The announced intention of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center Board to demolish 1800 Market Street (see September-October 1997 Newsletter) has generated a great deal of controversy. Opposition to the demolition of this historic Market Street structure, also known as the Fallon Building, has coalesced into an organization called The Friends of 1800 Market Street.
The group engaged architectural historical Anne Bloomfield to draft a landmark case report for the structure which she has submitted to the Planning Department. The issue appeared on the Landmarks Board agenda, November 19, as an information item. Although the nomination could not be considered at that time, the board heard public comment on the project for the site, including the proposed demolition of the historic structure.
The project sponsor made a well orchestrated presentation that included members of the community center board, the architects and others of the project team. Their argument essentially was that the cost of rehabilitating the 103-year old structure to a level that will accommodate their programmatic needs and upgrade it to a new construction levelestimated between $1.6 and $2.6 millionis prohibitive and would result in a loss of up to 25 percent of program space. This would force the center to eliminate planned programs for the site.
A representative of the mayor indicated Brown's support of the decision by the community center's board to demolish the Fallon Building.
A score of speakers, beginning with Tom Mayer of the Friends of 1800 Market, made impassioned pleas to save the building, may citing the role of the gay community has played in the rehabilitation of whole neighborhoods of historic homes here and around the nation. There was support from nearby neighborhood associations, including Hayes Valley and Mint Hill, and the citywide Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods.
David Bahlman, speaking for Heritage, noted the organization's efforts to find alternative solutions to the treatment of the Fallon Building that would be both more appropriate to the historic nature of the structure and less costly.
Planning Department staff informed the Landmarks Board that they will have several opportunities to address the issue of the demolition. The project will require a full environmental impact report, because 1800 Market is National Register eligible, and the board may comment on the draft EIR. The demolition will require a conditional use permit, which the board will have to review. The board may also consider the project under Section 101.1 (Prop M), which mandates the preservation of historic buildings.
After more than two hours, the Landmarks Board voted unanimously (with two of the nine members absent) to place the landmark nomination of the Fallon Building on the agenda for their meeting of December 17. In the meantime, the two partiesthe community center board and Friends of 1800 Markethave agreed to accept arbitration, and there is hope for an amicable solution that saves the building, after this item goes to press.