We at the Lompoc Theatre Project are beyond thrilled to announce — via social media, and at a news conference we just held— that we now own the deed to the historic Lompoc Theatre, built in 1927.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Jed Beebe cleared the path Monday, Jan. 25, for the Theatre Project to take ownership of the theater when he granted the nonprofit’s petition to foreclose on the previous owner, Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC).
“We are excited that at long last, we finally own this theater. We cannot wait to get started on its restoration,” said Mark Herrier, president of the board of directors for the Lompoc Theatre Project (LTP).
“But even though it feels like we have finally reached the finish line, we are in fact just getting started,” he said.
Herrier said the restoration will take about two years, but said it is possible to re-open the theater doors by the end of its 90th anniversary year in late 2017 if donors, residents and businesses step up quickly with their support.
“Whether it is sweat equity, dollars, donations of equipment, it doesn’t matter, we need your help. This is the Lompoc community’s last — and best — chance to make this theater a reality,” Herrier said. “We need the community to step forward physically, emotionally and financially.”
In December 2014, the nonprofit announced a restoration plan that included conceptual renderings provided by professional theater designers commissioned by the nonprofit. Among the new amenities in the estimated $6 million restoration are an expanded lobby, meeting room, rehearsal space and dressing rooms for performing artists, an outdoor courtyard and disability access.
Among the types of programming planned for the restored theater are live musical concerts of various genres, dance performances, movies, matinees, educational lectures and more.
“Art elevates everyone. And the youth of this town especially have been starved for a venue like this for far too long,” Herrier said.
“The youth of Lompoc will be exposed to world class artists that will literally change their lives,” he said. “Their experience watching and interacting with these performers will inspire a whole new world of possibilities they might never have considered before.”
The nonprofit also plans to offer the theater and adjoining spaces for special events, weddings and private parties.
“We will be able to provide our community a unique setting for all kinds of events, celebrations and joyous occasions,” Herrier said.
The foreclosure is the last step of a lengthy process that began more than three years ago to transfer ownership of the theater property and adjacent parking lot from LHCDC to the Theatre Project. The transfer of the deed was complicated by three outstanding liens from public and private loans given to LHCDC to acquire the property. LHCDC leased the property from the original owners, the Calvert family, in 2003 and finalized the sale in 2006, but was never able to begin restoration of the long-vacant theater.
The nonprofit purchased the largest deed on the property — a $700,000 deed held by the former Lompoc Redevelopment Agency — in October for the sum of $1. LTP has agreed to pay five years of unpaid property taxes back to 2011 — reduced to about $60,000 after the nonprofit successfully appealed the county’s assessed value of the property.
The Lompoc Theatre Project was incorporated as a public benefit nonprofit in October 2012 and has a nine-member board of directors.