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Dance studio taps into Matthews façade grant program

You might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but maybe you can judge a business by its façade.

That’s the idea, anyway, behind the town of Matthews’ façade grant program. And it’s the hope of Thomas and Elizabeth Malvasia, owners of Matthews’s new Planet Ballroom dance studio that won the first $5,000 façade grant.

The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and at 189 Trade St. in Matthews’ vintage downtown, was constructed circa 1900 as home to a grocery store and post office. Dubbed the Orr Building after its original developer, it was perfect for a dance studio with a focus on club, competitive and social ballroom dance classes, Thomas Malvasia said.

The couple stripped the interior of the building, last used as an office space, down to the brick walls, original ceilings and hardwood floors.

“The overall ambiance … of this building helps us create that 1920s atmosphere that we want for our studio,” said Malvasia, who with his wife owns two other Planet Ballroom studios in the Charlotte area.

But the couple wanted to advertise the business’ interior by also restoring the exterior. Which is where the $5,000 grant came in. The Malvasias used the grant, awarded in 2011, to restore the windows, awning and recessed entry, as well as to make repairs to the cornice and other exterior features to return the Orr Building to “its historic, classy, sophisticated self,” Malvasia said.

It remains to be seen if the exterior renovations will work as planned, but if you want more information now about the town’s façade grant program, which this year has $7,500 available, contact Jay Camp at (704) 847-4411, extension 228, or jcamp@matthewsnc.gov.

Tony Brown can be reached at tony.brown@mecktimes.com.

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