Katy Caldwell's dream of establishing a new roller derby headquarters in downtown Santa Rosa is perilously close to collapsing.
The prospective site, a former furniture store at 428 Mendocino Ave., just blocks off Old Courthouse Square, is back on the market for sale or rent after Caldwell was unable to raise the $50,000 or more it would have cost to install a sprinkler system required by the city.
"I think things should have been done a little bit differently," she said last week. "Some things weren't prioritized, and the money just went."
Caldwell, who also goes by the performing name "Lady Sparks," and members of the city's small roller derby league had hoped to convert the 13,000-square-foot storefront into a practice facility and eventual play arena for the offbeat rollerskate-based sport.
They called the project "The Wrecking Yard," a nod to the playful violence inherent in roller derby, which features teams attempting to score points by lapping one another on a track. Efforts to stop those score-producing laps involve a variety of full-contact blocks and maneuvers.
Since signing a lease on the building and using primarily volunteer labor, Caldwell and her partners installed a new skate-resistant floor and other improvements, but they were unable to deal with the sprinkler issue.
Practices at the building stopped about a month ago.
She said she still hopes to find an investor to step in and save the facility and the work she has done so far, but that has to happen before the owners lease or sell to another tenant.
"We're looking for someone who's willing to be a partner," Caldwell said.
Broker Kameron Izadjou, who is handling the real estate listing, said he has had discussions with several perspective tenants, including a grocery store. The owners, who declined a request for an interview, are asking $1.95 million for the property, which includes 4,000 square feet of second floor office space in addition to the 13,320 square feet of ground floor retail.
December and January are typically slow for sales and leases, Izadjou said, so he has not yet heavily advertized the listing, but he plans a more aggressive campaign leading up to the hotter spring market.
In the meantime, Caldwell said, the difficulty of establishing a new headquarters doesn't signal trouble for the four-team Sonoma County Roller Derby League, founded in 2007. Her squad, the Wine Country Homewreckers, continues to practice at the Boys - Girls Club building in Windsor, and plays occasional games. The next is set for February.
Members have played at the fairgrounds and Sonoma State University, but they remain hopeful of finding a permanent home.
"We're already looking for a place to skate right now," Caldwell said.
(You can reach Staff Writer Sean Scully at 521-5313 or email@example.com. On Twitter @BeerCountry.)
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