with Liberty Avenue Land Acquisition
(Pittsburgh, PA) – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announces that it closed today on a land acquisition that will increase the total footprint of PBT’s Strip District campus to more than 60,000 square feet, launching a third phase in the PBT School Expansion Plan.
Located at 2930 Liberty Avenue adjacent to the PBT Studios, PBT purchased the 10,800 square-foot property as part of a four-phase strategic plan to support growing enrollment in PBT School’s Children’s, Student, Pre-Professional and Adult Open Divisions and attendance at patron and community engagement events hosted at the PBT Studios.
As part of the total $10.7 million school expansion campaign, the land purchase follows the 2009 acquisition of the Byham House, a historic Lawrenceville building renovated as PBT School’s first student residence, and the 2011 expansion of the PBT Studios reception area. The land purchase kicks off Phase III of the campaign with the long-term goal of expanding the campus’ parking capacity and studio space. PBT’s Board of Trustees approved the $850,000 purchase price at its July 10, meeting.
“Expanding our physical footprint has been recognized by the board as a strategic objective to grow our reach and impact in the community,” said James E. Crockard III, chairman of the PBT Board of Trustees. “By investing in the growth of our campus, we’re ensuring the best possible resources for school families and students while increasing our capacity to serve a broader community.”
PBT Trustee and Facilities Chairman Mark Popovich agreed, noting, “With this purchase, the PBT campus is no longer landlocked, which was essential to laying the infrastructure for continued expansion.”
The land acquisition is planned to increase campus parking capacity with 44 new spaces and improve traffic flow for parking and student drop-offs. The new lot also will address a safety initiative by reducing the need for families and students to cross Liberty Avenue from the studios’ overflow parking lot.
It also lays the foundation for the final phase of the expansion plan: the future construction of an annex building with three new studio spaces. In the past five years, PBT School has increased Children’s Division enrollment by 92 percent while Student Division enrollment has grown by 53 percent in the past two years. Overall, the new facility would allow PBT School to increase enrollment by nearly 60 percent from 832 to more than 1,300 students.
Neighbors in the Strip Executive Director Becky Rodgers applauds the move. “We see the growth of the PBT campus as an accomplishment for the overall economic vitality of our neighborhood by drawing more students, families and artists to the Strip District,” Rogers said. “As a unique cultural anchor, PBT has contributed to the diversity and character of the neighborhood for more than 25 years.”
PBT launched its four-phase School Expansion Plan in 2009 with the opening of the Byham House, which houses 20 full-time Pre-Professional Division students and helps to draw aspiring young dancers to Pittsburgh each year. Also accomplished in Phase I was the installation of new Harlequin floors in the PBT Studios as a commitment to the safety and health of PBT company and student dancers. Phase II marked the opening of a renovated lobby with expanded parent and sibling waiting areas and student study space. With more than 1,000 unique visitors each week, the spacious lobby now better accommodates rising enrollment and the need for more public space in the building.
“PBT positioned itself for this expansion by reducing debt and achieving consecutive operating surpluses for the past six years,” said PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris. “As the official training institution of PBT, the School plays an integral role in helping the company flourish artistically and in our strategic vision for the organization’s growth.”
In addition to PBT School’s total enrollment of more than 800 students, the PBT facility houses five fully-equipped studios for PBT’s company of 27 professional dancers and administrative offices for staff members. Each week, PBT School offers classes six days a week for the Pre-Professional, Student, Children’s and Adult Open Divisions. Throughout the season, PBT also hosts a number of community engagement events at the Studio for patrons, educators, community organizations and supporters.