Banning Art Gallery

In October, demolition work will begin on the former Banning Art Gallery.

A derelict apartment building whose downstairs was the former home of the Banning Art Gallery is destined for demolition, to make way for parking.

That two-story building at 128 N. San Gorgonio Ave., next to Super Subs Plus is the property of the city, as the successor agency to the city’s former redevelopment agency.

At the Sept. 8 Banning city council meeting, Banning sealed the property’s doom after approving a contract for $459,151.22 to Orange-based Horizons Construction Company International.

A parcel adjacent to the building was purchased by the city with the intent of combining the next-door building into public parking for up to 35 vehicles just a block away from city hall.

Six electric vehicle-charging stations will be installed.

Horizons Construction Company offered the lowest bid out of five bidders, at $417,410, plus a 10 percent contingency of $41,741.02.

The city will pay for the demolition using bond expenditure agreement accounts.

Diana Benhar, owner of nearby Super Subs Plus, is saddened to see it go, but relieved as well, since she knows that homeless people have been using it as shelter — and homeless people have caused issues for her business.

“I’m sad to see it go, but for safety, it’s probably good,” she said.

Benhar’s family has occasionally cleaned up the adjacent property, and she says she worries about fires being started in the building.

“People are living in there. I feel sorry for them” now that the former art gallery will soon become wide-open space.

“I’m sure it will look nice,” Benhar says. She is under the impression that the parking lot will include sitting areas and tables. The art gallery has since moved into the Oddfellows Building on Ramsey Street.

Carol Newkirk, executive director of the Cultural Alliance, which runs the Banning Art Galley, says “I have fond memories of the building at 128 N. San Gorgonio. This building was home to the Artists in Residence program when the alliance rented it and officially named it the Banning Center for the Arts. It became an anchor for a briefly blooming arts district and the first significant art hop,” referring to a springtime arts and crafts street festival.

According to Newkirk, “The location became challenging near the end of our residence due to limited traffic.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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