Gold Dust Lounge Fails to Earn Historic Landmark Status but Vows to Fight Closure

By: Brian Shields - Wed, 04 Apr 2012 19:52:45 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- San Francisco's Historic Preservation Commission voted against  providing a Union Square bar faced with eviction with landmark status Wednesday afternoon.

      Supporters of The Gold Dust Lounge made a presentation before the  commission on Feb. 1, and the historic preservation commission was set to  vote on the proposal on March 21 but postponed the matter to a closed session  at Wednesday's meeting.

      The commission released a report March 16 that found while the bar  is "an important local business and gathering spot," it does not qualify as a  city historic landmark.

      Furthermore, landmark designation would only protect the physical  features of the space and not "what is valued most -- the continued operation  of the bar," the report said.

      The building's landlord, Jon Handlery, gave notice in December  that the bar's lease was being terminated through a clause in the document,  and the bar's lease expired on March 10.

      A new retail tenant reportedly wants to take over the space at 247  Powell St. as well as the neighboring two-story retail space at 301 Geary St.

      A publicist for the bar, Lee Houskeeper, said that its supporters  are continuing to pursue political options, with Supervisor Christina Olague  likely to introduce legislation that would spare the bar from its fate.

      Olague, when reached by phone this afternoon, said that she is  working directly with the bar's advocates to craft the legislation that aims  "to preserve something of San Francisco that is unique and really does  reflect old San Francisco."

      In recent weeks, Olague had proposed creating a moratorium on  conversions in the neighborhood, which would prevent the bar from becoming  retail space.

      Olague said that after discussing the proposal with the  Planning Commission, she realized it would be a stop-gap measure that would  "only put a bandage over (the problem)."

      In the meantime, the Bovis family plans to pursue landmark status  for its other Union Square drinking establishment, Lefty O'Doul's, which is  located around the corner from The Gold Dust Lounge in a property also leased  from Handlery, according to Houskeeper.

      A spokesman for the Handlery family, Sam Singer, called the  Bovises' effort to seek historic landmark status futile.

      "We thank the Commission for recognizing that this landmarking  effort was nothing but alchemy intended to cover over a landlord-tenant  dispute," Singer said.
       (Copyright 2012, Bay City News, All rights reserved.)
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