San Francisco’s Lone Star Saloon has become the city’s first gay bar to earn “legacy business” status under a recently voter-approved program to protect culturally significant businesses from developers and their wrecking balls. The Examiner reports:
When landlords sell their buildings, the “for sale” sign can feel like a death sentence for the businesses operating there, which are subject to the whims of new owners hoping to maximize their profits or attract new tenants.
Home to the Lone Star Saloon, the two-story building at Harrison and Dore streets that dates back to 1907 is up for sale. The modified building is not considered a protected historic resource by the Planning Department, so the land may be redeveloped.
The Lone Star is 27 years old, and businesses 20 years or older may apply if in danger of displacement — a special exception within the program. The bar cleared its first hurdle as a legacy business at Wednesday’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting.
Since opening in 1989, the saloon has helped to define and celebrate gay bear culture, shaping and sheltering its community of muscular, motorcycling men, according to its application.
Cultural contributors like the Lone Star are exactly what the Historic Preservation Commission, tasked with determining whether applicants contribute to their community identity and neighborhood’s history, wants to see. Legacy status will require physical parts of the bar’s identity to remain unchanged, like the back patio, wooden bar and ephemera collection of street signs.
It’s important to note that legacy status does not offer absolute protection for the Lone Star, as the “$4.50 per square foot per year” grant offered by the city may not be enough to sway the building’s owners from selling. All of the SOMA area, like much of San Francisco, has been red-hot real estate for years. Learn more about the program at SFist.
RELATED: I don’t know about “muscular, motorcycling men” but in the photo above you might see a familiar shortish dude facing the camera in his Obama 2012 hat. Props to my pal Chris for picking up on that at the SFist link.