LGBT center seeks commercial tenants
by Matthew S. Bajko
San Francisco's LGBT Community Center is now taking proposals from commercial tenants interested in opening for-profit businesses on its ground floor and rooftop spaces.
The LGBT facility this month issued requests for proposals from interested business owners and will be showing the various rooms for rent at the building today (Thursday, January 20).
The tour for prospective tenants comes nearly a year after the Bay Area Reporter broke the news that the long-struggling center had met with local restaurateur Gus Murad, who owns the rooftop eatery Medjool in the Mission, about the possibility of turning a little-used meeting room and outdoor balcony on its fourth floor into a restaurant.
Since then, the city rezoned the building as a special use district in order to facilitate the zoning changes required to allow the center to seek new operators for the various areas available for rent. Last week, the center posted the RFPs on its website and announced the building tour.
"The center is very excited that we are opening up our first floor and fourth floor to create new partnerships with local businesses through an open RFP (request for proposals) process! We have engaged neighbors and key stakeholders throughout the rezoning of the building and will continue to have opportunities for community members to follow the selection process," wrote Rebecca Rolfe, the center's executive director, in an e-mail to supporters this week.
According to the documents, center officials have expanded the rooms it is willing to turn over to private entrepreneurs. In addition to the ground floor space built in the modern structure where a cafe once operated, the center is also accepting proposals from those interested in using the entire ground floor space or just portions of the rooms housed in an old Victorian that was saved from demolition and incorporated into the center.
The first leasable space on the ground floor is approximately 1,800 square feet and to the left of the main entrance off Market Street. It includes the former cafe space, a box office, phone bank room, and several other offices.
The second leasable space is roughly 1,350 square feet and is to the right of the main entry. It comprises the building's Historical Room, youth space, childwatch, and senior center areas.
The RFP states that center officials are willing to entertain ideas for both spaces from a single tenant or could lease each space to separate entities "depending on the proposals received, the potential mix of commercial uses and desired synergies."
They could also opt to lease only one of the areas, according to the document, and any lease would be for five years, with two five-year options to extend the lease.
The upstairs space for lease is approximately 5,600 square feet plus a contiguous exclusive use exterior deck of approximately 1,200 square feet. Any lease would be for seven years, with two five-year options to extend the lease.
The cost of any alterations to the spaces will be borne by the tenants and must first be approved by center officials. The center is willing to discuss allowing use of the building outside its current operating times.
It is currently open Mondays through Thursdays from noon to 10 p.m.; Fridays from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and is closed Sundays.
Center officials specify in the RFPs they are looking for operators who have experience running businesses similar to the ones they are proposing and have been in operation for at least two years within the past five years.
According to the documents, any final lease will be negotiated by and between the center and the chosen tenant, with final approval the discretion of the center's board of directors and its lenders.
All bids are due to the center by 5 p.m. Monday, February 7. Applicants are required to submit a $5,000 security check with their proposal submissions.
For more information, visit the center's website at http://www.sfcenter.org.