SF supes support landmark expansion for Castro Theatre

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday May 25, 2022
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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously May 24 to support enhanced landmarking of the castro Theatre, Photo: Scott Wazlowski <br>
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously May 24 to support enhanced landmarking of the castro Theatre, Photo: Scott Wazlowski

The historic Castro Theatre is a step closer to an upgrade in its status as a city landmark May 24 with the support of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors voted unanimously 11-0 to approve enhancement of the historic theater's landmark status, a move that extends that designation from, essentially, just the facade of the building to its grand interior. Submitted by gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman during the May 10 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the resolution amends the historic theater's landmark status by broadening the designation to include "the full historical, architectural, aesthetic and cultural interest and value of the Castro Theatre," as opposed to the current designation that only covers the building's elaborate California Churrigueresque facade.

The resolution was co-sponsored by supervisors Connie Chan (District 1), Aaron Peskin (District 3), Dean Preston (District 5), and gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who was appointed May 9 by Mayor London Breed to fill the vacancy when Matt Haney left to become the District 17 representative in the California Assembly.

The Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Transportation Committee discussed the enhanced designation of the theater, significant to LGBTQ history and culture, at its May 23 meeting and passed it on with a positive recommendation to the full board.

The enhanced landmark designation for the Castro Theatre, which was already designated a city landmark in 1977, would take into account the interior of the fabled movie palace, offering additional protections to the theater which is expected to undergo additional, significant renovations beginning later this year. The designation doesn't necessarily mitigate the controversies over renovation plans proposed by Another Planet Entertainment, which assumed management of the beloved movie palace in January.

"The two big overarching questions are to what extent, after this is done, will the Castro still be a great venue for films and to what extent will it be an institution still serving the LGBT community," wondered Mandelman in a phone interview later with the Bay Area Reporter.

Mary Conde, senior vice president of Another Planet Entertainment, was on hand at the committee meeting to speak in favor of the enhanced status.

"This has been a collaborative effort working with Mandeleman's office," she told the supervisors' committee during the public comment period. "We are very supportive of additional landmark designations for the theater."

Another Planet has submitted plans to the San Francisco Planning Commission for extensive renovations to the theater, which will mark its 100th anniversary in June. Plans call for a new HVAC system, restoration of many of the artistic features inside the building and the marquee, and controversial plans for new seating to make it more accommodating to live performances.

Now that the resolution has been approved by the full board, the planning department will prepare a report for the Historic Preservation Commission, which has 90 days to take up the matter. If it's approved, Mandelman is expected to introduce an ordinance, which would then be heard by the supervisors' land use committee and then the full board for final approval.

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