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Landmark Status Denied For San Francisco’s Gold Dust Lounge

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Gold Dust Lounge

A bartender works at the historic Gold Dust Lounge in San Francisco’s Union Sqaure. (Photo via Radio Alice)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — 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 Wednesday 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 Wednesday 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 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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