News


SFNTF UPDATE

METRO THEATRE PRESERVATION ALERT!
March 12th, 2009


PLEASE SUPPORT THE METRO THEATRE LANDMARK DESIGNATION!

The Metro Theatre is one of San Francisco's finest remaining theaters and retains a very high level of integrity. The S.F. Neighborhood Theater Foundation believes that the San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board acted appropriately when it recommended approval of the the current landmark designation for the Metro that specifies interior and exterior elements including the volume of the Metro's interior as significant. We believe that the Historic Preservation Commission should similarly recommend the existing Metro Theatre Landmark Designation to the Board of Supervisors for their approval. The Theater Foundation needs and appreciates your support in our efforts to preserve this important historic theatre!

Here are 3 three things you can do to support the Metro Theatre:

1. Attend the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Hearing on Wednesday, March 18th (12:30 PM, Room 400 City Hall) to voice your support for the Metro. Talking points are available below. Please check the agenda in advance as this matter has been moved around a lot!

2. Write a Letter or Email in of Support of the Metro to the Board of Supervisors. See talking points at www.sfntf.org under "News" for details about helpful points to make in your letter referencing Case No. 2007.1401L - Metro Theater, 2055 Union Street - Landmark Designation. Address your letters to:

San Francisco Board of Supervisors City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689
Board of Supervisors Email: Michela.Alioto-Pier@sfgov.org;John.Avalos@sfgov.org; David.Campos@sfgov.org; David.Chiu@sfgov.org; Carmen.Chu@sfgov.org; Chris.Daly@sfgov.org; Bevan.Dufty@sfgov.org;Sean.Elsbernd@sfgov.org; Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org; Sophie.Maxwell@sfgov.org; Ross.Mirkarimi@sfgov.org

Letters can also be sent via e.mail to the planner in charge: shelley.caltagirone@sfgov.org

3. Take one minute to Sign the Petition! http://gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-metro-theatre.html

Thanks so much and we hope to see you at City Hall on March 18th!

METRO THEATRE TALKING POINTS - FEBRUARY 2009

Background

The matter that will be before the Planning Commission on 3/5/09 is whether to approve the landmark nomination for the Metro Theatre recommended by the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board in December of 2008. This nomination designates specific interior and exterior features of the Metro as significant.

The controversial question before the Planning Commission is whether interior elements including the volume of the Metro's interior are worthy of designation. We believe that they are and more specifically we believe that preservation of the overall volume of the Metro's interior is essential to any meaningful preservation of the building.

The property owner is objecting to the Landmark nomination because it might complicate their future plans for the Metro - which they have suggested will include gutting the Theatre and converting it to a gym. No plans for a project at the Metro, however, have been submitted to the City and the appropriateness of this plan is not what is currently being considered.

Again, all that is being considered is whether the Metro is worthy of the current landmark nomination. We believe that the Metro's nomination should be considered on its merits and that if the property owner wants to make future changes to the theatre they can submit plans to City for the Planning Commission to consider. While the Theater Foundation would obviously like the Metro to remain a theater, it is important to note that preserving the volume of the Metro's interior would not preclude it from being used for a variety of other uses. San Francisco's Alhambra Theatre, which is now a gym, is a local example of how the volume of a historic theatre can be preserved while a new use is accommodated. Hence, while the question of the future use of the Metro is not currently under consideration, moving forward with the current landmark designation would not preclude a future change in use - even of the type that has been informally proposed by the property owner.

Timeline

The Metro was shuttered at the owner’s discretion in October 2006 after the property owner bought out the remaining years on the former operator's lease. At the time, the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation connected the property owner with a theatre operator that was willing to keep the Metro open while a long-term plan for the property was developed. The property owner rejected this offer. In August 2007, the Theater Foundation began working with Supervisor Alioto-Pier to assist her in initiating the landmark process. In the fall of 2007 a resolution was introduced by Supervisor Alioto-Pier. The landmark designation first went to the Landmarks Advisory Preservation Board (LAPB) in February 2008. The matter was continued and the Planning Department issued multiple extensions throughout 2008 so that the owner would have time to submit additional information about the interior. The matter was returned to the LAPB in December 2008.

Significance

  • Constructed in 1924, the Metro Theater, 2055 Union Street, was originally known as the Metropolitan. Unlike other San Francisco theaters that have been decimated on the interior, the Metro is in excellent condition and retains a very high level of integrity. It has become a visual landmark associated with the Cow Hollow neighborhood for 85 years, a key element keeping Union Street vital.

  • Designed by prominent San Francisco architects James and Merritt Reid. The Reid Brothers designed landmarks including the Fairmont Hotel (1906), the Cliff House (1909), San Diego's Hotel Del Coronado and numerous theatres including the New Mission Theater, the New Fillmore, the Coliseum, the Alexandria, the Balboa and the York.

  • The Metro was built for owner Samuel H. Levin as part of Levin’s San Francisco Theatres Inc. chain, which originally consisted of the Alexandria, Coliseum, Metro, Harding, Balboa and Vogue theaters.

  • In 1941 the Metropolitan’s interior and exterior were remodeled by architect Otto Deichmann, associate of architect Timothy Pflueger, and re-opened as the Metro.

