April 9, 2012

The 280 Seventh Street Scoop (And Evolving Neighborhood Editorial)

280 Seventh Street Site

A little while back the owners and operators of the Café in the Castro purchased the Rawhide II club building at 280 Seventh Street, once "the largest and…only Country Western Dancing club in San Francisco."

As proposed, the existing building will be razed and a four-story building with a club featuring an "entertainment area with stage for live performances, seating and a dance floor," a restaurant "in the style of a locally owned and sourced 'Cheesecake Factory' style eatery," a roof top garden, and two residential apartments facing Langton Alley will rise.

280 Seventh Street Rendering

From the owners with respect to their plans:

We will be a neighborhood-serving restaurant while still recognizing the importance of visitors to the city coming to such places as Moscone Center. Our nighttime focus will be on the diversity you find at an LGBT entertainment venue with the inclusiveness found at Café duNord or Slim’s. Yes, that means we will have a stage and will be featuring performance as well as dance events. We envision the mix of entertainment as diverse as possible and are planning for a small but well equipped stage for live performances.

From Lodging in Public with respect to mixed feelings on a disappearing barrier dividing SoMa, a "[defense] against the good and bad effects of encroaching prosperity":

The Sixth Street skid-row corridor down the middle of SoMa served for the past three decades as a dangerous-looking (sometimes actually dangerous) buffer that prevented boring or timid people in the convention and financial zones to the east of us from walking very far at all west of the Yerba Buena complex around Third that includes Moscone Center. (Yerba Buena, of course, replaced San Francisco's former Skid Row in the hard-fought 1970s urban renewal rip-out. A lot of the people and functions it displaced moved over to Sixth.)
So even through the Web 1.0 boom, those of us living South of Market and west of Sixth were spared the glass-front high-rises, the loud after-work joints full of junior stock traders in mating plumage, and the restaurants and night spots catering to Midwestern conventioneers venturing out from Moscone Center -- that's all in the alien territory, confusingly also called SoMa, that stretches from Fifth east to the Embarcadero by the Bay Bridge. Over here, things have managed to stay a little more alternative.
Sixth Street, however, is losing its fear factor. It's going hipster. Its function as a containment zone for vice and dysfunction is fading as its property values rise. I think its future really is what a younger-generation SRO landlord predicted to me more than ten years ago: to provide hostel-type accommodations and entertainment for young people who want to go somewhere a bit different, but not perhaps too different.

Assuming Planning’s approval, the developers hope to host a grand opening in 2014.

280 Seventh Street [280seventh.com]
Western SoMa: here come the conventionaleers [lodginginpublic]

First Published: April 9, 2012 11:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

What's with the 60's suburban look? What's going on -- a little of everything (nothing?).

If nothing else, kill the bump-out windows. Tighten the design. Sightglass has done a fine job at renovating its adjacent building. I don't mind new, but this is slightly go-go ugly. Just say no.

IMO

Posted by: Invented at April 9, 2012 12:17 PM

I don't care about the explanation if one exists, but this absolutely horrible to look at.

Posted by: horrible at April 9, 2012 1:11 PM

This design is not great, but it is still far better than what is there now. Let's see where saying "Yes" to things gets us for a change.

Posted by: Mole Man at April 9, 2012 1:38 PM

Yeah, not an amazing design, but I do like the idea of constructing a new building with entertainment in mind.

Posted by: gellan at April 9, 2012 2:46 PM

Lodging in Public is off-base with its fear of this becoming a club for conventioneers. It's owned by the Cafe, and it appears there will be an attempt to make this an LGBT-oriented entertainment space.
Other than strip clubs, it's difficult to tailor nightclubs to conventioneers, who aren't here regularly, are difficult to promote to, and would tend to make for an atmosphere less attractive to locals.

Posted by: Dan at April 9, 2012 3:24 PM

The 280 on the side of the building is so compellingly ugly, it's fascinating.

Like a blinking arrow of bubble ights pointing to a garage entrance.

Is this the way to the San Jose?

Posted by: kathleen at April 9, 2012 5:24 PM

Ugly design and the Cafe doesn't really score points with the Castro neighborhood with its rowdy clientele, so a lot needs to be changed.

