The nonprofit organization hoping to restore the Lompoc Theatre scored a major victory Friday when the Oversight Board voted unanimously to agree to sell a $700,000 lien for a nominal $1 fee.
The vote helps the nonprofit organization, known as the Lompoc Theatre Project, move one step closer to getting the keys to the building.
“We’re very excited and very hopeful,” LTP Board President Mark Herrier said. “This was a big step, perhaps the last big step, but there are still … a few steps more, but I think the worst is over.”
Next, the LTP hope to get final approval from the California Department of Finance, which has already given tentative approval of the plan, according to city staff.
Linda Wertman, who serves as executive director of the Oversight Board, said that she expects approval within 30 to 60 days from that state department.
“I feel pretty good,” board member Patrick Wiemiller said. “It’s one step closer to seeing something happen that’s of substance with the theater. I think it’s obviously something that the citizens are interested in and have been waiting for a long time for.”
But the vote did not come without discussion, as board members weighed the various aspects of the proposal.
Board member Renée Bahl, representing the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, asked what happens if the nonprofit organization fails to restore in its efforts.
Herrier quickly responded to her by telling her about his background in the business and noting the various partnerships the LTP already has in place.
Bahl also asked if the city of Lompoc would be willing to foot the $700,000 lien on the property if the theater was not restored. But city staff quickly countered, saying that the lien was never intended to be repaid.
The figure Bahl referenced refers to the fact that board members were asked to sell the $700,000 lien on the building for a $1 fee, based upon the negative $100,000 appraisal, because of an estimated $800,000 cost to demolish the building.
“We could wish for that $700,000, but it’s nowhere and given the historical aspects of the theater and the condition it is in, it has a negative value,” Herrier said.
Wiemiller, who also serves Lompoc as city administrator, said that selling the property for $1 is actually a gain of $100,001, based on the negative valuation of the property.
In addition to the gain, the nonprofit organization has agreed to pay the delinquent property taxes when it gets the title. The delinquent taxes are currently estimated at roughly $56,200.
LTP organizers have been waiting since 2012 to get the keys to the building, and the wait has made it difficult to secure donations, Herrier said.
“We still have our hands tied behind our back with fundraising, because we don’t technically have the keys yet. It’s very frustrating, because we have people ready to get running and it still looks like we’re a few months away,” Herrier said. “But, yes, we are very happy and the worst is over.”
Last month, the LTP unveiled its conceptual renderings in a fundraiser at Montemar Wines.
The new theater will feature a number of new amenities, which all will be made possible by moving the old tack shed, also known as the land office, from the rear of the theater to the north side.
That will create space where plans call for a new structure, which will include dressing rooms, a scene dock, a green room and a multipurpose room capable of hosting rehearsals, banquets and corporate events.
There also will be space for a VIP room on the lower level near the tack shed. In addition, there will be efforts to renovate the facade and the marquee.
Herrier predicted last month that his nonprofit organization needs roughly $6 million to finance the project. Members of the LTP are hopeful that the building can be fully restored and reopened by the theater’s 90th birthday, which is in May 2017. The project could, however, take up to five years to complete, he said.
For more information on the LTP and its efforts, visit lompoctheatre.org.