SF's Phelan Building Tosses Jewelers Out After 100 Years

Christine Dhein, I am so sorry to hear this news, it grieves me
greatly. I attended only one class at Revere, but it is the high
point of my jewelry path and I always planned to return. I know there
are hundreds ofothers like me who feel displaced no matter how great
or small our connection with Revere Academy is. I loved my time
there, loved your space, thebuilding and how Revere Academy is now
the first thing I think of when I think of San Francisco. All with
fond memories and the desire to spend more time both in your city and
at your marvelous facility. Is there anything we can do? Thank you
for keeping us informed. Now our best wishes are with you in your
search for a suitable new location. With great sadness,

Nancy Montgomery

Dear Christine Dhein:

As a small independent jeweler since 1988, I would like to stand by
in solidarity with you and all of the jewelers mentioned in this

May I suggest that you send us all the contacts of the tenants and
future tenants such as Sears Hoilding so that we all will be able to
petition them on your behalf?

We must stand in solidity or the big corporations will kill all of
the mom and pop business’ across this country.

We must threaten to Boycott all major corporations that are harmful
to small independent business. SHOP LOCAL should be the mantra

Paul Christopher Abood, G. G.

Dear Christine,

As a young apprentice in Sausalito I am very familiar with the
Phelan building. This news is just sickening!

Is there any legal action you can take? I suppose even if there was
it would be so unpleasant to work in such an oppressive atmosphere. I
am still stunned and saddened and like most all the rest of you,
feel rather helpless.

Please keep me apprised if there is anything I can do.
Tracy Johnson

Christine, Alan, John and JoAnn, et al,

It is beyond heart breaking to see and read about this cold hearted
action taken by Thor. The assurance that the ninth floor would
remain, the encouraging other tenants to relocate to the ninth floor
at their own expense, then cold heartedly evicting them is a
scenario begging for a story to be written and televised. Would be
difficult to get folks to believe it is non-fiction.

Doesn’t anyone in this wide expanse of influence know a TV
personality, producer, media person not afraid of his/her job well
enough to ask for some publicity? Consumers advocate, jewelry loving
attorney, or even contact a celebrity client to ask for a public
awareness campaign. It does not appear as if there was adequate time
for any joint effort to be planned. Swearing tenants to secrecy
while signing leases sounds like blatant blackmail to me.

This is not the time to react emotionally, this is a time to
communicate with one another, speak of strategy, check out what the
legal side says about terminating a lease, seems to be far to one
sided easy. I know most involved feel they individually have done
their best, and are licking their wounds. Is there a San Francisco
politician who may look into the situation?

Negatively targeting new tenants is stinking thinking. What or how
can that help? Buying a building sounds great, but can it be a
reality? How many of the dispossessed are in a position to do so? I
feel very sad for all involved. I feel angry reading William Elkins
comments. I would love to see him take his “sour grapes” off of this
list, as he questions why he received Christine’s email, I question
why he is receiving any. IMHO

Teresa Masters

Considering the history and indented purpose of the building, is it
too late to have it declared a historic building, and or going
through the UN (offices in SF) to have it a historic site or what
ever they call it? At this point it most likely too late given they
have already ripped out the marble and such. It just makes me very
sad to see it gone from what it was. Even with a leg brace and the
power out, I marveled at the marble and iron work of the stairs
climbing down from the ninth floor one Sunday night.

Aggie in Florida with a cold snap evening.

Hi David,

I’m in the bay area as well, although not involved in the Phelan
Building mess except as a saddened observer.

For those suggesting buying a building, please take a look at the
price of buildings in downtown SF.

The Phelan building’s last disclosed sale price (2007) was $115
million (bundled with another building of 1/3 the size). That was the
folks who had it before Thor bought it. Thor probably paid less, due
to the market tanking, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t less than $60

In researching that, I discovered that Thor is really operated by a
guy out of NYC, called Joseph Sitt. Just FYI.

article here: http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7ztp

By way of illustration, the other side of the duplex I’m renting
sold last year in a short sale for somewhere north of $350,000. For
a 40 year old, single floor, 1500 sqft duplex, in the middle of
suburbia. Welcome to California.

So much as I wish the Phelan folks well, and I’m genuinely
distraught about what’s going on up there, the odds of buying a
building anywhere desirable are very, very slim, barring somebody
with exceedingly deep pockets.


My girlfriend is experiencing a similar situation with her 25 year
old Law office suite, with another real estate investment company.
I’m beginning to wonder if corporate cultures can possess anti-social
traits. Thor Equitys certainly lacks the glue that binds real human
relationships- loyalty, empathy and ethical responsibility.

