The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center Project (CCP) Board of Directors now supports designating the Fallon Building, the Victorian at the corner of Octavia and Market streets, as a landmark. The latest development follows the board's unanimous vote Wednesday, April 8 in support of a nine-point joint agreement that has already been endorsed by the two preservationist groups involved in negotiations to save the building.
The Friends of 1800 Market Street membership ratified the joint agreement at its meeting Monday, April 13. The other group involved in the agreement is the Foundation for San Francisco's Architectural Heritage.
The CCP board agreed that it is willing to support landmark designation for the Queen Anne Victorian that survived the 1906 earthquake, based upon an agreement with preservationists that limits the amount of restoration required for the 101-year-old building. Landmark status on a building ordinarily requires the highest levels of restoration. The CCP board had expressed concern that the landmark status could once again significantly increase costs and result in lengthy time delays for construction. The board and representatives from the two preservationist groups, however, negotiated what CCP Board President Brenda Barnette called "a brilliant solution to all our needs."
The joint agreement puts the CCP on record supporting landmark status, if it is accompanied by a detailed description of the design changes that will be made to the Victorian to make its restoration both affordable and more functional. The agreement also limits jurisdiction of the city's Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board to the design of the Fallon Building, and not the new structure that will be built along side it.
"It is crucial to the ability of this project to proceed in a timely and cost-effective way," added Barnette.
The CCP purchased the Fallon Building and adjacent property in 1996 using $1.1 million in city funds. Since then, more than $40,000 has been spent in securing permits, demolishing the smaller buildings on the site, and hiring a property management company to deal with the vagrants who had repeatedly broken into the Fallon Building and even had electricity and phone service turned on.
Last month the CCP board reversed an earlier decision to demolish the building after negotiations with preservationists produced a set of cost-saving measures for its restoration. Preservationists then asked the board to agree to landmark status for the building, given its visibility on Market Street, history, and architectural merit.
"It's an extremely important and valuable agreement and reasonable expectations on the part of the board," said CCP board member Dana Van Gorder. "I'm totally in support of it."
Preservationists too were pleased. "I think it's a slam dunk," said preservationist architect Arnold Lerner.
"This decision allows us to build a project whose cost we can justify to the city and private donors who are making it possible," said Pat Martel, CCP treasurer. "It also acknowledges that 1800 Market Street is an important architectural resource for San Francisco. The agreement permits us, at long last, to have our architects begin design work so that we can bring this important resource to life for a community that wants it and needs it."
Under the joint agreement, the goal is to present schematic designs for the exterior elevations of the Fallon Building to the full landmarks advisory board some time in June. Another part of the agreement calls for Friends of 1800 Market and the Foundation for San Francisco's Architectural Heritage to pledge to help raise funds that would be used to help pay for restoration. Both groups are planning an event for this Saturday. [See Sidebar below.]
"This decision allows us to continue building on the spirit of cooperation that has developed between our board and the preservation community" said Dave Latina, chair of the center's building committee. "With a strong consensus about how to proceed, we can look forward to completing our fundraiser to make the dream of a center a reality."
The CCP is in the midst of a $3.5 million capital campaign for the $9.5 million project.
Preservationists and others interested in the city's unique history will be in for a treat this Saturday, April 18. That's when two groups, Friends of 1800 Market Street and the Foundation for San Francisco's Architectural Heritage, will be hosting a special evening of celebration commemorating the 92nd anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire and the recent decision of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center Project's (CCP) board of directors to save the Fallon Building from demolition.
The wine and hors d'oeuvres and silent auction event will be held at the Haas-Lilienthal Mansion, located at 2007 Franklin Street at Washington Street. Sponsors of the event ask each person to donate $50, to benefit the preservation and rehabilitation of the Fallon Building. Organizers said people can make a donation even if they are unable to attend.