More than a month after nearly 200 tenants had their leases terminated at Cambridge’s EMF building, a few of them are continuing to fight to preserve - in some way or another - their former art spaces.

Last month, several former tenants submitted a “Protected Land Petition” to the Cambridge Historical Commission. In it, they ask the city to designate the EMF building as a historic landmark.

“There is historical value to that building,” said Steve Onderick, one of the former tenants who has been working to save the former EMF building since his lease was terminated.

The EMF building was a collection of music practice spaces and artist lofts located at 116 Brookline St. in Central Square, down the street from the Middle East Nightclub.

Earlier this year, the current landlord and building owner John DiGiovanni and his company - Trinity Property Management – terminated the tenants’ leases. DiGiovanni told WGBH News he planned to rehab the building.

Since tenants were told to be out of EMF, they have been fighting to not only keep their spaces but preserve the building. Now a handful of former tenants want the building designated as an historic landmark.

The City of Cambridge defines a landmark as a “place, structure, feature, or object that has been designated by the City Council as historically or architecturally significant by itself or because it is associated with events, persons, or trends significant in the history of the City.”

The designation does not protect buildings from demolition or redevelopment. In fact, the designation only extends to visible changes to the outside of the building.

According to Charles Sullivan, executive director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, even if a building is designated as a protected landmark, the commission doesn’t control what’s changed inside that building – it also doesn’t have a say in how the building is used and who uses it.

Harvard University Professor and historian Suzanne Blier drafted EMF’s “Protected Land Petition.”

Blier is the president of the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association (HSNA), an organization she founded a year-and-a-half ago partially to address preservation in Harvard Square. She met some former EMF tenants at an Association meeting when they presented their case for preserving the EMF building from demolition.

“When I learned that these artists were being forced out of their structure, it disturbed me,” wrote Blier in an email to WGBH. “I volunteered the six plus hours it took to do the research and write the petition because I believe this [is] an important vernacular architectural example worthy of preservation.”

EMF’s “Protected Landmark Petition” is three pages long. It explains the history of the building – from its start as an electrical and motor company to its transition to music and art spaces over a decade ago.

The petition argues the building’s past adds to its historical value, and that is one reason it should be protected. The petition also argues the building’s current use as music and art spaces adds value to the community.

The petition also lists the threats the building faces -- namely its redevelopment and potential demolition.

After EMF tenants were told to be out of the building by the end of April, some of them appealed to the city of Cambridge. City officials, some of the tenants and DiGiovanni went back and forth for weeks, to determine if they could come to some conclusion that would allow artists to maybe stay in EMF.

The city even threw around the idea of purchasing EMF from DiGiovanni, who extended the month-to-month lease by an extra month, giving stranded artists until May 31 to find new spaces.

A fire inspection report commissioned by the city showed the building was potentially unsafe in its current condition - it also noted the potential existence of asbestos on the property.

The end of May came and went and most of the EMF tenants left without fanfare.

According to former tenant Steve Onderick, a couple tenants remained at EMF claiming they had a right to stay in their room. Trinity Property Management had all the locks at EMF changed at the beginning of June. Onderick says the group took shifts, ensuring at least one person was in the room at a given time. This also allowed that person to prop open the building’s doors so the next shift could enter the building without being locked out.

Onderick says eventually the matter ended up in housing court when Trinity Property Management sent a summons to the tenants remaining in the room. Watertown attorney Richard Pareles represented the tenants challenging their lease terminations.

“I took on the case because I thought there were housing law violations,” Pareles said.

These alleged violations included things like “breach of quiet enjoyment” and “improper notice to quit,” according to Pareles.

These violations were presented, but the case never made it past the summary court phase, according to Pareles. Pareles said Trinity Property Management offered the three tenants $3,000 to leave the building - an offer they accepted.

According to Pareles, aside from further court action being cost prohibitive to the tenants, the potential existence of asbestos in the EMF building would have canceled out further effort by the tenants in court.

“Win or lose, you would get kicked out by the landlord to remove the asbestos,” Pareles said. “The city has a policy about that and would certainly want the asbestos to be removed.”

Currently, there are no tenants still in the building.

DiGiovanni, the president of Trinity Property Management, says no rent payments were made after May 31, and the people that held over at EMF were not tenants, with all tenants vacating the building at the end of the month.

DiGiovanni did not answer any questions pertaining to the tenant dispute in court and did not give further details on what occurred at EMF after May 31 or what's next for the building.

“There seems to be some belief by a very small fraction of the musicians and artists that were in the EMF building that they are entitled to subsidized space to practice their craft,” wrote DiGiovanni in an email statement to WGBH News. “The vast majority of the musicians and artists vacated in accordance with the terms of their tenacity [tenancy] and found new space.”

Protected Landmark Petitions in Cambridge require 10 signatures from registered voters. According to Onderick, EMF’s had 16. The Cambridge Election Commission was only able to verify 14 of those 16 signatures.

Once the petition’s signatures are verified, the Historic Commission holds a public hearing. If the commission, after this hearing, decides to accept the petition, the building comes under the jurisdiction of the city for the next year while the commission considers whether to recommend the petition to the Cambridge City Council. The building will only become protected if the city council accepts a positive recommendation from the commission.

“The fight is not over at this point, is how I feel about it," Onderick said. “John DiGiovanni and Trinity Property Management have a great deal of resources and money, but what I don’t think they have is connections between human beings and people who really care about something and people who really care about establishing community and allowing arts and music to continue to exist.”

EMF’s Protected Landmark Petition lands in front of the city’s Historical Commission, this Thursday, August 9.