Above: NOC's former headquarters, center-right featuring the grey paneling, on the day of the fire this April.
By Eric Roper and Erin Golden
Local nonprofit Neighborhoods Organizing for Change launched a fundraiser Thursday to buy the land beneath their former headquarters -- gutted in a blaze this spring -- in order to rebuild.
The effort marks the second business that is determined to stay at their former West Broadway location following the massive fire, which city officials now believe may have been intentional.
Construction code services manager Al Olson said Wednesday that the building containing the city's oldest grocery store, Brix Grocery & Meat, will remain standing as the owner develops plans to rehab. It was previously unclear whether the city would allow Brix's owner to proceed.
But unlike Brix, it appears NOC's 110-year-old building at 911 West Broadway won't be saved. Olson said Wednesday that permits to demolish the building have cleared initial approvals and wrecking will likely begin next week. 909 and 913 West Broadway will also be demolished.
Anthony Newby, NOC's executive director, said his group has a tentative agreement with the property owner to buy the land for $25,000 -- if NOC can raise that amount. The group launched an online fundraising campaign Thursday morning and had raised nearly $3,000 by late afternoon.
NOC had success with another fundraising campaign immediately after the fire but did not keep the money; the goal of that drive was to raise funds for residents affected by the blaze. The organization ended up giving out $23,000 to 23 residents.
"That was community money -- all online donations -- so we know that the community is following the story and is interested in investing in the long-term growth of the neighborhood," Newby said.
The group hopes that by getting the title to the land it will have more influence over other development plans on the block. But that would be the first step; Newby said the group would then have to launch a larger fundraising campaign and work with community members to plan and build a new headquarters.
For now, NOC is operating out of the offices of another nonprofit group, located two blocks away.
The fundraising drive comes on the heels of news earlier this week that police believe the fire may have been set intentionally. Police have not announced any suspects or motives.
"We're overwhelmed with the knowledge that someone would intentionally burn down the home of our beloved office along with the homes and businesses of dozens of dynamic residents," NOC said in its fundraising plea.
"We're stunned, saddened, and outraged - but NOT intimidated. In fact, we're more determined than ever to invest in our community, rebuild our vibrant block and reclaim our organizing space."