Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Saving" the Harding---and blocking housing

Photo from Haighteration

The developer's original plan for the Harding Theater on Divisadero was for 18 condominiums, 18 parking places and 5,000 square feet of retail space.

Thanks to David Tornheim and Supervisors Ammiano, Alioto-Pier, Daly, Peskin, and, of course, Mirkarimi---who all signed Tornheim's appeal way back in 2005---the derelict, eyesore former theater was "saved" from being demolished. "Saved" for what, exactly? Just to sit vacant, a blight on the middle of Divisadero, which is what we still have more than three years later. Tornheim evidently did succeed in reducing the number of condos planned from 18 to only 8 (see the agenda item in italics below). And there are still four commercial spaces in the current plan, with 19 off-street parking spaces. (Has Tornheim discussed the parking for cars/aka, death monsters, with the Bicycle Coalition? They would probably endorse his misguided cause if they knew about that.)

Interesting to note that the developer is also going to replace the old theater marquee---like the city forced Amoeba Records on Haight Street to keep the sign from the old bowling alley---and call the development "Harding Place," a great victory for nostalgia, if not for housing in the city.

The original proposal was exactly the kind of infill housing development we should support, not the massive Market/Octavia Plan or UC's proposal to shoehorn 450 housing units into the six-acre extension property on lower Haight Street. We can only hope that the supervisors who supported Tornheim in 2005 have lost patience with this sort of obstructionism and will allow the poor developer to get on with this worthwhile project.

1. 2005.0911E (L. KEINKER: (415) 575-9036)
616 DIVISADERO STREET aka Harding Theater, Lot 002J of Assessor’s Block 1202, L-shaped lot fronting both Divisadero and Hayes Streets---Appeal of Preliminary Negative Declaration. The proposed project is to adaptively reuse the Harding Theater as a mixed-use commercial building, called “The Harding,” divided into at least four tenant spaces, replacement installation of the 1930’s marquee and blade sign, demolition of the theater backstage and, on the undeveloped portion of the lot facing Hayes Street, new construction of a five-story, eight-unit condominium building of approximately 13,700-sf, called “Harding Place,” with up to a total of 19 off-street parking spaces accessed from Hayes Street. This site is located within the NC-2 (Small-scale Neighborhood Commercial) District and 65-A Height and Bulk District.
(Proposed for Continuance to September 25, 2008)

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