Posted by: Marten at April 9, 2012 5:32 PM

Why would anyone want to use the "Cheesecake Factory" as a template for a restaurant? It is really just a fancy Denny's

Posted by: NoeNeighbor at April 9, 2012 7:08 PM

Yes, by all means, Lodging in Public, let's make policy and planning decisions based on whom we find "boring" or "timid". What a load of self-absorbed malarkey. You know what? Some of the most "boring" and "timid" people I have known have been those who frequent the bars and clubs in SoMa. You know -- that whole herd-mentality, group-think thing? Bah! Hanging out at a nasty leather bar makes you neither interesting nor particularly brave.

Posted by: OP at April 9, 2012 7:52 PM

I'll post something on my blog in a bit about some of the comments here (OP's included). Among much else, my husband found a picture of a Circuit City on Staten Island that looks an awful lot like the 280 - 7th design.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 9, 2012 9:48 PM

You want edgy? Move to Oakland.

Posted by: Patrick at April 9, 2012 10:53 PM

Best of luck to the owners in their permitting. I hope the rawhide's cabaret and liquor license transferred with the sale.

Lodging in Public is overly timid and judgmental for a self proclaimed alternative tenant bemoaning the gentrification of his neighborhood.

Resenting people who bring money into the city, like conventioneers is a great place to start. Of course they're all from the Midwest.

Spoken like a bitter barista who has never needed to go to a convention.

Heaven forbid we see strollers and good schools in soma as there are in soho or TriBeCa.

Bring it on. Its a nightclub restaurant, not moma. The design is fine. In 2014, I'll break out the light sticks and the leather pants, and have a drink. After my locally sourced cheesecake style burger.

Posted by: BillyBalls at April 10, 2012 7:47 AM

Hi. I'm the lodgiginpublic person. I've posted a note here about the distinction between club kids, who don't always amuse me either, and the neighborhood of people who *live* South of Market.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 10, 2012 8:09 AM

P.S. Don't get any overheated ideas. I'm a very boring married lawyer. Just happen to like my neighborhood the way it is.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 10, 2012 12:23 PM

This area desperately needs more lunch options, with thousands of people coming to the Hall of Justice at Bryant and 7th for work, jury duty, towed cars, traffic tickets, court appearances, etc. every day, including weekends.

The dining options are slim. I'm no fan of the Cheasecake Factory, but I am hoping it was more a reference to the rooftop location than to the "hold this pager and wait for a table" even when the place is empty and the huge portions of heavy food.

I love Sightglass but I was disappointed that with all that room they didn't make the leap and serve sandwiches and hot food.

Posted by: hhhippo at April 10, 2012 3:30 PM

Yes, agree about the lunch situation though there's always BrainWash. Also the Sandwich Board, which is new and trendy and tasty and a nice addition to the neighborhood (yeah, I admit it).

Talking of lunch, it is weird that the "Lineup" at the NW corner of 7th and Harrison has been through a string of failed ownerships over the past 15 years at least. Seems like it ought to work, at least as a place for cops and court staff and lawyers, but it never does.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 10, 2012 3:47 PM

Martha,

Thanks for your reply to my comments. I'm a San Francisco native, and (mis) spent some of my youth in those same clubs.

Allow me to expand my position: I hope you can sympathize with, or at least understand, my analogy between South of Market and New York's TriBeCa.

New York is perhaps the most mature real estate market in the country. San Francisco's growth places it firmly in second place, in my opinion.

I'm sure there were many tenants and homeowners living in Tribeca who decided to leave as the neighborhood lost some of its urban edge and authenticity.

While I understand the authenticity of a neighborhood, in my opinion that is out weighed by the benefits of development, new businesses, and their associated revenue and tax base for the common good.

Posted by: BillyBalls at April 10, 2012 3:49 PM

Hey BillyBalls,

Thx for this response. See what you're saying but the trouble is with that common good. If rising tides floated all boats there'd be less to worry about here. I understand low-income and even lower-middle-class New Yorkers can't afford to live in most parts of Manhattan. Getting that way here now.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 10, 2012 10:18 PM

Ugly as hell...all my smug neighbors deserve this piece of crap plopped into the middle of their urbanite affluence. I think it's hilarious.

Posted by: lambf at April 10, 2012 10:31 PM

I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks 6th street, in it's current state is something to be saved or cherished, has either never spent any real time there or has a screw loose. Not having glass towers and highrises or junior stocktraders in your backyard does not require maintaining a containment zone of junkies, convicts, criminals, and crazies to the detriment of everyone else. It only requires good planning.

