It was Holly Smith’s dream to open her own dance studio. And even though she got the notice to vacate , she thinks it ended up being good in a way. She never would’ve got to open her own studio if it wasn’t for the former Crestwood Mall.
Now To the Pointe Studio of Dance is operating on an interim basis at the , but is in the process of getting a permit to operate at 9296 Watson Industrial Court. Smith hopes to be up and running by April 2 unless there are any snags at the March 27 meeting. The Planning and Zoning Commission OK’d the approval of a conditional use permit last week.
Smith has been a dance instructor for more than 15 years. She has taken classes with some of the biggest choreography names in the business such as Wade Robson, Chris Judd and Mia Michaels. She now teaches tap, ballet, jazz and pointe to 1 ½ year olds through adults.
“I’ve always liked dance and the owner of the dance studio (where she was a student) said ‘Why don’t you teach,’” Smith said. “It just kinda progressed from there. I started assisting and teaching classes and choreography.”
Since opening in Crestwood Court about 3 years ago, Smith knew it wasn’t going to be permanent when she signed the lease. The owners said then that it would only be 18 months to 2 years.
“We were going on our third year. We and the other tenants at ArtSpace would have meetings and talk about things—we heard rumblings coming around and knew that it would be the end of February and that’s what it ended up being,” she said.
One change that will happen from the old location to the new is the space factor. The new space is larger. Smith is planning on one studio being the size of a stage, which will be great for older students. She also hopes that adult classes will expand. Two studios hold classes simultaneously, with class times staggered about 15 minutes apart.
One of the main concerns of the P&Z Commission was parking, but with 16 total spaces in the submittal to the commission, Smith more than satisfies the city’s requirements, according to Director of Public Services Jim Eckrich. Hours would be 4-10 Monday-Thursday and Saturday 9-3. With evening classes, Smith said parking in that area shouldn’t be an issue.
“I have quite a few (students) that are siblings now with my older classes. Most parents don’t stay; they drop them off and leave,” Smith said. “I have a call in with St. Louis County for the occupancy inspection hopefully the day after the permit goes through (at the March 27 meeting).”
Smith’s No. 1 must-have in looking for a new space was staying in the Crestwood area. Many of her roughly 50 students are from the area. In fact, two members of the P&Z Commission recognized Smith for working so hard to stay in the city.
“There aren’t a lot of dance studios here, so I thought it would be a good market and I wanted to stay somewhere affordable,” Smith said. “We did a lot of searching. The owner (at Watson Industrial) has been fantastic and it came together finally. We were trying hard and I chose this area for a reason. I was looking for something to stay in this area and I was glad to find a spot. “