How can we help? Please keep us in the loop about plans for Revere
Academy. The school is an international institution, with a
remarkable reputation for passing on the that prospective
jewelers need, and for turning out accomplished jewelers. This is
devastating for our ‘community’ of jewelry makers.

Of course, this is not the first time that investors and tenants have
clashed, and it will not be the last time either. People who work
with their hands never have the clout to counter the assaults that
’suits’ can mount. Money talks.

Linda Kaye-Moses

it just sounds like the company that owns the building found a more
profitable use of their property. 

Ah, the heartless side of capitalism. This attitude is the same one
that exports American jobs to Mexico, China, etc., as we slowly turn
into a third-world country.

Judy Bjorkman

This really upsets me but I'm not surprised because I saw it
coming. I have been in the Phelan Building for 24 years. I spent
more time in that building than in my own home and so did everyone
else who had a studio there, so it was home and everyone a family
member. We worked together contributing and completing each other.

Yes, Vasken and many of the rest of us knew this day was coming. The
word was that it might be another five years, is part of it. I’ll
address many of the comments - ofwhich there ARE many - in one swell
foop: This building has been a jewelry center for around a hundred
years. As Vasken said, it has been one-stop shopping for jewelers
all of that time. There is a little retail, but mostly it’s been for
the trade - manufacturers, diamond and colored stone dealers,
setters, etc. The point is not that we are whining about having to
move, as what’s his name said, it’s that it’s as though Detroit got
bombed, taking out the auto industry all at once. It’s a local issue
mostly, yes, but that is the reason for the outrage, notthat we each
need to pack up.

This IS a historic building, and for those of you unfamiliar, it’s
an especially beautiful building, too. It’s most of an entire block,
eleven floors, 25,000 square feet per floor. Being a historic
building only means that the exterior can’t be touched, not the
interior. Since Thor bought the building there has beena clause
inserted into the leases that allow them to give notice to vacate.
At first it was 120 days, then ours went down to 60 days and some
have 30 days. Otto Frei was 30 days and they have to vacate by
Jan.10th. Next Friday is their last day of business in SF. If you
didn’t sign the lease with the clause you didn’t get a lease and
you’d have a couple of weeks to vacate. This is the whole point, and
it is entirely legal as lawyers have pointed out.

Alan Revere put out a press release, which is this thread on Orchid.
I don’t know who all he sent it to but it was a lot more than just
Orchid. Jo-Ann wrote to our ex-mayor who is now lieutenant governor,
because we knew his wife when shehad a room here. Also the current
mayor, the newspaper, our city councilman, etc, and etc. There was
talk of picketing and there is much talk of malicious mischief that
has been only talk, thankfully. The bottom line is that this
building is private property and the leases and notices to vacate
are entirely legal.

That they are morally evil is another matter to ponder. Our leasing
agent who is pre-Thor and on our side as much as she is able to be
told me the other day what this building sold for and I forget
exactly now but it seems like she said $175 million. The building we
are moving into a block away was bought for $4million 20 years ago -
today it’s gotta be $75mil. We have janitorial service, security,
engineering and building management, not to mentioned utility bills
and what have you. Probably around a million a year in expenses,
which requires cash or at least cash flow. Years ago when this
building came up for sale for something like $20 million there wasa
loose coalition of tenants who wanted to buy it. They were convinced
of the folly of their ways mostly by my old boss, the late Jesse
Linzer. Some of us are well to do and some are even outright wealthy
but even together we just aren’t in that financial league. That’s the
realm of billionaires or billionaire companies, like Thor.

Me, I choose my battles. This place is finished, it’s time to move
on. I don’t like it, I’m angry about the
cash-and-only-cash-who-cares-about-people attitude that caused the
world economy to fall, among other things. Myjob is to run a
business, and I started thinking about how to do that BEFORE the
notices came. The atmosphere here is toxic, there’s a confontational
attitude between tenants and management that you can cut with a
knife, and I’m just going to devote my resources to my own survival.
Standing up and beating one’s chest with indignation has been done by
several, and that can be very satisfying, but there is no hope of
success in any legal arena. This place is finished, it’s just not
over yet.We shall endure and our new place down the street has a core
of jewelers taking a whole floor. My feeling is that it will become
what the Phelan Building once was, given time.

