We love it when Curbed readers ask questions. Usually they want to know what's happening to an empty lot, but earlier this week we got a question about an ongoing renovation:
I walk by 285 Ellis a lot and it seems like it's undergoing a huge renovation. They've had four workers working on the entrance for four days. Interesting considering the high-end materials and the neighborhood. A quick check online at the Building Department tells us the two upper stories are being converted to residential use. Simple question, simple answer. Presumably the check-cashing at street-level stays. But this being one of the older neighborhoods in town, you figure there a few layers to the onion, and a Google search revealed a previous tenant, the Renaissance Ballroom at the same address. We spoke with Christine Blanton, the owner of Renaissance, a ballroom and dancing school she maintained there for forty-eight years until December 2008, when the building was sold and she was evicted with a months notice. While it may have been revived on reality TV, she tells us that urban ballroom dancing has been run out of town by high rents and changing neighborhoods, one studio relocating as far south as Mountain View. As for Ms. Blanton, no more crowds doing the tango on her custom-built dance floor; her business is now reduced to private lessons for wedding couples in a rented studio. More empty lots later in the week.
· Department of Building Inspection Permit Services [SFGov]
· Renaissance Ballroom [Renaissance Ballroom]