Un-noticed Informational Hearing: Condo Developer's Revised Plan To Demolish Stage

August 13, 2009: The sponsor of the Harding condominium project presented a revised plan that would demolish the stage and stage fly to build 8 condo units, but would not alter the remainder of the theater, except to improve the façade of the building.

On behalf of the Friends of 1800, Attorney Arthur Levy pointed out the strong evidence of the importance of the stage and stage fly to the historic character of the building and noted that the environmental review section of the SF Planning Dept has not provided a revised environmental compliance report taking this evidence into account.

Other speakers noted that the sponsor had not contacted or notified the leading project opponents in the community of the hearing, and that we had only gotten wind of the hearing through the grapevine.

The Planning Commission did not vote. However, two commissioners emphasized the significance of the stage to the Commission’s Nov. 2008 decision to require an EIR. One questioned the fairness of the un-noticed informational hearing process, and another questioned the “retaliatory” nature of the sponsor’s marketing of the theater at $4.0 million immediately following the Nov. 2008 hearing. All in all, the Planning Commission did not respond receptively to the sponsor’s revised proposal.

It will be necessary for the City to propose a new environmental document if this proposal is to go forward to a real hearing before the Commission.

Friends of 1800 will advocate for an EIR to assure full environmental review of the revised proposal. The Friends continues to seek a solution that will protect the historic authenticity of the Harding Theater and promote community use of this public asset.

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