Unable to reach an agreement with McCaffery Interests to stay, Contemporary Craft negotiated an exit strategy instead, with plans to leave its prime space on the corner of Smallman and 21st in the Produce Terminal by the end of 2019.
Here is Executive Director Janet McCall’s statement in full from the URA board meeting today.
“I can only describe this moment as bittersweet for Contemporary Craft. We know this will be disappointing news to many of our supporters and we understand.
We have loved being in the Produce Terminal where we have enjoyed enormous support from our neighbors and from all those people who come to the Strip to shop, to eat, to stroll and to see art at Contemporary Craft. We want to thank our wonderful neighbors and all those people who have come to our doors over the years and whom we know will follow and continue to support us wherever we ultimately find our new home. We wish we knew where that will be today but we anticipate knowing that soon and, of course, will let everyone know as soon as we do.
The bitter side of this moment is leaving the Produce Terminal — who would not be sad about leaving their home of 32 years? — but the sweet side is the prospect of a new beginning. As our negotiations with McCaffery proceeded and we began to contemplate the prospect of a move, we began to feel the excitement that starting fresh in a new location can bring. Over the last few months, we have kicked our search for a new home into high gear and we are delighted to be able to say that we have identified several potential locations that have convinced us that we are going to be just fine — in fact, better than fine.
We want to thank the board of the URA for giving us the time over the last three months to reach the agreement with McCaffery Interests that we have reached today. And we want to especially thank Dan Gilman and the Mayor who have played such an instrumental role in bringing us to this point. Councilwoman Deb Gross, too, has been a constant advocate for us and we thank her, too. And, of course, we thank McCaffery for its investment in our future.
We want to thank as well the hundreds of people who posted messages of support during the public comment period, stopped by to express their concern, or called, emailed or texted to ask, “How can I help?”
We will need your help in many ways as we move forward. But here are two specific things. First, keep visiting! We will remain in our space through 2019 even as construction is underway around us. Your continuing support — shopping in our Store, taking workshops, visiting our exhibitions — will help us immensely as we are already experiencing a downturn in business and know it will be a challenging year. Second, we will need to raise a very significant amount of money — up to $7 million. We will be calling on you to help us achieve this goal together.
In the meantime, we are not going anywhere very soon. We will be right where we have always been for a while. And stay tuned: we will have very exciting news in the very near future.”
Susan Yohe, board chair of Contemporary Craft, was unable to provide details about the agreement at this time but told NEXTpittsburgh, “It’s a tremendous opportunity to write on a clean slate. I’m very excited about the prospects for the future. I think we’ll land well and grow and it’s going to be an exciting period for us.”
Where would they like to go?
“We want to be in the urban core,” she said. “We want to serve a diverse audience. The North Side is a prime location and there’s a lot of synergies with lots of arts organizations there. We’re also looking Downtown and we’re open to anything that might become available in the Strip.”