CFAH

HardingTheater

Following years of battling with the Planning Board and preservationists, plans to gut the long shuttered Harding Theater at 616 Divisadero Street and build a mixed-use development with retail behind a restored façade and an eight-unit condo complex behind the theater were abandoned four years ago.

Harding Theater: Developer's Plan

Put on the market for $4,000,000 at the end of 2008, reduced to $3,600,000, and then withdrawn from the market mid-last year, the Harding has been listed anew for $4,200,000 with Bi-Rite and Four Barrel’s The Mill having since opened their doors down the street.

In the words of a local reader, is the neighborhood ready for the Harding’s development and density along Divisadero?

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Frank C.

    Last time, the owners of the Independent organized a “neighborhood” group to oppose any residential development, fearing it would shut them down. So everyone should be aware of this. Obviously with land so valuable, we should have residential there, and the Independent (actually a great club, IMO) should learn to be a good neighbor and deal with being in a residential nabe, which it is. It’s not a party zone, it’s a neighborhood.

  2. Posted by Mark

    I’d like to see an open market inside with vendor stalls and dining, like the Reading Terminal Market in Philly, on a much smaller scale, of course.

  3. Posted by EH

    Frank C.: Is it beyond the pale to suggest that the developer be a good neighbor first and head off any concerns that the eventual tenants won’t pull an 11th Street on The Independent? By way of construction features, techniques, and materials, say.
    Divisadero is not a residential neighborhood in the way you’re portraying. If it was, there would have been motions against The Independent long before and independent of any development here.

  4. Posted by Patrick

    Too bad the Independent couldn’t take over the mgmt of the Harding space to book larger acts.

  5. Posted by Frank C.

    I don’t think it’s the Indy’s business to shut down development of another property for its own selfish reasons, unless it outright buys that property. You’re wrong about the nabe, it’s getting more residential by the month. Parking is an indicator, and I don’t mean only on weekend evenings. Try getting a spot Sunday morning before anything opens. I lived there for 9 years, just moved away last month. I bet within 5 to 7 years the area will change such that a club could not open. They own the building, by the way. That club dates back to the time, quite recently, when that stretch of Divis was sketchy – before 2007, say. I doubt the Indy owners could afford to buy that property now. I’d guess that given the Harding’s size, if somebody tried to operate it as a club, it would not fly re: opposition. It’s capacity would be 4 or 5x the Indy.

  6. Posted by Patrick

    @Frank C – you are probably right. So tired of condo buyers trying to shut down clubs that were there before their buildings were even built. They are killing night life in this city. Buyers should be required to sign a document stating that they understand they are buying a unit near a club.

  7. Posted by anon

    sorry, but “I was there first” is never a defense to a claim of nuisance, and that’s a good thing or it would prevent cities from changing in character. This is a good example as this part of Divis is seeing great improvements, and you can’t just let one or a handful of nightclub owners hinder that.
    Think of it this way (an old law school illustration): if there were a pig farm in the middle of nowhere but then housing sprung up around it, the homeowners could still force the farmer to get rid of the smelly pigs as a nuisance because they are no longer consistent with the character of the area. That the farmer was there first and he and others might love pigs and resent the new residents does not matter. You could not simply require the buyers to sign a document stating that they understand they are buying a unit near a pig farm.
    I like clubs too. But if the character of the neighborhood changes so they are no longer appropriate there, they need to move to where they are appropriate or take appropriate noise-reduction measures. That’s been the law for hundreds of years.
    And all you need to do is look around to see there is more than enough night life in SF. nothing is being killed.

  8. Posted by BDB

    I will be happy when this gets off the ground. And I hope they can get along with the Indy. I love having a great venue close by for shows.
    Building on the vacant lot should be a no brainer, but I’m kind of at a loss as to what is the best use of the Harding.
    Pretty sure we can’t support a theater in the area.

  9. Posted by Patrick

    The problem with your illustration, anon is not with the pig farm but with the zoning authorities who allowed housing to be built in an area that was used for farming and ranching. People want to live near vineyards in the Napa Valley because they are pretty, but they don’t realize that wine making is an industrial operation that requires smelly fertilizers, noisy fans, and slow-moving harvesters, which they complain about.
    Your illusration may be correct, but that doesn’t make it right. There may be more than enough night life now, but I wonder if that will still be the case a few years hence after every square foot has been filled up with condos.

  10. Posted by Amy Farah Weiss

    Divisadero is definitely ready for a thoughtful and collaborative revitalization of the Harding Theater … emphasis on thoughtful and collaborative. The good news is that for now we don’t have to worry about condos (and the people who move into them knowing about the club right next door but then find some legal loophole to make the club shut down … a la SoMa). We don’t have to worry about condos because the Planning Dept. put the kibosh on this last 3rd attempt to demolish the stage, upholding the protections granted under CEQA for historic community resources.
    I’m someone who has been working on a community-driven revitalization of the Harding for the past year and a half, and I am thankful to the neighbors who kept the Harding intact over the previous 8.5 years before I got invovled. Without the efforts of those neighbors and supporters of theaters/history/community resources there would be no Harding Theater at all today. I realize that some of my neighbors would applaud the idea of the Harding disappearing, but the vast majority are excited that the Harding has the potential to be revitalized.
    After I had a few days to gather my thoughts about the Harding being back on the market, I wrote down some thoughts about why I am hopeful about what the future brings. You can read them here if you like: http://nddivis.org/hopefortheharding.
    I also encourgae you to check out the vision we came up with for the Harding revitalization called the “Harding Hive”. I should host another community forum about the Harding soon …
    In community,
    Ames
    Founder/ED of Neighbors Developing Divisadero

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