Here’s an adderess for Thor Equities for those inclined to contact
them below… By the way, those who have been asked to leave included
three law firms (who re-examined the leases), psychologists & family
therapists,hair salon, chiropractor, world relief international
non-profit and oh yes, The Phelan Family Trust- aka Alice Phelan
Sullivan Corp. Thor Equities: Thor Equities, LLC is located at: 25
West 39th St., New York, NY 10018 Phone: (212) 529-5055 | Fax: (212)
460-9243 Email: info@thorequities.com CEO is Joseph J. Sitt

Ciao, Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan

Dear Orchid

It’s a mystery to me why there is so much surprise that the owners of
the Phelan building care nothing about the traditions and history of
the building (let alone the individuals who lost their studios). The
only people who matter any more in this country are those at the very
top (who care only about how much money they can wring out of their

Sally Pataky

Ok I got over 100 emails about the Revere School getting tossed- I
don’t live in San Fran - can’t do anything about it, and am
wondering where their lawyers are, particularly if they had a lease.
Even in the land of San Francisco everything isn’t peace and love and
grooviness any more Why on earth does that surprise anyonee Didn’t
the school’s board of directors notice a new owner or corporate
acquisition happening around them? Sorry but as a former
international business counselor I have a hard time having a lot of
sympathy for a space. Perhaps those of you that are attached to the
building for some reason may have a reason to hate to see it go- but
it simply means they didn’t have a long-term lease clause in place
and trusted some corporate oriented type with their building’s
management. If they have a lease it seems the acquisitior may have
to pay them off to leave the site, or they didn’t read the contract
all that well. but please We Know Already! And What is it you would
collectively like Orchideans to do? If Anything?..rer

When I received the email about the Phelan building I read it with a
saddened heart and then I emailed it to the Today show. I have no
idea whether anything will happen with it but it can’t hurt.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have several areas where there are artist
communities and they include a wide variety of artists not just
jewelers. I had hoped one day to be able to take classes at Revere. I
hope they along with some of the other jewelry related business find
a home where they can control what happens to the building and make a
new jewelers community again. It probably won’t be with a building as
phenomenal as the Phelan but it could be a thriving community. I
can’t imagine what a company would strip out historic marble and
wood. Those things are an asset. Perhaps they should have turned it
into high end condominiums. Perhaps then some parts of the building
might have been spared for the artists. Keep us informed. My thoughts
are with you.

Pat Gebes

Jo-Ann and John,

Clearly for you two, rational thinking has replaced any emotional
time you allowed. Happy you have a new home, and will move forward.
Eventually, most will. Never comfortable being shafted, venting for
a while works, but in the end, positive actions must be taken.

I know you will make this a new home. Enjoy.


How can we help? Please keep us in the loop about plans for Revere
Academy. The school is an international institution, with a
remarkable reputation for passing on the that
prospective jewelers need, and for turning out accomplished jewelers.
This is devastating for our ‘community’ of jewelry makers.

Of course, this is not the first time that investors and tenants
have clashed, and it will not be the last time either. People who
work with their hands never have the clout to counter the assaults
that ‘suits’ can mount. Money talks.

Linda Kaye-Moses

Address for Thor: Contact - Thor Equities ESP

And people questioned why the Occupy Wall Street event occurred.
This slow but methodical corporate servitude to money for the sake
of money has beendestroying us for over 32 years. This is the whole
reason I took up fabricating jewelry as a hobby. Because I wanted to
make something with my hands while in this day in age it has become
more accepted to trade pieces of paper back and forth to each other
while performing tax evasion.

Sorry to hear about the building in San Fran. They way they just
instantly invented processing fees to collect rent is telling.

Rick Powell

After all is said & done a landlord can do as they like. They can
obviously get a heck of a lot more money from large corporate IT
companies than a lot of small firms.

The notion of having everyone buy the building is a little far
fetched. Most are small firms, getting multi million dollar loan is
hardly something they probably could do.

For Revere Academy the problem (along with other jewelers) is
getting a building that’s zoned for in the office gas usage & water.

Sad part of course is the heritage but convenience. One building
with so many jewelry firms in one place.

Obviously for the IT forms there is no fiscal cliff.

I wish them all the best.

David Geller

Hello John and Jo-Ann,

Thanks for the fuller explanation of the Phelan Building’s situation
regarding the loss of the “jewelry center.” Obviously the tenants
are justifiably frustrated and therefore, angry. This is an example
of an ethical break-down in the pursuit of $$$.

I’m glad that you are making lemonade from your lemon of a situation
and look forward to the creation of a new and improved ‘jewelry

Judy in Kansas, where rain fall last night, but hardly enough to collect.
Still dry, dry, dry.