The City of Palo Alto failed to prevent water damage to its historic Roth Building during the past two winters and will now have to take $415,000 from its reserves for needed repairs and improvements.
The City Council unanimously agreed to spend that money Monday night.
“The purpose of the improvements is to prevent further structural deterioration until the building is improved and developed for its long-term use,” according to a staff report.
The Palo Alto Historical Association hopes to turn the Spanish Colonial-style building, at 300 Homer Avenue, into the city’s first local history museum. In March 2004, the council accepted a proposal from the group, and asked city staff to negotiate a lease.
But those negotiations have taken longer than anyone expected, at least in part because of the water damage. Originally, the city offered the building to a nonprofit “as is,” but the group argued the city should pay for harm caused because the city failed to properly protect it from the elements.
The $415,000 will be used to install a new drain system, fix the roof and basement, seal the windows and make other repairs.
The final agreement with the history museum is expected to return to the council in July. The group will need to raise approximately $5.5 million to renovate the building. So far, it’s raised $2 million, according to city staff.
Birge Clark, one of the area's preeminent architects, designed the 1932 building. For nearly 70 years, it housed the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
(Published on Palo Alto Online 6/6/06)