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Lorenzo Theater Foundation

San Lorenzo's Historic Theatre to Have Another Chance to Shine


FOUNDATION’S ANNUAL Thursday, May 31.2007

San Lorenzo's Historic Theatre to Have Another Chance to Shine

An historic Art Deco theatre is about to get a new lease on life due to a purchase agreement signed this week by the Lorenzo Theater Foundation, Inc. with Dr. Dharam Salwan, to acquire the Lorenzo Theatre, 16080 Hesperian Blvd. in unincorporated San Lorenzo, California.

Under terms of the agreement the Foundation has 14 months to raise the agreed upon price of $300,000 to purchase the Theatre. The Foundation will take possession of the property in “as is” condition and will be solely responsible for maintaining the exterior of the property which includes graffiti and any debris on the sidewalk in front of the Theatre.

The agreement further specifies that the names ‘Vir and Vivda Salwan’ be placed on the Theatre in a channel lettered, illuminated sign with a minimum height of 18 inches. The sign must receive approval by the Alameda County Planning Department within a specified period of time. If the sign does not receive approval by the County Planning Department the purchase agreement can be made be null and void.

The Lorenzo Theater Foundation was formed nine years ago for the sole purpose of restoring the Lorenzo Theatre. Foundation president Nancy Shelvy stated, “It has been a long, difficult process to reach this agreement. We were fortunate to find an attorney who was willing to work with us, pro bono, on every aspect of the agreement to ensure that we clearly understood the terms of the agreement.

“Our vision of the Lorenzo Theatre to be a beacon to once again light San Lorenzo Village can now become a reality,” notes Shelvy. “Once renovated the Theatre can be used as a community center as well as a center for visual and performing arts. Special events, such as weddings, parties, school performances, lectures and corporate events can be accommodated and will provide additional revenue to support our restoration efforts. .“We will be starting a campaign to raise the funds to purchase the Lorenzo. To this end we have added a fundraiser and a public relations person to our board and we are counting on the people of our community to help us meet our goal.”

The Foundation’s fundraising plan is “300 people at $1,000 each”. However, the names of donors who give $100 or more will be placed on a plaque in the lobby of the Theatre. The fundraising campaign kicked off at the agreement signing with the Theatre owner, Dr. Dharam Salwan , pledging a $5,000 donation.

It is estimated that the cost of the complete restoration of the Theatre will be in the millions of dollars. However, now that the Foundation has a signed purchase agreement it can apply for grants from local and regional foundations as well as national organizations dedicated to the performing arts.

The Foundation’s preliminary restoration phases span a five year period and includes:

  • Preparation for limited occupancy;>
  • Preparation for conditional public occupancy;
  • Performing arts related improvements;
  • Preservation/restoration of historical improvements.

Each of these phases is detailed in the Foundation’s Business Plan. Quoting the Plan. Currently “the interior is now stripped of its seats, Art Deco water fountain and circular snack bar, but has a number of special features of historic significance, and still houses the Lorenzo’s most precious gem: original murals by Anthony Heinsbergen, a world-renowned muralist of the period, which are etched in fluorescent paint that glows under black light.” A copy of the Business Plan is available for reading at the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association, 377 Paseo Grande in San Lorenzo.

The Lorenzo Theatre is a California State Historic Resource and an Historic Preservation (HP) District, the first and only such district in Alameda County. The Lorenzo Theater Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit 501-C-3 California corporation.

Anyone interested in making a contribution of any amount can make checks payable to: The Lorenzo Theater Foundation, P.O. Box 193, San Lorenzo CA 94580. Please specify that funds are to be used to help purchase the Theatre.

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