Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nonprofit arts center to open retail store in Silver Plaza

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A Silver Spring arts center will open a retail shop next month in Silver Plaza, filing a vacant storefront on Ellsworth Drive and bringing a fine arts presence to downtown Silver Spring.

Pyramid Atlantic has entered into an agreement with The Peterson Cos., which manages the retail area of downtown Silver Spring, to occupy a 4,500-square-foot storefront at 924 Ellsworth Drive, the former site of the Bombay Co. furniture and gift store, which went out of business earlier this year, according to officials from Pyramid Atlantic and Peterson Management.

Under the agreement, Pyramid Atlantic will occupy the space on a month-to-month basis until a permanent tenant is found.

Jose Dominguez, director of Pyramid Atlantic, 8230 Georgia Ave., said the agreement would allow the art center to expand its presence northward to the retail shops in the redeveloped downtown area and generate revenue to support its programs.

‘‘We’re grateful for the opportunity because it allows us to extend our brand to downtown Silver Spring,” he said.

Pyramid Atlantic: A Community Arts Store will open noon July 11 and will sell artists’ prints and artist books from the nonprofit Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, which specializes in contemporary papermaking, printmaking, digital arts and artist books.

Local artists also will sell paintings, ceramics and jewelry on consignment. Dominguez said he has about 12 artists committed to sell their work and will consider others.

Jennifer Nettles, Downtown Silver Spring manager for Peterson Management, said she approached Dominguez about a month ago and asked if he was interested in opening a shop in the vacant storefront.

She said Peterson, which has rented the space to other groups — Silverdocs used it during last week’s documentary festival — was interested in filling the storefront with a local business and wanted to connect with an arts group.

The move helps address criticism that the downtown area is dominated by national chain franchises, she said.

‘‘We absolutely love the Arts and Entertainment District and wanted to bring that element to [Silver Plaza],” Nettles said. ‘‘We have a relationship with Jose and it seemed like a natural fit.”

Pyramid Atlantic will occupy the space for 30 days, paying a percentage of sales to Peterson, then remain open on a month-to-month basis until a permanent tenant leases the space. Nettles said details of the agreement, including the percentage payment, were confidential.

If Pyramid Atlantic were unable to meet the percentage requested by Peterson, there would be no penalty, Nettles said.

The space is booked in September to another group, Nettles added, noting that Pyramid Atlantic could return in October after that agreement expires.

‘‘All we have to do is gain by reaching other people and making downtown Silver Spring more diverse and vibrant,” Dominguez said.

Sales above the percentage due to Peterson would go back to Pyramid Atlantic to support community activities, exhibits, artists-in-residence and other programs, Dominguez said.

‘‘This will allow us to expand and hopefully tap another revenue stream,” he said. ‘‘It’s good for us and good for them. ... Local business adds the flavor and the character.”

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