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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 1st, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 17

The historic Lompoc Theatre is in escrow

By AMY ASMAN

The Lompoc Theatre is changing hands again, and this time for good—hopefully.

Members of the Lompoc Theatre Project recently announced that the theater—which once served as a place for locals to view vaudeville, local dramatic productions, and movies—went into escrow on May 12.

The property, including the theater and commercial office space, is still owned by Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC), which bought the theater in 2006 with the intent to restore it.

However, a bevy of legal and financial issues triggered by the recession and poor management caused the nonprofit to go bankrupt. A collection of liens on the Lompoc Theatre and the statewide dissolution of redevelopment agencies left city officials temporarily in charge of the historic property.

In early May, the Lompoc City Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Lompoc Theatre Project leaders, clearing the way for the nonprofit to obtain the property title. The MOU includes a timeline of the steps project members will take to restore and re-open the theater.

“We want to have live theater, concerts, movies, everything,” said Laurie Jervis, the project’s secretary and publicity chairperson. “It’s an awesome building with good bones. It’s just what this town needs. We want to connect with people’s memories and to recapture that heyday element.”

If all goes according to plan, the escrow process between the Lompoc Theatre Project and LHCDC will result in the resolution of liens, property insurance, and unpaid property taxes.

“We expect it to be a long escrow,” Jervis said, estimating it would take at least six months. “It’s not going to be like buying a house. It’s going to be a process.”

She explained that during spring of 2006, the Lompoc Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and the City Council approved two loans totaling $475,000 to LHCDC so it could buy the theater. In 2007, the RDA amended its loan, which upped LHCDC’s overall borrowing amount to $700,000. LHCDC bought the theater from the Calvert family, one of the original owners, for $850,000.

Jervis said project leaders plan to meet with city officials sometime in August to resolve the $700,000 in liens, which she predicts the city will forgive.

“A question a lot of people have is, ‘Why doesn’t the city just take [the theater] back?’ The city doesn’t want this building,” she said, adding that the cost to just demolish the building is estimated at $800,000.

Additionally, the property comes with a penalty for blight.

“Our goal is to make the blight go away,” Jervis said.

On the plus side, she said, the Calvert family recently decided to forgive a $175,000 lien it held on the property.

 “They decided it would be best for them to just forgive it,” Jervis said.




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