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Santa Rosa roller derby site in jeopardy

  • Katy Caldwell, who also goes by the roller derby name of "Lady Sparks", works to transform the empty store at 428 Mendocino Blvd. into a roller derby rink in Santa Rosa, California on Monday, June 27, 2011. Caldwell likes to wear her skates for the exercise and because it helps her work faster.(BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

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."

Roller Derby Rink In Santa Rosa

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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.


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