Frequently asked questions about the reuse of the Harding Theater and responses from the Friends of 1800

Harding Theater - San Francisco

What are the Friends trying to do?

To promote a viable alternative plan to reuse the Harding Theater for performance and community purposes, to be thoroughly vetted during an open public discussion.

What is wrong with the developer’s plan?

It is too soon to tell. First, we need a responsible process to explore and critically assess alternatives that could capitalize on the stage and other theater features of the Harding.

The Harding is derelict and an eyesore; hasn’t it been vacant long enough?

We agree that a plan is needed for the Harding, and soon. We should not act too quickly because we may miss an opportunity that will not come again.

Aren’t people who want to see a live performance theater on Divisadero dreaming?

We don’t know until we vet the options. It is easy to prejudge. The more challenging and potentially rewarding approach is to identify and evaluate alternative feasible reuses. We don’t know the answer, and we don’t think others should jump to conclusions.

How long will this process take?

We can’t say for sure. We are committed to proceeding diligently with our coalition partners.

What about the owners’ investment?

The owners’ investment should be respected. The Friends will work toward a superior alternative plan that will be acceptable and profitable to the owners.

What about parking?

We recognize that parking is a factor. Parking will be being surveyed as part of the alternative plan. We think there are nearby sources with significant parking capacity that can be tapped.


Why the Friends of 1800 support the effort to save and reuse the Harding Theater. ››Read more.


On November 13, 2009, the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to uphold the Friends’ appeal and require an Environmental Impact Report for the Harding Theater conversion project. ››Read more.


The Friends appeal letter of October 28, 2009 to the Planning Department includes Attorney Arthur D. Levy's history of the development project as well as arguments for the EIR. ››Click here to view (PDF).


On August 13, 2009, the sponsor of the Harding condominium project presented a revised plan to demolish the stage and stage fly to build 8 condo units. ››Read more.


"I sent two architects with whom I've been working ... to see the space and give me their opinion of what could be developed if the stage was lopped off.... We discovered that the loss of the stage... and the high fly above the stage, will certainly doom this building to piece by piece demolition." »»Read Ron Merk's letter to the Planning Commission.

"Congratulations on bringing some sanity to our lives. Losing so many local theatres has been painful —without them, we lose a core resource ..." »»Read letter from Paul Quinn to the Friends.


SF Bay Guardian - 01/20/09
Preserving Historic Preservation
The Historic Preservation Commission's intended role to strengthen the SF's commitment to historic preservation

SF Chronicle - 12/17/08
Fundraising effort for the Harding Theater

SF Bay Guardian - 11/14/08
Harding Theater - The Show Goes On
Planning's unanimous approval for a full Environmental Impact Report.

Curbed San Francisco - 11/14/08
Show's Over: Hard Knocks for Harding Theater
SF Curbed at odds with the EIR decision halting the condo/retail development plan.

SF Chronicle - City Insider - 11/14/08
Stage Fight
Developer intends to sell theater after unwillingness to preserve the stage and orchestra pit.

SF Bay Area Guardian - 11/12/08
Last Stand at the Harding Theater!
Article includes letter from Richard Reineccius, founder of SF's Neighborhood Arts Program and co-founder of the Julian Theater of SF.

SF Chronicle - 08/29/08
San Francisco Plan for Old Theater

SF Examiner - 08/13/08
Fight for Theater Begins Second Act

Beyond Chron - 04/20/05
Harding Theater/San Francisco's Public Hearing Process is Broken. "The biggest obstacle to a resolution that satisfies all sides appears to be the mechanism for ensuring that the developers, or their successors, keep the commitment not to demolish."

SF Bay Guardian - 02/02/05
Offscreen Drama: Who will win the fight over the Harding Theater?

SF Bay Guardian - 01/26/05
Letter by Jim Siegel to SF Bay Guardian
"The need is for affordable housing, not more expensive condos."

Home Events Advocacy Viewpoint Preservation Links - Resources Contact us.