The Elbo Room

Despite widely publicized assurances to the contrary, plans to raze the Elbo Room to make way for new condos to rise at 645 Valencia Street are expeditiously moving forward and the meeting to officially present the project to its neighbors has been scheduled for next month.

As we first reported earlier this year, the owners of the Valencia Street building which is currently leased to the Elbo Room have been working on plans to raze the Mission district building and construct a five-story condo building with a bit of retail on the ground floor in its place.

While many felt our report overstated the intent and seriousness of the plans, including Matt Shapiro, the operator of the Elbo Room who dismissively posted that the Elbo Room wasn’t closing “any time soon” and that the owners of the building weren’t serious about acting on the plans, our report was actually understated.

As we substantiated, a detailed set of architectural plans had already been drafted for the project and the building’s owners had authorized the architects to act as their agents in submitting applications for environmental reviews, variances and Conditional Use, every step required to get the project formally approved.

And as a plugged-in reader reports, the pre-application meeting for the project at which the owners will officially present their plans to the building’s neighbors has been scheduled for November 6.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Sam


  2. Posted by Xman

    There’s no way this is going to happen. The newly formed historical preservation bureaucracy is going to jumpstart a campaign to have this building landmarked as part of the environmentail review process. Lol, you thought property owners have rights in this town, lol.

  3. Posted by unlivable city

    Whereas they could just put in some nice condos in the empty shell next door but then that wouldn’t be greedy enough for San Francisco.

    • Posted by gribble

      What does the building next door, which is owned by somebody else, have to do with the building in question?

  4. Posted by Real Person

    They should build condos on top of the Elbo room, preserving it.

  5. Posted by Futurist

    If we separate the issue of the building vs. the issue of this particular club, there really is no problem.
    1. the building has no significant historical architecture. Demolishing it is not an issue. The owner’s have that right, and to build within the zoning limits. there is nothing to preserve by “saving” the building. Building on top of the existing structure would be MORE costly than starting new, thus increasing the cost even more of the new units.
    2. the club can move somewhere else, or negotiate to move back into the ground floor of the new building when it’s completed. The club does NOT have to go out of business. They are not related to the building in any way.

    So, there is no problem.

    [Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that as proposed, the new commercial space on the ground floor will be a little under 800 square feet. The existing Elbo Room is over six times that size.]

    • Posted by Futurist

      Yes, you’re right.

      • Posted by Alai

        Gotta make room for all the parking. But that’s ok, once there’s plenty of parking, people will be able to drive to the bar!

  6. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Indeed. A good nightclub is defined by its staff and the acts that it books, not the space it occupies. Good clubs can move to new spaces successfully. Good clubs can also “go sour” staying in the same place if they have a change of ownership. Even losing the key booking agent can down a club.

    • Posted by frog

      Also, as a general rule, clubs are a somewhat transient/unstable business. They come and they go.

    • Posted by Tim Bracken

      I’m not saying this project should be blocked to save this venue, but I think you’re making the idea of relocating a music venue sound a lot easier than it is. There are all sorts of architectural and technical demands that must be met for a business like this. There can’t be many suitable spaces available for rent, if any at all, especially not in a neighborhood like this where the location helps make the business profitable. The club’s owners could build their own space from scratch, but that may well be prohibitively expensive in this market, and inevitable neighbor opposition would delay the project.

      • Posted by frog

        Isn’t that kind of the point? If the space is worth far more without a club there than with it there, then why should a club be there?

        That said, why hasn’t the city created a real nightlife district yet? With all the gentrification, there will always be neighbors complaining about noise late at night. 11th street is a start. But this is the kind of thing that needs to be accomplished with zoning, not on a business vs landlord/developer basis. No one landlord should have to shoulder the costs associated with maintaining culture in this city.

        • Posted by Spencer

          BAYSHORE would be a good nightlife district, near 550 Barneveldt. the elbo room has been stale for years.

          • Posted by nunya

            maybe for you!

          • Posted by frog

            We need to bring back the SF Pound. Heavy metal in the middle of nowhere.

          • Posted by Alai

            It’s a bit out of the way– who would be patronizing it, and how would they get there? Do we really want to make driving the best way to go to have a bunch of drinks?

            Not to say that something shouldn’t happen there, but a nightlife district should be better connected to the city.

  7. Posted by eddy

    Am I the only one that glanced at the title and thought “Ebola Room”? 🙂

  8. Posted by Dan

    The plans should be modified so that the entire street level floor is commercial.
    If the developers wanted to have goodwill, they could agree to develop a basement level full floor space for a new Elbo Room. With the club underground, and with a commercial first floor, the residential units above should be protected from noise and vibration.

    • Posted by Sam

      Yea kind of like Viracocha

    • Posted by Futurist

      No. Developers don’t have any reason to create “good will” with a nightclub. What is their incentive?

      Their incentive, as developers, is to develop and build (residential) property that the market will buy, and make them a profit.

      • Posted by Alai

        The incentive to create good will would be to avoid a years-long holdup.

        That said, I doubt it would work– e.g. the 12-unit building on Valencia that was blocked in no small part because it had a full floor commercial space instead of parking.

  9. Posted by Patrick

    I thought the Elbo Room’s sound system was really sh!tty when I was there for CultureCollide a couple of weeks ago. Now I know why.

  10. Posted by Anon

    The building owners are good friends, and indeed business partners, with the club owners. i personally only care about the occasional Dub Mission international-type act these days anyway. But if the condo build gets green lighted you gotta wonder whether the club owner will be a partner in that venture too. Anyway, the club is now kind of a circle at a squares convention these days ….

  11. Posted by NunyaBiz

    It’s been a long time since the Elbo Room was cool or had cool bands. In fact music in SF is sort of dead, just like art. It’s too expensive to live here. And I’m actually fine with that.

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