Photo by Tony Perrie

One of the owners of the Elbo Room said this week that the popular bar at the corner of Valencia and Sycamore streets will not be closing anytime soon and explained that it was the owners of the building who made the formal inquiry exploring the idea of a condominium project.

He and his partners own the business, not the building, Matt Shapiro wrote in an email. Dennis Ring and Susan Rokisky-Ring, the owners, purchased the 1915 building in 2005 for a little over $1 million, according to property records.

Shapiro said the owners are “close friends” and have no plans to act on their proposal. “They just want to know what they can or cannot do with the property way down the line.”

The Preliminary Assessment by the Planning Department, first reported on SocketSite Friday, was a response to an application the owners filed in September for an assessment.

The Planning Department’s November response gave the owners 18 months — until May 15, 2015 — to fulfill a number of requirements including an environmental review and a “pre-application meeting with surrounding neighbors and registered neighborhood groups.”

Orin Goldsby, of Kermin Morris Architects, who is listed in the Planning Department documents as the project manager, declined to comment on the project and said he would pass questions on to the owners.

The owners have not responded to requests for an interview. Shapiro said they were on vacation, but he felt assured that they had no plans to move forward with the project.

After SocketSite reported on Ring and Rokisky-Ring’s application Friday, Mission Local and other sites followed.

Shapiro responded to the news on Facebook saying the Elbo Room would not close.

Socketsite countered by citing the documents.

When asked to explain on Monday why he insisted the Elbo Room would stay open despite the formal inquiry, Shapiro explained that he did not own the building, only the business. But he stressed that the owners were not seriously considering the proposal. “If it were imminent,” he said, “I would be freaking out.”

The Planning Department’s assessment describes the project as “a mixed-use building approximately 9,200 square feet in size and containing nine residential units (the units would range from approximately 500 square feet to 1,000 square feet in size), six parking spaces, and 770 square feet of commercial space. The proposed building would be five stories and approximately 55 feet in height. The proposed mix of units is three one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units.”

Although the owners have not responded to inquiries, it is clear that even if they want to proceed, many hurdles remain.

The obstacles to putting a condominium project in the space include an environmental review and a historic resource evaluation because the property “may have associations with the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals in San Francisco…,” the Planning Department concluded.

In addition, the owners are required to hold a pre-application meeting with the community and submit an environmental evaluation, “Conditional-Use Authorization, or Building Permit Application,” no later than May, 15, 2015, according to the assessment.

Once that date is passed, a new Preliminary Project Assessment is required, according to the documents.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Get rid of it and turn it into condos. The bar is a toxic dump that only whiny, entitled hipsters patronize.

  2. So because the bar had maybe once been a gay bar, it has some special status and designation that makes it harder to convert to another use?

    Er, why?

    1. “Maybe? Once?” You have no clue about Mission history, or this bar/location. No surprise.

      A little hint for you…

      Google it.

      1. Every old building in this city has a story, should we designate every single one a landmark for one reason or another? Or should we prioritize easing the housing shortage by encouraging building new units?

      2. Whatever. My point was that the fact that it used to be a themed bar for this or that has no interest or relevance to what should happen to the building now UNLESS the building has some great architectural value, which it clearly does not.