Neighbors Developing Divisadero (a nonprofit public benefit corporation that is fiscally sponsored by Booker T Washington Community Service Center) has been working hard since December 2011 to develop a community-driven plan to purchase, rehabilitate, and operate the Harding Theater with a focus on revitalizing a historic resource and maximizing community benefit. A week before the July 1st start date of NDDivis' 6 month capital campaign to raise the $3.6 million, the property owners took the Harding Theater off of the market to try and pursue a condo development project.
Hayes Divisadero has already pursued two failed attempts at condo development, and the third attempt will end the same way since the Harding Theater is protected under state law as a historic resource. Please sign this petition urging Hayes Divisadero LLC to learn from history and allow NDDivis to make them a nice profit off of a development deal that went sour. Divis neighbors and neighborhood supporters deserve the opportunity to raise the funds over the next 6 months and immediately begin to revitalize the Harding Theater in Spring 2013.
Bee the change! After you sign this petition, please visit us at nddivis.org and find your own way to contribute to the success of the Harding Hive Campaign
In the words of the developer Samuel Levin, who built the Harding, Balboa, and Alexandria Theaters in San Francisco in the 1920s, the purpose of each Levin theater was to “become the center of its community recreational life, enhancing the enjoyment of its people as the building of the theater increase the material value of surrounding property.” Unfortunately, over the last 9 years, the Harding Theater has deteriorated into blight -- hampering the vibrancy and enjoyment of the community rather than enhancing the neighborhood. Neighbors Developing Divisadero (NDDivis), a nonprofit public benefit corporation (fiscally sponsored by the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center), would like the opportunity to purchase the Harding Theater after we raise the $3.6 million asking price via a six-month capital campaign scheduled to end on December 31st, 2012.
Since January 2012, NDDivis has mobilized the resources of the community to facilitate the purchase, rehabilitation, and operation of the Harding Theater via the Harding Theater Revitalization Project. As part of our extensive research, community outreach, and relationship building with key stakeholders over the last six months, NDDivis has engaged Hayes Divisadero LLC in conversation about assessing, leasing, and/or purchasing the property. In addition, NDDivis has made multiple offers to Hayes Divisadero LLC to help facilitate the cost of the required historic structures report as well as the cost of pursuing eligibility for federal rehabilitation tax credits via a grant from the Historic Preservation Fund Committee (HPFC).
As such, the recent communication from Michael Klestoff regarding Hayes Divisadero LLC’s plans to remove the Harding Theater from the market threaten to undermine NDDivis’ efforts over the past six months to put the infrastructure in place to begin fundraising for its capital campaign. As you are well aware from your prior efforts to introduce plans to demolish the theater for condominium development, the Harding Theater is protected under state law as a historic resource, and therefore any plans to irreversibly alter its structure, character, and defining features require preparation of environmental impact reports, extensive review and public comment, and approval by the Planning Commission.
The time has come for Hayes Divisadero LLC to take binding steps towards compromise in light of strong community support for the restoration of the Harding Theater as a community resource. As a nonprofit and community supported organization, we ask that you consider entering into an agreement with NDDivis and grant it the option to purchase the Harding Theater for $3.6 million after our Harding Hive campaign ends December 31st. The building has been vacant for nine years—we are simply requesting a six-month window of opportunity to preserve the Harding Theater as an important cultural landmark and community resource. Removing the property from the market and tying it up in further condominium development plans likely to fail again because of the protected historical status of the building does not resonate well with the community or with sound business principles.
NDDivis and the signatories of this letter will unwaveringly commit our efforts to ensuring that the Harding Theater is treated as a historic community resource. If you refuse to acknowledge our desire to enter into an agreement for an option to purchase the Harding Theater after the conclusion of our capital campaign, we will use every legal channel available to prevent destruction of the Harding Theater including: (1) pursuing local landmark status; (2) engaging in further community activism and outreach to support the campaign; and (3) bringing legal challenges under CEQA and state law to any attempts to develop the theater as condominiums.
NDDivis’ mission is to support inclusive, enriching, and sustainable development within the Divisadero Corridor. We have the passion, drive, and know-how to take the Harding Theater from blight to opening night. In addition to profit, we ask you to consider the positive contribution you will be making to the Divisadero Corridor community in giving your blessing to raise the $3.6 million purchase price by December 31st .
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead