Pacific Art League deal finalized
Original post made
on Oct 19, 2007
The Pacific Art League has inked a deal with local developer Jim Baer to purchase and rehabilitate its nearly 80-year-old Ramona Street building, a spokeswoman announced Friday.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Friday, October 19, 2007, 3:26 PM
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Posted by Leslie McLaren
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2007 at 2:17 pm
It has taken quite some time, but I am coml=pelled to write now.The tone of some of the discussions generated by some members of The Pacific Art League is really amazing, so contentious!. I served on the League Board,a VOLUNTEER position by the way...(that means NOT PAID.) I also served on the Building Committee, the Governance Committee and the Finance committee, all at the same time, we had a very small board. Faced with the defidiences of the building and having remodeled a few properties, I have some understanding (and appreciation)of some the problems inherent in the attempt. I loved the art league, but this process burned me out. Some facts and explainations....
As lovely as the League building is, it is an historical TWO category, meaning that the exterior will be required to kept looking the same as it does now, but is does not qualify as a category one historical building...different requirements and restrictions. Please educate yourselves on the differences! There is quite a bit of misinformation floating about! It does have quite serious building deficiencies with regard to structure. Please, you all that say retrofitting the structure can be done easily, we looked into that scenario quite extensively, and after all the discussions it became very clear that it was not feasible. If it were that easy we would have jumped at the opportunity. We were not happy with the news as it made our job in serving the members wants MUCH more difficult.....more hours of investigationg and problem solving, ahem, all for free! This building retrofit will not be an easy process for anyone.The vibration alone from the demolition necessary to retrofit makes me cringe.
We,the building committee interviewed several architects and construction companies. Rudolof Sletton had already delivered an opinion on the building structure, and we worked with Bob Peterson Architects, and Bloch Construction after interviewing, checking references and visiting three architect and contractor firm projects before selecting them. There were structural engineers involved as well who consulted with both the architects and contracting firm. There was also consultation done with Palo Alto Building Deptartment personel,and as a result some of the upper story components designed by the architectural firm were downsized to keep the facade of the building intact....the small third story as an example. WE WERE NOT ALLOWED to make it any larger. Many hours and lots of thinking, planning and problem solving were done with the league members in mind. The fact that some people don't like the results? Well, try to design a house that 600 folks like!!
The professional project planner, contracter and architects are the best...I would recommend them highly as did all of their references. We could not go to the community (or anyone) and ask for funds in the neighborhood of 6 million dollars to remodel our building if we didn't FULLY understand the scope of the project. That means that we needed to know exactly what was required, how will it be accomplished and what is the projected cost. This is a short list, but it included dealing with street and sidewalk issues,( trees for instance) traffic problems, neighborhood disruptions, demolition debris removaland delivery of new material...construction traffic, disruption of neighboring businesses, relocation and temporary placement of the classrooms and offices( that's the easy one!) staying within the parameters of the allowable size, accomodating the various classrooms and incorporating the rented studio spaces on Alma under the same roof as the rest of the classes ......I'm tired just remembering the enormous list that was presented. The professionals, the project manager, the architects and the construction firms were very helpful and fully capable of resolving all of these issues....the art league had to have these addressed before attempting to raise millions of dollars. No donor will be stepping up to the plate with a half conceived plan. In order to acertain that we were following a correct path,other institutions executives were consulted, Ronald McDonald House, Mountain View Music and Art Center, Palo Alto Historical Association and the Allied Arts Guild to mention a few. The executive of the art league at that time followed an often recomended course of action, and that was to educate herself as well as those of us on the building committee by asking the successful executives how on earth might we accomplish what the members reported that they wanted? Oh yes...there were polls taken and yes this is what the results showed, so try she did, we all did. Information was gathered, and paid for with a portion of the bequest...The bottom line is that we were then faced with the cost at 6.5 million?!... where was that going to come from? We tried....while I was there...we had some really nice fund raisers, First Friday was started, various community projects initiated. The 'inexperienced' board worked with enthusiasm and energy, and we did recruit some experienced folks. The recruits on the board presently have many valuable skills and experience as well as an enormous desire to help the art league. The present president/ ed? amazing! Have I mentioned that the League has a Conflict of Interest Policy? ( So much for the accusation of financial gain for the board members!) I know, I submitted it along with other important documents gleaned from the works of John Carver and with the guidance of Board Source, an organization that assists and educates non-profit boards such as the Art League to develop into well functioning boards. (This was as my position as the governance board person.)
This organization was initially a group of friends who got together to critique each others' art and encourage one another. There were some lovely and beloved Palo Altons in this gathering, Birge and Esther Clark's parents for example. It is my hope that supporting each other and art become once again the focus and goal of the league's members, all of them. The of accusations, inuendos and downright vehemence is so contrary to the initial purpose of the league, I am saddened. I was so tired after my board experience that I have not been a member for years. I am renewing my membership now though as I can see that the goal of this administration is to maintain a lovely gallery in the present location, along with a classroom to use and provide the league members with a space accessable to all who wish to support each other and focus on their wonderful creativity...to the present administration, Hear Hear and Bravo for your untiring efforts. The soul of the league is not the building but the community that endeavors to sustain it.