TIFTON -- For Regina Clark, instructor of dance and owner of Regina's School of Dance, the saying "the third time's the charm" definitely rings true.
For the past few years, Clark had been trying to purchase property so she could renovate and expand the size of her dance school. She had made two previous offers to the owner, but it wasn't until the third time she made an offer that the owner agreed to sell.
The dance school, located at 138 E. 3rd Street in Tifton's Historic District, next to Guy's Drug Store, took a year to renovate and has been open since March 1. The old building was completely transformed, doubling the school in size from 2,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet. Whereas the old school only had one main studio and another smaller studio, the new school has three studios, a waiting area, a dance shop and an office. Each studio also has an observation area where parents can watch their children dance.
Students can purchase supplies in the dance shop, including shoes, leotards and tights. The shop is also open to the public. To enhance the waiting area, Clark plans to create a gallery, similar to a museum. She has already placed several framed pictures of her students on the walls.
"I am so pleased with all of the changes that have been made," Clark said. "We had simply outgrown our old school, and the renovation of this building provides us with much needed space. The additional space is great, and I am glad we have observation areas for all of the studios. Before the renovation, one of the studios did not have an observation area, and it was so disappointing for the parents not to be able to watch their children dance. It's also great to see how excited my students are. They love the new school, and they are so proud of it."
Since the school is located in the historic district, Clark had to work with the City of Tifton Downtown Development Authority, the Georgia Historic Preservation Office in Atlanta and other area entities in order to get approval and guidelines for the renovation. Every effort was made to give the new dance school an appearance indicative of a building in Tifton's Historic District and to ensure that it fit in with the buildings already on the street.
"There is no doubt that Regina's School of Dance enhances 3rd Street," said Harold Harper, a member of the City of Tifton Downtown Development Authority who also owns Harper Enterprises. "Regina did a great job with the renovation, and the school looks great. I am really proud of it."
"When a building is renovated, the entire community benefits," added Julie Smith, co-chair of the Tifton Heritage Foundation. "People are naturally drawn to buildings that are visually pleasing. Renovations also increase the value of the property, which helps taxpayers. Regina's School of Dance looks great and fits in nicely with the other buildings, enhancing the overall look of the street."
Now that she has extra studio space, Clark can offer additional classes, including a boys' hip hop class and a boys' acrobatics class -- making her the first dance instructor to offer an all boys' class in Tifton. She also offers jazz and lyrical classes for adults. Clark personally oversees all of the classes at her school, but she also has seven assistant teachers who help her.
"I always loved being in the historic district, so I was glad I could stay in the same area," Clark said. "I wouldn't have wanted to move to a brand new location. All of the students and parents were very supportive during the year-long renovation and were willing to help in any way they could. I am also very excited about the new classes. Being able to start an all boys' class was a lifelong dream for me. The renovation has been a great experience, and we are so excited to finally be in the new school. It took a long time to get here, but it was definitely worth the wait."
Clark, who has been teaching dance for 21 years, has taught at her school in Tifton for the past 16 years. She also has studios in Douglas and Nashville.
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