Bob White Takeover Hits a Snag, Fight Continues

Snafu. That’s the best way to describe what came between Nick Haas and his goal to buy The Bob White Theatre. It’s what came of a business deal that saw a private financier back away at the last minute.

At this time last week, escrow was near closing and a “changing of the guard” party was being planned for Friday. There may have been a party, but ownership is still solidly under Nick Storie’s name—not Haas’s. But if the younger Nick has a say, the latest snafu won’t deter him. And as such, he’s continuing to grind—and grind some more—until hope and perseverance (and maybe sheer will) call him owner of The Bob White.Bob White

He almost got the title last week, but a business partner backed out of the deal. Now financing again becomes the biggest hurdle.

Call us suckers for an underdog. Or maybe we’re just infected by the amount of passion, sense of history, and vision Haas exudes. And for selfish reasons, we’d also like to think this purgatory-esque chapter of the theater is almost over. (We want a theater, dammit!)

In the end, we don’t know what will come of The Bob White and/or Nick Haas’s attempts to buy it. But we do know this: he’s still fighting. And it appears as if KATU News has heard and will be making a story out of it. Nick Haas has invited the community to show up to the theater tomorrow (Tuesday) night to support the story, as well as to celebrate 91 years since the theater first opened. Tuesday’s event is a free, all-ages affair and will bring movies back for a night. There will be a double feature—Raiders of the Lost Ark and Big Trouble in Little China—starting at 7 pm. Free popcorn for all in attendance; donations go toward purchase and renovation.

Even if you don’t buy into the narrative, a free movie’s a free movie, and I think Nick Haas is trying to give the community what they want. And one point he tries to make clear, he wants The Bob White to be a community venue.

Here is a copy of Haas and The Bob White’s Business Values:

The Bob White Theatre Business Values

We believe our first responsibility is to the community of Portland and to all visitors of our city. Everything we do must be of the highest quality to aid us in constantly striving to reduce our costs in order to maintain reasonable prices.  Customers and performers must be given a one of a kind experience the moment they walk through our doors and leave with memories to last a lifetime.

We must respect and recognize the merit of our employees.  They must have a sense of job security, compensation must be fair and adequate and the working environment must be friendly, clean, orderly and safe.  They must feel free to give feedback and there must be equal opportunity for employment.  We must provide competent management in all areas from booking, accounting, programming, marketing, etc., and their actions must be ethical for the benefit of the community and for the bigger picture of creating memories for generations to come.  Word of mouth is still a great and inexpensive advertising platform.

We are responsible to the community where we live and work, as well as, to the world community.  We must be good citizens, support good works and charities and bear our fair share of taxes.  We must encourage civic improvements and a better Portland.  We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to own while protecting the environment and the natural resources around us.

Our final responsibility is to our investors.  Business must make a sound profit.  We must experiment with new ideas.  Research must be continuous, and mistakes must be resolved. New equipment must be purchased.  A restored, one of a kind facility must be provided. Reserves must be set aside to provide for during adverse times, but we believe 100% in our ability to deliver on all fronts.  When we operate according to these values, the investor should realize a fair return.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

Cool, we’ll just speed into March. It didn’t really feel like winter anyway. Hopefully you’re all set to enjoy your weekend. There are few things locally you can get into, as well as the typical Foster mishaps you might find yourself in. Cheers!

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– Hopefully nobody’s PTSD was triggered by a shooting near Shimmers (at 80th and Foster) and subsequent police chase in the neighborhood Tuesday night, which ultimately led to the suspect hiding out in someone’s backyard and providing the staging ground for a tense standoff. Aside from the suspect, fortunately, nobody was hurt in the hubbub. Kinda unsettling to have the helicopters hovering, streets blocked off, and a “stay inside” order in effect.

– On the brighter side, Big-Ass Sandwiches hopes to move into the ‘Carts on Foster’ pod by March 6. So there’s that….more yummy food.

