We hate to say it, but the orphaned, quake-damaged Printery building is a big fat albatross around Atascadero’s neck — at least in its present condition.
Because of its historic status, the building cannot be torn down, but it requires so much work — $9 million is the latest estimate — that it’s been tough finding someone willing to take on the restoration.
To add to its troubles, the Printery is among the properties once owned by developer Kelly Gearhart, who is serving 14 years in prison for fraud and money laundering. In an effort to raise funds for Gearhart’s victims, a $17.5 million lien has been placed on the properties Gearhart once owned and are now up for sale, including the Printery.
The building is scheduled to be sold at auction May 12 and, amazingly, there is a group of rescuers willing to make an offer: the Atascadero Printery Foundation.
The lien won’t necessarily be a stumbling block; the U.S. Attorney’s Office is negotiating with the nonprofit group, which is confident the lien will be released. The foundation will still have to meet the minimum bid of $228,300. So far, it’s raised $40,000, but an anonymous angel is willing to loan the organization the balance.
We’re crossing our fingers. The stately brick landmark has gone through so much — among other indignities, it’s been the target of vandals and was boarded up to prevent more damage — that it’s now a scary-looking eyesore.
It deserves to catch a break, and we strongly urge the U.S. Attorney’s Office to help make that happen by removing the obstacle imposed by the lien.
Securing the property, though, is only the first step. Rehabilitating the 102-year-old building will be a big task. We commend the Atascadero Printery Foundation for taking it on.
If you’re interested in helping, or you want to learn more about the Printery building and its history, the foundation would love to hear from you. Reach the group at www.AtascaderoPrintery.org.
Historic places in San Luis Obispo County
The Atascadero Printery is one of 37 historic properties in San Luis Obispo County listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here are some others:
▪ Atascadero City Hall
▪ Ah Louis Store, San Luis Obispo
▪ Arroyo Grande IOOF Hall
▪ Caledonia Adobe in San Miguel
▪ Carrizo Plain Rock Art
▪ Dana Adobe, Nipomo
▪ Eight Mile House, Santa Margarita
▪ Guthrie House, Cambria
▪ Halcyon Historic District
▪ Hearst Castle
▪ Jack House, San Luis Obispo
▪ Mission San Miguel
▪ Monday Club, San Luis Obispo
▪ Montebello, shipwreck and remains off coast of Cambria
▪ Myron Angel House, San Luis Obispo
▪ Octagon Barn, San Luis Obispo
▪ Paso Robles Almond Growers Association Warehouse
▪ San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles Carnegie libraries
▪ San Luis Obispo Light Station
▪ Tribune-Republic Building, 1763 Santa Barbara St., San Luis Obispo