Studio 52 looks for new home

The founder of a community-based non-profit is looking for investors to help buy a permanent location for the educational and arts-oriented entity.

Emily Pieper is considering buying a downtown landmark, the former Corner Café, or will put money raised toward securing a different permanent location for Studio 52. The non-profit has been told that it should prepare to move out of space it has been renting next to Bean and Vine at the West End Plaza, Pieper said. The change could happen as early as February.

Because programs through the studio, such as dance, Lego League, art classes and others don’t make substantial money for the studio, Pieper has started a Go Fund Me page looking to raise $15,000 toward the purchase of a space. Early this week, donors had pledged $855.

Pieper said she does not pay herself a salary and the non-profit doesn’t take in big earnings but focuses on offering community enrichment. “We charge what we need to get whatever program done,” she said. “None of the programs we’re doing have the goal of making money.”

Scott Ramsdell, an investor in the plaza, said Studio 52’s space has not been leased as of yet, but that day might be coming. “We’ve had interest in it,” he said.

Studio 52 has leased the space at a discounted rate for four years with the understanding that when a new tenant is interested, the studio would vacate.

The space has been great for community programs, Pieper said, but she also likes the idea of going into a downtown building and bringing more people to the business district on Second Avenue.

The former Corner Café, which now is La Victoria Hispanic grocery store, is owned by Chris Ortega, who owns other grocery stores in Sioux Falls. He has listed the building for $79,900 and has been on the market a couple of weeks, said Leonardo Benitez with Keller Williams Realty in Sioux Falls.

Pieper isn’t willing to spend that much on the building, even with an apartment upstairs and a commercial kitchen. But she still wants to find a suitable place for the studio and any money raised would go to that, she said.

For Pieper, it’s a matter of offering local people, especially children, opportunities so that parents don’t have to drive out of town for programs such as dance and subsequently spend money outside of Flandreau on groceries, gas and other purchases.

“If I’m going to live in a small town, I want there to be things I enjoy here,” she said.

Flandreau has the potential to either grow or to be swallowed up by businesses in Sioux Falls or Brookings, she said. “If there aren’t fun and creative things happening … pretty soon people leave to go where that’s happening somewhere else,” she said.

Pieper said she sees the potential in Flandreau but it will take a community effort to continue. “I know I can’t do it alone.”

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