May 17, 2011
California synagogue saved from auction block
Congregation Beth David in San Luis Obispo, Calif., was saved from the auction block.
The Reform synagogue in Southern California reached an 11th-hour agreement with Mission Community Bank, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, in its foreclosure proceeding. The details were not disclosed.
The synagogue had been slated for foreclosure Tuesday after defaulting on a $3.3 million bank loan late last year. The bank forgave $1 million of the loan, but the congregation could only raise $2.1 million of the remaining amount, leaving it $200,000 short by the deadline.
Beth David was built in 2005 and became the world’s first LEED-certified synagogue. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building standard that signals a design aimed at minimizing environmental impact and saving natural resources.
The building was constructed on 92 acres, including 62 acres of wetlands and 30 acres that were intended for sale as agricultural land, with the proceeds helping to pay off the bank loan, according to the congregation. But the community was hard hit by the economic downturn, and dues from the 200 member families weren’t enough to keep up with the $18,000 interest-only monthly payments.
On April 19, the congregation launched a nationwide Facebook campaign to help raise the needed funds.
In an April 20 editorial urging community support for the synagogue, the Tribune noted that banks had foreclosed on nearly 200 religious facilities since 2008, up from just eight in the previous two years.