CFAH

HardingTheater

From the San Francisco Examiner:

A plan that would have largely gutted the historic Harding Theater and replaced it with retail stores and condos faces a setback after officials sided with dozens of people who asked for a more extensive review process.

The 75-year-old theater has been vacant for about five years….Owners of the building, near Divisadero and Hayes streets, are seeking approval of a plan that would leave the façade and elements of the interior intact, but replace much of the theater with retail, along with an eight-unit condo complex.

Friends of 1800, a neighborhood preservation group, appealed the Planning Department’s [Mitigated Negative Declaration] and asked the Planning Commission for a full review. At Thursday’s hearing, most speakers supported the appeal and all seven commissioners agreed, deciding a full environmental review of the project is due before any further decisions are made.

And from a plugged-in reader:

I live around the corner…and I want the damn thing gone. There are enough struggling small independent theaters around here that adding one more to the pile isn’t going to help.

What divis needs is some new business growth, especially in the hayes to fulton section.

The problem is that those of us who would prefer to see it go aren’t saying anything to anyone.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by FSBO

    Yet another example of NIMBYism and misguided activism gone wild. I like the claim of wackos at Friends of 1800 that the theater must be preserved because of its link to the silent film era. The Harding opened in 1926 and one year later in 1927 the Jazz Singer was released as the first synchronized talking film. The silent film era ended about 10 minutes later. Wow, that’s some legacy that must be preserved at all costs – including the cost of keeping new construction as expensive as possible. The developer bought this property 5 years ago for $1.6M. Why bother trying to build here? Even a watered down plan that has the support of the Green party supervisor can’t get passed.

  2. Posted by bdb

    I live round the corner from this, and I want this fixed up and looking nice, it’s just an eyesore now, and it would be nice to have it cleaned up.
    Esp with the Divisadero Street Improvement supposed to start.
    http://www.sfgov.org/site/sfdpw_page.asp?id=69849

  3. Posted by rr

    I live around the corner too, and I want the damn thing gone. There are enough struggling small independent theaters around here that adding one more to the pile isn’t going to help.
    What divis needs is some new business growth, especially in the hayes to fulton section.
    The problem is that those of us who would prefer to see it go aren’t saying anything to anyone.

  4. Posted by Jonathan

    Perhaps if the Examiner reporter, Katie Worth, had done her research she would have discovered that the plans for the Harding include saving almost all of the historical material, ornament and space in the building. In addition, the developer has agreed to recreate the marquee and blade sign from the 1930’s that was demolished in the 70’s. It is typical of sloppy reporting to focus on the immediate and sensational, not the actual intent of the long range plan

  5. Posted by invented

    I say build 28 condos, not a limp gesture of 8. We need it, we want it, and don’t buy into the moldering decaying infrastructure all around. I too am homeowner nearby; the NOPA/ASP community demands this move forward.

  6. Posted by zzzzzzzzz

    Will this be affected by Prop J? I would imagine a newly empowered Landmarks Board would go out of its way to protect this theater in all its dilapidated glory and prevent any rational reuse of the building.

  7. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    If this were converted to condos, would new windows be cut into the facade ? I imagine this could be done tastefully. But I can also imagine this done schlocky.
    The goals for projects like this should be to preserve as much as reasonable while converting the structure into a usable valuable property. Too often conversions only address the latter.

  8. Posted by David Mercanus

    A big player here is the Independent nightclub, which drummed up a lot of support to stop any development on that site. They think it will hurt their business – being forced to quiet down. I heard the owner brag that he started the “grassroots group” to Save the Harding back in 04 or 05.

  9. Posted by EH

    The problem with Divisadero and trying to have a neighborhood there is that the street is a freeway.

  10. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    The problem is that those of us who would prefer to see it go aren’t saying anything to anyone
    Why aren’t you? You need to show up at some of these community planning meetings and make your views known. If you can bring along a neighbor or two, even better.

  11. Posted by bdb

    Interesting comment there about the Independent..
    But if you are buying a place next to a concert venue surely you would have to know.
    Makes sense though.

  12. Posted by NoeNeighbor

    The entire argument has been absurd. As noted, the developer was willing to preserve the most important historic aspects of the Harding. But the preservationists insisted that the stage be preserved even thought that means that development will be impossible. No explanation is given as to why a particular stage is so important. The Harding reminds me of all those theatres along Mission. They are never again going to be used as theatres, so why is so much effort being put into preserving every last one of them. The neighborhood would be much better without these decaying hulks and it is impossible to see how anybody is getting any benefit out of their continued “preservation”.

  13. Posted by paco

    amen.
    constriction of supply is like throwing up trade barriers; and the outcome has been similar in that it allows the old noncompetitive entities to survive
    while discouraging the new entrants.
    its likely due to the fact that the old line landlords are burdened by rent control while any new (post ’78) construction is exempt…

  14. Posted by inmybackyard

    I too live around the corner and would like nothing more than to see this project move forward. It is interesting to hear of the argument from the Independent Theater point of view. I enjoy concerts at the Independent and value the theater as a cultural institution. And I could see how being made to ‘turn down’ the noise might be problematic for the Independent. But, as well the new project could respond to the nightclub next door with additional acoustic buffering. It is maddening to me to see a reasonable project proposal using a decaying historic resource and breathing new life into it, delayed for additional bureaucratic review. Let this project move forward! NOPA demands it.

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