– Speaking of yummy food: Kim Jong Grillin’ will be slangin’ their eats on Foster this Saturday, as they team up with N.W.I.P.A. for the bottle shop’s Second Annual Triple IPA Fest. You should probably be there. Noon – 10 p.m. this Saturday.

– Foster, for all its faults, continues to get the attention of our beloved weeklies. This week: Above the Rest Homebrewing gets reviewed in the Willy; and the aforementioned N.W.I.P.A. gets a mention, too, in the same paper’s piece on Oregeon’s top ciders.

– For those following the Foster Streetscape Plan, check out our piece from earlier in the week: Foster Streetscape Plan on Track, Not on Time.

– About the Bob White. It sounds like there was a bit of a snafu with plans to secure financing for an ownership change this week. There’s too much potential with that theater, so something will happen. We just don’t know what and when, but it still may look like this (see link) if Nick Haas has his way.

– Oh, and that Portland Mercado thingy you keep hearing about? It’s more than just an idea and bright color scheme. Their grand opening celebration is planned for April 11. Rad, RAD, RADDDDD….

– A little bit of crime, exciting food options and new businesses, beer, more food, more beer, and continued signs of progress and realized potential. I guess that kinda covers Foster in a nutshell.

Here are your weekend happenings:
Starday Tavern- Country Western by the HoneyCuts, Friday; Power-Pop by the Lovely Lost, Saturday
Bob White Theatre- Afro-World Music: Alpha Yaya Diallo, Saturday
N.W.I.P.A.- Triple IPA Fest, Saturday from noon to 10 pm (Kim Jong Grillin’ will be in the house)

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Foster Streetscape Plan On Track, Not On Time

One thing we do know: PBOT would struggle mightily to find a way out of constructing the Foster Streetscape Plan. At least not without pitchforks and torches being brandished on the streets.

We also know—rest assured—there’s funding in place to implement the plan, which was first adopted by the city in 2003, but fell by the wayside due to a lack of funding and, Foster Road Banner:Streetscapepresumably, political will. A few years ago—nearly a decade later—some of that political will appeared to realign with neighborhood activists’ pleas for safety/streetscape improvements after numerous traffic accidents and pedestrian fatalities pushed things to a tipping point. It wasn’t long before the Portland Development Commission offered $2 million of urban renewal funding to get the project moving along. That led to PBOT taking over the project, securing an additional $3 mil in federal grants, and then conducting a year-long process of refreshing the original plan and ensuring neighborhood buy-in to proposed changes—a road diet and bike lanes being the most significant.

That process ended last spring; City Council voted to approve the plan in June.

So where are we now?

Without any updates made public, and little information available about the status of the project, we thought it might be a good idea to check in with PBOT.

So we did.

We were fortunate to get a prompt email response from PBOT Project Manager, Rich Newlands, who gave us an update on where things stand now, as well as a rough timeline for the project’s completion. While we were disappointed to hear that construction won’t start until June, 2016, at the earliest, it was nice to know they haven’t pushed the project aside for something more catering to nicer, more affluent and closer-in neighborhoods.

50's - 72ndOr maybe they have AND maybe they will. But based on Newlands’s email, there’s a process that’s been outlined and a timeline for completion, much of which is tied to complicated funding mechanisms.

Here’s what he said:

“Right now we are gearing up to begin design engineering, which we anticipate to begin in March-April time frame.  This is when we expect to have our design resources available (staffing) and to have an intergovernmental agreement in place with the Portland Development Commission for funding.  If design starts in April, we anticipate to have final plans by mid-spring of next year and construction starting approximately 3 months later (June ’16)…”

In regards to utilizing available resources now and phasing in parts of the project over time as more money becomes available:

“…It’s generally difficult to ‘phase’ construction as suggested with federal funds- authorization of funding is strictly sequential- first we give you design engineering funds (which can only be used for design engineering purposes), only have the design has been approved by FHWA with the associated environmental clearances in place, and only then will we give you construction dollars.  This is not to say impossible when there is another funding source (PDC) but many of the construction items are not as stand alone as you might think (by that I mean can be advanced to construction ahead of other things)…”

And finally:

“…This project will provide a very dramatic change to Foster- exactly what it needs.”

