will mean.
“The Arts District should be diverse,” Edwards says.
Brandon Wiegand, the broker for Four Main Properties, which owns the building, says he wants “to create a dynamic project that we hope will become a positive contribution to the Arts District.”
“No plans have been finalized but (they) will include a substantial rehabilitation of the building,” he says in a written statement. “The owner’s representatives have been working diligently with both of the current tenants in relocating with the area by offering financial support and assistance in searching for alternate acceptable space.”
Weigand says Four Main has an “amicable solution” with one tenant - presumably, not the ballet school - and the company is working with Silva. “If no mutually beneficial arrangement can be reached with that tenant, they will remain in the building and we will work to accommodate their needs during construction.” CL