Compatriotas, we’re about to go another round with the former Asociación Borinqueña building, now Acacia Banquet Hall. In mid-June building owner Acacia Network announced through its Orlando representative Carlos Nazario that it was putting the building up for sale.
“The coronavirus has made it a very challenging environment to continue doing business, with distancing and other regulatory rules limiting how you can conduct your business,” he wrote on Facebook.
The iconic building with the famous garita or sentry box had been in the hands of Acacia Network since 2014, when it bought the building’s $1 million note from Fifth Third Bank avoiding foreclosure. Acacia has poured big money into the building – from repaving the parking lot to installing a commercial kitchen, plus other badly needed repairs.
From all appearances Acacia Network – Nazario and wife Mildred Nazario – were good stewards of the building in east Orange County that so many Puerto Ricans here hold dear. A place of many meetings, gatherings and good food.
Acacia Network’s ownership was a welcome reprieve from years of bad management, bad finances and not to mention plenty of chismes. They have been six peaceful years.
But here we are, about to go another round on the building. “Otra vez?” complained commenters on Facebook. Not again.
Immediately after Nazario’s Facebook post, a call went out to form a group to “save El Centro Borinqueño.” It already has a new name. “Salvemos este patrimonio de la comunidad. Unidos somos más fuertes,” wrote Jimmy Torres-Vélez, a community organizer. Let’s save this patrimony of the community. United we are stronger, he wrote.
The building reportedly is priced at $3 milllion – or $2 million more than the original bank note. “Tendrás que reunir 300 personas con diez mil dólares,” wrote Karen Díaz de Suárez, a well-connected local. You’d have to collect $10,000 each from 300 people. “Lamentablemente eso será un problema bien grande.” Unfortunately, that would be a big problem, she added.
If it took a group from New York to put up $1 million in 2014, not sure where a local group is going to get $3 million, especially in a coronavirus economy. The Puerto Rican community is culturally rich but asset and cash poor.
What would a $3 million mortgage bring? And so the beloved building with the sentry box – a lookout box that has no windows, by the way – may once again become an albatross around the neck of the Puerto Rican community, a weighted reminder of many past mistakes with this building.
˜˜María Padilla, Editor