Allegro Ballroom recently held a fundraiser to help complete construction of a new facility in El Cerrito. Allegro may be forced to leave its Emeryville location on Christie Avenue that they’ve called home for 17 years. “We have been warned about this for years,” they noted in a recent communication.
Their September/October newsletter described the scenario they’ve been thrust into and a plea to their supporters to pitch-in to help them complete construction of a new home. “At some uncertain point in the near future, we will be forced to move from our Emeryville location due to an expired lease, extreme rent increases, and the property owner’s plans to demolish the entire building complex.”
Vancouver-based Onni Group recently entered into a two-year escrow agreement for the 3.75-acre site just north of the 76 gas station and Denny’s.
The “BRE Gateway” site as it’s referred to, is an aging, auto-centric development and one within the core of the city targeted for increased building height & density. Onni has a sizable portfolio that includes residential, commercial, and retail projects across Canada and the U.S..
Onni is proposing to retain the existing “Wells Fargo” office building but would demolish the adjacent single-story building that is currently home to Allegro and Emery Bay Cafe.
Onni is seeking entitlements to replace this building and part of the surface parking lot with a 54-story, 638 unit residential high-rise with 258,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. The project would also include a half-acre of park space as required by the City’s General Plan.
The demolition is of course a long ways from approval and will involve several study sessions and public hearings that could drag on for years. An initial study session is tentatively scheduled for the December 13th Planning Commission meeting.
Allegro was founded in 1994 and is owned and operated as a non-profit, membership operated, public benefit and educational corporation. Allegro instructors teach a broad and diverse set of dancing disciplines including ballroom, salsa, tango, swing, bachata and kizomba.
Allegro have been community partners throughout the years and have raised and donated more than half a million dollars for domestic and international causes according to their website. In the past, they’ve offered a youth dance scholarship and hosted events for seniors and local residents in the community.
While it would be a big cultural loss for Emeryville, Allegro has been anticipating this and devising their “Plan B” for survival through persistent fundraising efforts. Lydia Wong, who has been with Allegro “from day one”, wasn’t ready to throw the towel in quite yet and noted this wasn’t the first time they’ve been warned of an eminent eviction. “We’ve been hearing about getting kicked out for as long as we’ve been here.”
Construction on their new ballroom location is well underway, but they are still far short of their targeted goal and are reaching out to their community for additional support. “We are thankful for all who have contributed to these efforts. Now, we are asking one more time for you to contribute to keep our ballroom open and running for many years to come.”