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UPDATE: Pyramid Atlantic relocating to Hyattsville Arcade Building

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Posted on: June 7, 2015

BY ANDREW MARDER — Pyramid Atlantic, an arts center located in Silver Spring, will be moving to Hyattsville. On May 4, the Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved its 25-year lease on the Arcade Building, located at 4318 Gallatin Street.

According to city documents, Hyattsville agreed to provide $200,000 for structural improvements to the Arcade and Pyramid Atlantic agreed to repay that sum with interest over the course of its lease, at which point it will have the option to purchase the building from the city. Pyramid Atlantic has until Nov. 2016 to build-out and occupy the Arcade. Once the initial renovations are complete, the center has agreed to assume all maintenance costs for the lease’s duration. The city will review any permanent changes Pyramid makes, according to Community Development Director and Assistant City Administrator Jim Chandler.

Pyramid Atlantic Executive Director Jose Dominguez thanked the City at the council meeting, saying it had been a pleasure to work with the City staff and that the center was looking forward to being one of “Hyattsville’s involved and engaged businesses.”

So far, it’s been a smooth process for Pyramid Atlantic.

“Hyattsville has been warm and welcoming,” Artistic Director Gretchen Schermerhorn said. “The process with the city went really well. At one point, Jose and I looked at each other and said, ‘Is this too good to be true?’”

According to its website, the organization is “dedicated to the creation and appreciation of hand papermaking, printmaking, digital arts, and the art of the book.” Classes currently available at the Silver Spring location include screen printing and letterpress.

Hyattsville is excited to get such a “great regional arts organization,” Chandler said. The loan for renovating the Arcade was designed so that Pyramid Atlantic wasn’t “stretched too thin.” The repayment of that loan will be Pyramid Atlantic’s only monthly liability, as they will not be charged rent on top of the loan repayment.

At the end of the lease, Chandler said the building would revert to the city if the center opted not to purchase, or left before the lease terminates.

Pyramid Atlantic was founded by artist Helen C. Frederick in 1981, and has been located in downtown Silver Spring since 2003.

Originally, Pyramid Atlantic said it planned to move into the renovated Silver Spring Library. According to legal documents and statements at Montgomery County Council meetings, the facility offered Pyramid Atlantic a 15,500 square foot space in exchange for workshops, internships, and outreach provided by the center. In Nov. 2014, that plan fell through due to slow development and concerns from the Montgomery County Council who soured the deal, according to Dominguez.

According to Chandler, in Dec. 2014, Pyramid Atlantic reached out to the City of Hyattsville about a possible move. The organization was stuck with bond funding tied to the original plan. Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky became involved in the project and was able to make changes at the state level to free up funding for the organization’s relocation to Hyattsville. The State Bond Bill authorized the sale of up to $500,000 in State Debt to fund “the design and construction of the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Space at the Silver Spring Library.”

“We had to change the law to get that money to come to Hyattsville,” Pinsky said.

According to Pyramid Atlantic, those funds, private donations, and the $200,000 loan from the City will now be used to build out the Arcade space. Schermerhorn said that architectural reviews are already underway.

The center is looking forward to a new life in Hyattsville.

“We have a new space, a new brand, and a new website coming soon,” Schermerhorn said. “It’s a fresh start, and we’re very excited about it.”

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