For my inaugural blog post, I'd intended to write something both insightful and witty that would shed some light on the dense fog and ubiquitous grey areas that make up much of real estate and construction law. I became distracted, however, when one of my arts clients - a pro bono hobby I pursue in my spare time - explained to me a rock and a hard place they've recently found themselves between. Below is the short version of the struggles they have encountered in moving Crescendo Artistic Environment School - a school dedicated to providing a general education to children through arts education - from their residential location to a new commercial location. (If you would like to help, contact information is provided at the end.)
Crescendo Artistic Environment School just opened its doors to its large facilities in Edmonds last month, but just as quickly may see them slam shut forever- leaving 20 children without Preschool and After-School Care.
Crescendo began in 1997 out of a small house in Greenwood, with a mission statement of bringing arts and music to preschool age children. Its founder, Fanovitch Sebasstian, was a former Bolshoi & Kirov Ballerina as well as freelance music ethnocologist, living among tribes in Burkino Fasso to study master drum building. She brings this expansive artistic and cultural knowledge to the Crescendo curriculum and to all the children she teaches. Her success stories are many, using music, dance and her instinctive ability with children to turn around kids that other preschools and programs had deemed “out of control” or “unteachable.”
Crescendo has operated out of larger houses and homes for its nearly 10 years, outgrowing each location shortly after opening. Last year Fanovitch decided to upgrade her facilities and expand into a commercial location. After careful location scouting, she found the perfect building right on the edge of SHoreline & Edmonds, centrally located and next I-5 & HWY 99.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better location,” says Fanovitch.
But shortly after the ink had dried on the lease agreement the troubles began. What looked like an excellent building- a building that passed multiple pre-inspections, was actually a money hungry leviathan.
When Fanovitch brought her site maps to the City Of Edmonds to obtain her business license, back in June of this year, the floodgates opened. Edmonds Planners told her that doors needed to be relocated for fire codes, bathrooms needed to be remodeled for disability compliance, exterior doors replaced, parking lots repainted and on and on. How could this be? The property management agent had told her the building was completely code compliant and ready to go. The lease agreement said the building was code compliant. How...could...this...be.
It seems that in Edmonds and many other Cities a “Change Of Use” in a building, in this case from an office to a school, automatically triggers a building review. At this time everything that was out of building code that had been “grandfathered” for years, has to be brought up to code.
The Sebasstians were in a race against time, they wanted to open the school at this location, but they had to do it before the back to school sign up rush that takes place in late July and August. They even had five new families on their waiting list. The landlord initially agreed to help and had offered two free months rent in the initial lease deal, however it was summer and he was on vacation much of the time, as was his architect. The Sebasstians did what they could in their absence and when they finally got Edmonds Building Departments approval- began remodeling the building. They labored 10 and 12 hour days side by side with electricians and contractors to finish the job. It took months and when the construction dust finally cleared and the last permit approval was signed, it was September 15th. They had missed the deadline. They had also used two months of their “operations cost” money for the remodel. They have 20 children enrolled, most of which had followed them from their previous Shoreline location- but it was not enough enrollment to cover the construction costs and pay the rent.
“We really didn’t have enough time,” states Fanovitch’s husband D.A., “one month is not enough time to get the word out about our program. This place is huge with a great music room and open areas so the kids aren’t cramped.”
After several weeks worth of negotiation, the landlord's attorney has just threatened Crescendo with a pay or vacate eviction notice, giving them only the days in October to come up with the money.
The Crescendo parents have stepped up and are trying to save their little school with an Estate Sale Fund Raiser.
Kip Kane and Andrea Kane have organized it at their house this weekend (October 21 & 22nd). The address is 4004 NE 178th, Lake Forest Park, Wa 98155 and if you have something of value that you’d like to donate to sell please call Kip at (206) 313-0753. You can also contact Crescendo directly if you are interested in donating.
Crescendo is a nonprofit school, and can be called directly at (206) 856-5295
Press please contact Devin A. Sebasstian at (206 542-2907
Archival Panasonic AGDVX100 DV footage of Crescendo is available.