The renovation of a downtown San Luis Obispo landmark building on the 1100 block of Morro Street has caused concern for several people who have close ties to the property.
The Lunacy Club, LLC, took ownership of a multi-use property on Morro Street in downtown SLO on April 1. Soon after acquiring the rights to the building, the group began handing out eviction notices to tenants and later began demolition of the interior and exterior of the property, which included tearing down a mural that was recently given a Downtown Beautification Award.
Longtime tenant Aaron Stireman said he was rudely awoken by the sound of a jackhammer in early April. Stireman claims he didn’t receive any notice of eviction or construction.
Shortly after inquiring about the construction, the resident said the new owners’ workers used “scare tactics” in an attempt to get him out of the building. Now, the SLO local is squatting in the building during construction.
Kimberly Walker of The Lunacy Club and owner of the Granada Bistro said: “These allegations are just ridiculous. There were no surprises here.
“Aaron is a bouncer; I don’t think that he
is intimidated or being strong-armed,” Walker continued. “He’s refusing to communicate
Walker went on to say that the new owners attempted to talk with every tenant personally, offered group meetings, and even printed handouts on comparable properties and information on low-income housing in SLO.
The one thing Walker and Stireman agree on is that Stireman hasn’t paid rent in more than a year. Stireman claims he informed the past owners about mold and exposed electrical lines in his room and told them he wouldn’t pay rent until those items were fixed. When The Lunacy Club took over the building, it inherited the associated problems—including Stireman.
In an effort to help speed up the process, The Lunacy Club gave Stireman a three-day notice of eviction and later filed a summons for him to appear in court.
Stireman filed a counter suit and plans on representing himself in court.
But it’s not just the residential tenants who are complaining.
Neal Breton, owner of San Luis Art Supply, which is also in the building, said there’s been no communication on the part of the establishment to inform him when things happen.
“The big issue with them is that I feel like I’m on their time; I feel like I’m
being called into the principal’s office,” Breton said.
Breton claims he found out about the renovation when he heard construction workers chipping away at his exterior wall, which was painted with an award-winning mural.
Walker said the mural was a cool piece of graffiti, but wasn’t in line with the vision for the restoration of the property. She added that they plan on restoring the building to its original brick façade.
“There’s nothing appealing about having another brick building in downtown,” Breton said.
Walker said the plans for the completed renovation are to either turn it into a boutique hotel or apartments that are nicer than the previous ones.