Black SF leaders call on City to return Fillmore Heritage Center to community for repair

Community leaders and actor Danny Glover hosted a press conference Monday morning at the defunct Fillmore Heritage Center complex, calling on the city of San Francisco to donate the center to a new nonprofit representing the local community .

The community’s latest call to reclaim the building is framed in light of national discussions on reparations for black communities, and the city’s recently formed Reparations Advisory Committee.

“The Fillmore was the vibrant center of San Francisco’s black community before it was destroyed by inherently racist programs designed to eliminate black families and culture,” said Rev. Amos C. Brown, former city supervisor, pastor of Third Baptist Church and president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP. “Handing over the Fillmore Heritage Center to the local black community is an extremely important first step in righting this immense historic wrong. “

The Fillmore Heritage Center was built in the middle of the last decade and opened in 2007, with Yoshi’s – Oakland’s famous jazz club and restaurant – as the main tenant. The space includes a nightclub / concert hall in the back, as well as a large restaurant space and other smaller spaces – one of which had been occupied by John Coltrane’s Church, until that this organization be evicted for non-payment of rent. There’s also the old 1300 restaurant on Fillmore at the corner of Fillmore and Eddy streets, which has been vacant for three years, and a condo tower above.

Brown and other community leaders are now saying the city should turn over all rental parts of the complex – excluding the residential units – to a nonprofit that can revive it as something the community needs.

“Reparations cannot be limited to large national or statewide actions,” Brown said in a statement. “Structural racism has had a devastating effect on neighborhoods, homes, businesses and daily life, so repairs must also include important actions at the local level. Return the Fillmore Heritage Center to the community to which it belongs by right is exactly that kind of action. “

Brown specifically called on the Mayor of London Breed, who represented the neighborhood as a supervisor before becoming mayor, to initiate the process of transferring ownership.

The race was evasive in its response on Monday, as the Chronicle notes.

“I would like the venue to be open. I would like the venue to become a huge success,” Breed said, according to The Chronicle. “I don’t want the place to continue to be a financial burden on the city. And so that’s one of the things we have to work on, but at the end of the day many guiding principles are how we make good decisions about them and have everything to do with state law.

Breed suggested that it might not be possible under state law to “provide it to the community … without some financial support attached to it to some extent.”

Glover, who attended George Washington High School and said he came to the neighborhood as a child, said Monday: “I was born here and I came here with my dad when there was magic in it. this street ”, and he added that the city“ has not kept their promise ”regarding the revitalization of the neighborhood.

In a statement released about the press event, Glover said, “The leaders of the city of San Francisco have a moral obligation to right the racist wrongs that have destroyed this culture and community and to allow the Fillmore Heritage Center to live up to the full meaning of its name. “

Before the pandemic halted all plans to bring new tenants into the space, while it remained mostly dormant, the center was rented out for a funeral reception in March 2019 which turned violent. The sidewalk shooting, which followed the funeral of local drug leader Ron Newt, injured five people and claimed the life of a 25-year-old man from San Leandro.

In April, the Reported chronicle on a virtual meeting and the two nonprofits that had already secured contracts to revive the space in 2018 – which they tried to do with some 200 events. The main restaurant space, however, has been mostly quiet, with only a few pop-ups and an unsuccessful effort called The bill in the past six years since Yoshi’s shutdown.

As District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston said at the time: “There is a level of acceptance of inaction in city services when it comes to the Fillmore that in my opinion would not be. acceptable in other neighborhoods. It’s the sad truth.

Empty spaces add to the lack of vibrancy in the area – and former 1300 chef on Fillmore David Lawrence has also abandoned a barbecue restaurant he briefly operated across the street called Black Bark BBQ, which opened at the end of 2015 and closed about two years later. This space has been vacant since another restaurant closed last year.

Photo: Mayor’s Office for Economic and Workforce Development

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