Posted by: JK415 at April 11, 2012 12:23 AM

JK415, I think there's a little confusion here between the descriptive and the normative. The Sixth Street barrier happens to be what has preserved this neighborhood so far. That and the club kids. Of course there would have been less miserable ways of preserving the live-and-let-live in western SoMa, but Sixth Street and the club kids are what we've had to preserve us from the Gold Club kind of nonsense, and there's no healthier substitute for those coming online.

In the process, let's not go calling the old Sixth Street population (or me) those nasty old-fashioned distancing names. As my first-year criminal law professor used to say, we're all criminals in some way or other -- there are just too many laws for matters to be otherwise -- so it's more interesting to consider which crimes our police officers and judicial system choose to notice and punish in what ways. And as I learned in my years as a disability benefits advocate, we all have a "screw loose" one way or another: the interesting question is how, as imperfect people, we manage to help each other along anyway.

Better to think how to manage a city in ways that recognize all the residents as citizens. Instead of classifying certain people as irredeemable and dropping them into containment zones to rot, the city might instead work to maintain resources like cheap undemanding places to live, easily accessed medical and counseling services, and easily obtained reliable jobs for people who don't/can't do paperwork. That would be a start. While we're at it, we could preserve some places where it's OK to weld stuff on the sidewalk. (The welding thing is a William Gibson line -- explained at the end of my Monday night post here.)

I dunno -- despite all the talk about edginess, our street in the daytime is the closest real place I've ever seen to Sesame Street -- a varied urban place where neighbors of many economic levels actually know and talk to each other. You can see that I don't want it turned into Disney's soulless Main Street USA, can't you?

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 11, 2012 12:21 PM

I realize it's been years since I've watched Sesame Street, but I don't recall crack dealers and whores conducting business outside Mr. Hooper's Store.

Posted by: Fishchum at April 11, 2012 12:55 PM

I don't live on Sixth itself.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 11, 2012 1:44 PM

I think it is the height of arrogance for Marth Bridegam to think that Sixth Street should remain a place characterized by violent and criminal activity in order for her precious, Western SOMA to remain edgy. Well guess what? Neighborhoods change. The Mission started out Irish, became Hispanic and now it's hipster. If you want edgy, move to Oakland. It's got edge to spare. But be quick about it. After the SFBG's article about how all the cool people are moving there you may alreadyh be too late. http://www.sfbg.com/2012/04/10/san-franciscos-loss

Posted by: Patrick at April 11, 2012 6:52 PM

Oh, I get it Martha - you're content to let 6th Street fester as a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes, and other assorted low-life criminals so it keeps your street in western SoMa "edgy"?

What a complete load of self-serving BS.

Posted by: Fishchum at April 11, 2012 8:51 PM

I guess I need to clarify the meaning of "descriptive versus normative" as used above. "Descriptive" means describing what is happening. "Normative" means saying what ought to happen.

The stuff Patrick and Fishchum seem to dislike is descriptive and they're taking it for normative.

With that understanding, please go back and read what I wrote in response to JK415 above.

And, Patrick, you can tell me to move to Oakland when you are willing to guarantee exact replacement of the three-inch bougainvillea stem that we trained on our porch railing as a tendril. Or, no, probably not even then.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 12, 2012 9:47 AM

I owned on Langton around the corner for only about 2 years I can attest that the sixth street crowd is less of a barrier and more of a gradient that extends into western soma. Nothing about 7th to 9th between Folsom and Howard is Sesame Street, especially at night. Spend an hour at the corner of Langton and Howard and you'll see what I mean. I hope the best for that neighborhood and especially hope that SF wakes up and finds a place to house the mentally insane that wonder the streets.

Posted by: SR at April 12, 2012 9:42 PM

Yeah, like I said, western SoMa's not for everyone.

Guess some folks would rather get assaulted with Louboutins at Fillmore and Greenwich. No accounting for tastes.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam at April 13, 2012 11:39 AM

A group of folks in the neighborhood who have some concerns about these plans have formed a google group to share more information as it becomes available. If you are interested, please feel fre too join:

http://groups.google.com/group/langtonSF (click “Apply for membership”)

Posted by: Alex at April 18, 2012 9:21 PM

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