Roll out the cars. Roll in the masking tape.
In yet another sign of Downtown Plaza's changing landscape, Tapigami, the local masking-tape art group, is moving into a 7,300-square-foot space that until recently was a gleaming Hyundai dealership.
Tapigami, founded by Sacramento tape artist Danny Scheible, intends to officially open May 11 with a gallery, retail store and exhibition space.
"We're the lucky beneficiaries of some really awesome space," said Tapigami business manager Tre Borden, who said the deal came together quickly, in less than a month.
He said Tapigami is paying a nominal monthly amount, plus utilities. The former car dealership sits on one of the mall's busiest traffic stretches, on the north side about two stores down from the mall's piazza and Macy's women's store.
A Downtown Plaza official declined to discuss the lease terms in specifics.
"We have a short-term agreement with them for one year," said Downtown Plaza general manager Raelene Trumm. She said the Hyundai dealership moved out Jan. 31.
Efforts to reach Chris Shaffer, manager of Sacramento-area Hyundai operations, were unsuccessful.
The novel car-showroom-in-a-mall arrangement revved up in late 2010, when the mall was still owned by Westfield. Early in 2011, Shaffer said the showroom, reportedly leased for $11,000 a month, was exceeding expectations and could close 50 deals a month.
But its departure is just one of many in a long line of high-end tenants that hit the exits in recent years, from Banana Republic and J. Crew to more recent announcements by Gap, Gap Kids and Brookstone.
Last summer, the long-struggling mall was purchased from Westfield for $22 million by JMA Ventures Inc. of San Francisco.
With the addition of Tapigami, the mall appears to be undergoing an artistic renaissance.
In February, it welcomed Flywheel, a gallery/art studio/retail shop overseen by the Sacramento Arts and Business Council. Located on the mall's ground floor across from the LensCrafters store, it hopes to draw a mix of local art enthusiasts and casual shoppers, who can buy paintings and music CDs by regional artists.
That business concept is similar to ZuhG Life, a scrappy upstairs store whose entrepreneurial young owner, Bryan Nichols, sells CDs, T-shirts and art by local artists and musicians.
For Tapigami, having an art gallery and retail space inside a mall is "a great template for incorporating art into urban revitalization and renewal," said Borden. "It was the perfect time to make this proposal and to receive such favorable terms," he said.
It also means being able to consolidate all of Tapigami's various gallery and studio space under one roof. This week, Scheible and Borden closed a nine-month, large-scale exhibit of Tapigami's artworks at the California Museum in downtown Sacramento.
Downtown Plaza and its tenants face an uncertain future. Strategically located, the mall is part of a joint venture under way between JMA and a high-profile development group that is seeking to keep the Sacramento Kings in town and build a new arena on the plaza site.
Call The Bee's Claudia Buck, (916) 321-1968. Read her Personal Finance blog, www.sacbee.com/personalfinanceblog.