IMG_4842This is all very exciting, though it’s tough to not be discouraged by the need for patience. We’ve been waiting a long time, and it appears we still have a couple years to go. Until then, we can look forward to the Portland Mercado’s opening, as well as a slew of other upgrades to the corridor—Foster Row, restoration of The Bob White, The Foster Window Project, Henry Higgins Bagels, storefront improvements, etc—all of which will provide their own transformative changes.

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The Bob White Theatre Gets its Owner, Money for Renovations

Bob White

What we now know as Bar Carlo, with The Bob White on the end

The Bob White Theatre has existed in a state of limbo for nearly three years. For it was in 2012 that Nick Storie purchased the then-closed theater and offered a vision for the community to rally around—movies, concerts, neighborhood-driven events, and a place to jumpstart Foster’s inevitable rejuvenation. That hope only lasted so long, though, as it soon became apparent that running a theater—booking acts, promoting events, managing operations—was not Mr. Storie’s forte. And this didn’t even take into account the considerable financial needs of the building to pass fire code and meet safety needs—all a very large investment in addition to the building’s purchase. So while Storie’s hopes were great, it wasn’t something that easily came to fruition.

Bob White - slayer

Yes, Slayer is part of the theater’s storied history. Slayer!

It was no wonder, then, that excitement for The Bob White’s rebirth quickly diminished. And after a few successful shows became outnumbered by less successful ones, as well as a revolving door of promoters and managers, the theater offered more question marks than signs of hope. But through the ups and downs, the rotating cast of characters, and Nick Storie’s attempts to sell the building after it proved to be too overwhelming, one act has remained: Nick Haas, the soon-to-be new owner of The Bob White. And while much still remains to be seen, the current hope for theatre’s rebirth now rests on another Nick’s shoulders.

And thus may end the state of limbo.

If all goes according to plan, February 27th will mark the official changing of the guard; the Nick Storie era will give way to the Nick Haas era, and so will end the latter’s grind-it-out, learn-on-the-fly, and wait-and-see approach to taking over the theater. Haas first took over the theater’s management duties nearly a year ago, and since then he’s moved the ball along in his attempt to take the theater off Storie’s hands. To make the theater profitable while he waited, there have been concerts, private parties, wrestling, and a brief dabbling in movies. And while some of that has been underwhelming, the theater has still clung to life. And now that he’ll soon be able to call himself owner, Haas intends to breathe more life into it.

Bob White - lobby

Bob White’s original lobby

We were able to catch up with Haas last week, and we were given a rundown of his battle to secure financing; the challenges of dealing with deadlines, inspectors, and the seller; and his grand plan for the theater, which he exudes so much passion for. While much of the theater’s operation will remain the same over the coming months—wrestling, the occasional concert, and ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’—there are also some significant and exciting changes in the works. With financing in place to make important and needed renovations, the first round of fix-ups and restoration will include the following: installing fire sprinklers, full HVAC overhaul, restoring the front lobby to its 1924 luster (save for an updated bar), and fixing up the marquee and frontage space.

Bob White - marquee and bladeIf plans become reality, a new sign blade (already contracted with the same sign company that did the Hollywood Theater) will sit atop the restored marquee. And because Nick has an appreciation for the theater’s history, expect it to look a lot like it did in the 20’s and 30’s when Foster was bustling. The 32-foot blade will shine, hopefully, sometime this spring. And the marquee beneath, in restored fashion, should make it clear what the schedule of events is.

About that schedule. Tentative plans call for the theater to resume a pretty active schedule around April. At that point, movies will air on Tuesdays and Thursdays; Wednesdays will open the theater for free jam sessions; and Fridays and Saturdays will bring concerts. Movie nights will offer films covered in the Criterion Collection license, and there’s word that initial concert bookings may bring some well-known acts to the neighborhood (Rusted Root may be back, John Scofield might be booked, Scott Pemberton, and perhaps a participating venue for the Soul’d Out Music Festival?). To go along with new signage, a restored lobby, musical acts booked, and a movie license for films, a new bar will serve drinks and (per OLCC rules) “substantial” food items.

