White Hall joins business scene
A new-age spiritual group is taking on the task of putting life back into the historic landmark at Sixth Street and White Avenue by making it a business center, performance venue and community meeting space.
Dragon Starr Sanctuary, whose nonprofit status is pending, was started by the owners of Heart of the Dragon metaphysical store and has a dozen members. The group has purchased the 30,000-square-foot building at 600 White Ave., to be called White Hall Village. The building was listed on the market for $1.6 million.
“White Hall Village is a collective of creative businesses, artisans, craft and service people to promote a healing, uplifting atmosphere for creative self-expression and empowerment,” said Kata Tagan-Fisk, co-owner of Heart of the Dragon. Her store, which for six years was located at 12th Street and Patterson Road, has moved into the building, where it has doubled its retail space.
“Over the years we’ve had our store here, we’ve become aware of the need in the community for different kinds of resources and venues to be available,” Tagan-Fisk said. “As an ordained minister, I’ve seen there’s a lot of shortage of places to have weddings that are nondenominational. There’s a need in the community for people to explore different endeavors.”
Four businesses have opened in the space in the past month. They are Sunshine Candles, which customizes candles; Ariadnes Threads, which sells new, used and recycled costumes and clothing; NightWind Creations, which makes American Indian-style jewelry and weaponry; and Heart of the Dragon, which sells clothing, books, crystals, jewelry and items that speak to Christian beliefs and other religions such as Buddhism.
Dragon Starr Sanctuary is recognized by the state as a nonprofit and is awaiting IRS paperwork to make it official. The group is looking for nonprofit status because it sponsors Spiral Scouts, an organization for pagan youth, and the group will be teaching classes on world religions, health and healing techniques and cultural traditions. The group is leasing to business owners and their money will be used to promote community programs such as a food bank, Tagan said.
“This is my very first store, and I’ve been open for a week and a half,” said Ian Staten, who owns NightWind and has been a vendor at powwows throughout the Grand Valley. “This space was available to me and my first real opportunity to open up a store.”
The building originally was a Presbyterian church and has been a school, a dance company, a place for recitals and theater performances and a church space for various denominations.
Owners say they want to have another dance company for the space upstairs and encourage other businesses such as massage therapists and Reiki practitioners, artists, body work practitioners to apply to lease space.
The historic nature of the building has encouraged many people to ask for a tour of the space, Tagan-Fisk said.
Rebecca Davis Winters is looking to be the booking agent for a diverse spectrum of performers wanting to lease the church sanctuary as a performance venue. The space, with pews on the bottom and seating on a higher level, can seat about 350 people.
“We’re striving to hold the old world charm and ambiance that is here and the historic landmark that it is,” Tagan-Fisk said.