  • The auditorium’s main volume was unchanged during the 1941 and subsequent renovations and retains the original 1924 configuration and volume.

  • The Metro is significant under National Register criteria A & C. The building is representative of a trend involving the renovation and update of classically inspired theaters of the 1910s and 1920s into the more modern styles of the 30s and early 40s.

  • The Metro Theater is an excellent and intact example of early twentieth century theater architecture, renovated in 1941, that combines elements of the Neo-classical and Art Deco architectural styles.

  • The Metro is significant for its association with the San Francisco International Film Festival, the oldest international film festival in the United States. Organized by the Levin family, it was the site of the festival’s Opening Night on 4 December 1957 and the site of the festival during subsequent years.

  • Amendments to Planning Code Sections 1004, 1005 and 1006.7 (Ordinance 82-07) state that significant interiors in public or publicly accessible buildings should be clearly described in the designating ordinance or landmark nomination.


FEB 2009 / PLANNING COMMISSION TO CONSIDER METRO LANMARK DESIGNATION FEB. 26th - SIGN THE PETITION TO HELP SAVE THE METRO!

Show your suppport for preserving the historic Metro Theatre by signing the online petition to Save the Metro!

Support the Metro at the S.F. Planning Commission Meeting!
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
12:30 PM, City Hall Room 400

DEC 2008 / METRO THEATRE ONE STEP CLOSER TO LANDMARK STATUS! LANDMARKS BOARD VOTES FOR METRO!
San Francisco's Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board voted by a 5-2 margin Wednesday (Dec. 17) to recommend the historic Metro Theatre (1924) on Union Street for San Francisco landmark status. The designation would include protections for the exterior of the building and a number of important interior features. This is an essential step toward preserving one of San Francisco's best maintained neighborhood theaters. The Metro's landmark designation will next be considered by the Planning Commission. We will continue to advise you of progress and thank you to the many supporters who spoke on behalf of the Metro!"

APRIL 2008 / SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE METRO THEATRE

Show your suppport for preserving the historic Metro Theatre by signing the online petition to Save the Metro!
Please write to District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, Michela.Alioto-Pier@sfgov.org and let her know that you think that the Metro should be preserved as a Theatre!


FEB. 2008 / LANDMARKS BOARD CONSIDERS LANDMARKING METRO THEATRE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR

The Metro item was continued at the Feb. 6 meeting. Information about a new meeting date when the Metro item will be considered will be posted here.
Help Save the Metro! Attend the Feb. 6 Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board Meeting and encourage the Board to approve designation of the Interior and Exterior of the Metro as a San Francisco Landmark!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
12:30 PM, City Hall Room 400

Read the Metro Theatre Landmark Nomination Report.

Vew the Metro Theatre Landmark Nomination Photos.



AUG. 2007 / CITY PURSUES LANDMARK STATUS FOR METRO THEATRE

Legislation was introduced at the Board of Supervisors to initiate the landmarking process for Union Street's historic Metro Theatre. For more information please see this article in the SF Daily.


SEPT. 2006 / HISTORIC METRO THEATRE CLOSES

Union Street's historic Metro Theatre closed last week after its operator Regal Entertainment Group sold its lease to the owner of the property. Future plans for the Metro are not known, but the property owner is said to be considering a variety of options for the theatre. The Metro was renovated in 1998 and is one of the City's grandest remaining neighborhood theaters. The Metro opened as the Metropolitan in 1924 and was designed by prominent local architects the Reid Bros (Fairmont Hotel). A 1941 remodel was completed by Timothy Pflueger (Oakland Paramount). The Metro was the original home of America's oldest international film festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival premiered at the Metro in 1957.

The Theater Foundation has been in touch with the property owner and we hope to meet soon to discuss the future of the Metro. We have already put the owner in touch with an interested operator of the theater and with an interested buyer who would preserve the Metro as a theater. Nonetheless, the future of the Metro is very much uncertain and it is important that the community voice its concern about the future of the theatre.

At this point, the best way to voice your concern is to write a letter to members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors stating your preference that the Metro remain a theatre. We would suggest sending an email to the following Supervisors:

Michela Alioto-Pier, Michela.Alioto-Pier@sfgov.org (District 2 Supervisor, the Metro is in District 2)

Aaron Peskin, Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org

Bevan Dufty, Bevan.Dufty@sfgov.org

Tom Ammiano, Tom.Ammiano@sfgov.org

Ross Mirkarimi, ross.mirkarimi@sfgov.org

Please CC the Theater Foundation so that we are aware of your letter:

Alfonso Felder, SFNTF, afelder@sfntf.org

It is important that each letter is personal, but some points you might consider making in your letter include:

* The Metro is one of the best and last remaining neighborhood movie theaters in San Francisco.
* The Metro is an important attraction for the Union Street neighborhood commercial district and draws visitors from throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area.
* The Metro is a significant historic resource designed by prominent architects the Reid Brothers and later remodeled by Timothy Pflueger. The Metro is also the original home of the San Francisco International Film Festival.
* The Metro is a critical cultural resource that provides affordable and accessible neighborhood entertainment for all San Franciscans.
* The Metro is a beautiful and unique community asset that can never be replaced.