Recent show at The Bob White

Recent show at The Bob White

Ok, sounds like a real theater.

What about the rest? After the first round of renovations—HVAC, fire sprinklers, lobby, and marquee/blade—the new lineup of movies and concerts will carry on through the summer. Sometime in late fall, the theater will shut down to conduct further upgrades. This will include re-plastering the walls and ceiling of the theater, full paint job, expanding the back wall/movie-screen, and perhaps re-upholstering all the seats (if not done sooner). Meanwhile, the Wurlitzer Warehouse will await its big overhaul, too. And even though it’ll take a backseat to the theater’s renovation, it still remains part of the larger plan. The goal for the Wurlitzer still is to become a secondary music venue, but a little more intimate. Or less formal. Bob White, insideMaybe both. The timeline for the Wurlitzer is set for “within three years.” And with that timeline also comes plans for a full service bar and restaurant.

But first thing’s first. The Bob White will soon proclaim its place in Southeast Portland’s live music scene. And with movies to please the locals, the added bonus of booze and food, and a new marquee and blade shining over Foster, maybe, just maybe, we’re realizing some of the hopes we had three years ago when Nick Storie made his bold move to buy the historic theater.

* The first show under new ownership will be: Afro-World Music presents Alpha Yaya Diallo and his band Bafing.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

Weekend shmeekend. We just do this piece to post a video of our choosing on a weekly basis. And coincidentally, there just usually happens to be some news/entertainment/tidbits to share. It’s one thing that rarely gets old here (at least for us, it doesn’t). Have a good weekend, all.

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– Pieper Cafe is off the wagon. Well, not that they were ever on the wagon, but beer and wine will soon be a staple if their OLCC application gets approved. That means you get to do everything you’d normally do at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, but with the added bonus of a beer or glass of wine. Big score for the kid-herders who could use a family-friendly, neighborhood spot where they can have a drink.

– Speaking of coffee shops….maybe Speedboat Coffee is for sale after all. Or maybe it isn’t. But we’re pretty sure it definitely is.

– Performance Works NW (PWNW) has a big show this Saturday, welcoming France-based violinist, Timba Harris, and New York guitarist, Gyan Riley. The show, dubbed Probosci, starts at 8pm and tickets will be sold on a sliding scale ($12-20). For more information, check out PWNW’s website.

– Just to put it on your radar…Nick Haas, for all intents and purposes, can officially be called the new owner of the Bob White Theatre. A changing of the guard will indeed be happening, and big things are in store for the theater. We’ll be sharing more on that next week. Stay tuned…

– Uh, do you ever wonder what exactly happens at the autobody shop (I’d refer to it by name if there was a sign) next to Starday Tavern? You know, the big decrepit building with semis and unlicense-plated cars across the street from Bar Carlo? If anybody has experience with this place, please do share. Inquiring minds want to know.

– Weekend happenings:
Starday Tavern- A Horse Named Glue, Friday; Mr Musu, Saturday
Bar Maven- Steven Kray’s Drop Shop (super heavy funk on the 1’s and 2’s), Saturday night
N.W.I.P.A.- Fat Head’s Head Shrinker DIPA release and meet-the-brewer, Saturday from 6-9 pm.
Performance Works NW- Probosci, Saturday at 8 pm

Have a safe weekend, y’all. Be cool.

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Wait, Speedboat for Sale After All?

Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 9.52.13 PMWe didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. And because we got so much flak for it the first time, we almost didn’t believe it.

But according to RE/MAX Equity Group, Speedboat is back on the market. And by back, we mean, well, maybe they were before—maybe they weren’t—but they definitely are now. (The listing actually says it’s been on the market for 94 days—nearly three months—just about the same time we posted this to correct ourselves the first time. Hmmm?)

In any event, this time we checked. And, indeed, the owner has confirmed the listing.

So, sorry for teasing you all before. But bidding now appears to be open again.

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