Children’s Theater letter

To the Editor of The Northwest Examiner,

The January letter by Gordy Allen states baseless concerns about the possible sale of the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center.  Mr. Allen, a member of this board, distorts the effort of the Northwest Children’s Theater & School to preserve the building at 1819 NW Everett.

The objectives of the Children’s Theater in seeking to purchase the building and related parking lot are to raise funds to preserve the historic building and to assure a continued home for the Children’s Theater, its school, other nonprofit tenants and other community access.  If sufficient funds are not raised within 6 years for those purposes, or the building is not improved to modern seismic requirements within 9 years, title to the building would revert to the seller.

The financial consideration for the transfer is not nominal.  It would be $100 plus the cost of improving the building.  The theater must raise and spend $10.4 million in order to make the building improvements.  Without this, it is likely the building will eventually fall into disrepair and will be lost as a community asset.  No other plan for saving the building has been advanced by Mr. Allen or, to my knowledge, anyone else.

Mr. Allen contends that the building should be valued as if it will fall into such disrepair that the City would allow it to be demolished and then the land could be sold for another use.  That would happen only if the NNCC board, as current owners of the building, doesn’t perform its obligation to save the building for the benefit of the community.  The majority of Mr. Allen’s board has recognized that the only identified way for the seller to fulfill its obligations to the community is to sell the building to the Children’s Theater so that it can be saved.

Mr. Allen is concerned that the current or future board of the NNCC would waive the requirement for improving the building.  This disregards the requirement that the obligation to improve the building would be part of both a purchase and sale agreement and a covenant recorded against the land at closing.  It also disregards a reversion of the title to seller if the buyer doesn’t perform its responsibilities, and the fact that this transaction can proceed only if the NNCC community members approve the sale by a two thirds vote.  Counsel for the NWCT has advised that any significant amendment of the agreement or covenant would also require a two thirds vote of the seller’s members, not just its board.  Moreover, the only reason the Children’s Theater is willing to take on this substantial effort is to enlist the community in saving the building by making required improvements, not avoiding them.

The discussions between a majority of the NNCC board and the NWCT board have been conducted in good faith over many years.  Each board has been motivated by the best interests of the community.  Each has been represented by counsel to assure that its interests are protected.

After all these years, Mr. Allen has suggested that the NWCT should have only an option to purchase the property instead of a transfer of title subject to the risk of title reversion if the funds aren’t raised or the improvements are not made.  This was discussed and rejected years ago as not feasible.  NWCT cannot raise the needed funds if it doesn’t own the building.

The members of NNCC will soon have the right to decide whether this transaction should be approved.  They should make this decision based on the mission of NNCC :  “The mission of the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center is to preserve and protect the physical building located at 1819 NW Everett Street as an iconic and valuable resource and a symbol of what makes Northwest Portland unique; to promote the use of the building as a community oriented and cultural asset which contributes to the enrichment of the surrounding urban neighborhoods; and to maintain as a cultural center and performing arts venue.”


Carolyn Sheldon

President, Northwest Children’s Theater & School