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Fillmore Heritage Center up for sale

February 24, 2017

by San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce President Frederick E. Jordan

The Fillmore Heritage Center, considered to be the last vestige of Black culture in the Fillmore District, once known as the “Harlem of the West,” has been put up for sale. The Request for Proposals (RFP) by the City and County of San Francisco was issued on Feb. 10, 2017.

The Fillmore Heritage Center in its glory days: This is opening night for Yoshi’s Jazz Club, on Nov. 27, 2007. – Photo: Mina Pahlevan, New Fillmore

The property, located at Fillmore and Eddy Streets, previously housed Yoshi’s San Francisco restaurant, Yoshi’s Jazz Club, the 1300 Restaurant, a jazz art gallery and a theater. The minimum bid is $6.5 million, which will be balanced by a competitive business plan and community benefits. Bids are due April 3, 2017, to a Selection Board headed by Dr. Amos Brown.

The Fillmore Center Development that includes the portion that is now for sale was developed by Michael Johnson, an African American developer, for $80.5 million to include 80 condominiums above the Heritage Center. The Center includes 50,000 square feet of commercial space and a 50,000-square-foot garage.

The 28,000-square-foot Yoshi’s Restaurant and Jazz Club declared bankruptcy and closed its doors in 2014, but the 1300 Restaurant is still in operation. Upon Yoshi’s closure, a 15-member predominantly Black investor group led by Johnson took over the newly named “Addition,” but they couldn’t save the Yoshi’s entertainment venue.

A series of community meetings were conducted with an outraged African American community in 2015 and 2016 primarily sponsored by the City and Supervisor London Breed. This development is in Breed’s supervisorial district.

Most of community meetings, separately organized by the City, NAACP, San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Committee to Preserve the African American Heritage Center and the Black Political Association of California (BAPAC), are demanding that the Heritage Center remain in Black ownership.

It was standing room only the night this photo was taken inside Yoshi’s. When crowds began to thin, Yoshi’s, whose older club is still going strong in Oakland, closed its doors in the Fillmore.

In some of the meetings, proponents are demanding that the City turn over the property to the Black Community for a dollar and repay HUD out of the $320 million it gets for free from the hotel tax annually. So far, the City has ignored these demands.

Extensive teaming in the Black business community is being conducted in back rooms and local restaurants. Agonafer Shiferaw, former owner of neighboring Rasseles Jazz Club and Restaurant, is the most profiled contender. Ayende of Black Star Investments claims to have some of the top Black developers in the country in his group. Alan Dones, Oakland’s eminent Black developer, currently leading the development of the $500 million Seventh Street BART Station, has also shown interest in the project.

The next tour of the facility is 9:30 a.m. on March 8, 2017, and is open to bidders anywhere in the world.

Fred Jordan, who heads a world-renowned engineering firm and is president and chair of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, can be reached.at SFACC, 1006 Webster St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-749-6400 or fredjordan@fejordan.com.

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