Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Deal in fight over SF LGBT historic site expected to pave way for trans district

LGBT advocactes are fighting to preserve the properties at 950-964 Market Street that once housed several gay bars and other businesses with ties to the LGBT community. Photo: Kelly Sullivan

A deal is expected to allow for demolition of Market Street properties once home to several gay bars and other businesses with ties to the LGBT community. Photo: Kelly Sullivan

A deal in the fight over a San Francisco LGBT historic site is expected to be reached that will pave the way for the creation of a transgender historic district in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

As reported by the B.A.R. last week, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim had been working to broker an agreement between Group I and LGBT activists who had appealed the planning commission’s decision last year to allow the developer’s massive in-fill project at 950‐974 Market Street to move forward.

The buildings there were once home to several gay bars and a shoe store that helped facilitate gay and transgender prostitution and hustling in the area. The development fight garnered national attention in November when photos were circulated purporting to show underground spaces below the Market Street buildings some claimed where used by patrons of the former gay bars to elude police raids.

The Q Foundation, on behalf of a number of LGBT activists, filed an appeal calling for greater scrutiny of the proposed development’s environmental impacts, including if demolition of the existing structures would hinder forming a smaller transgender historical district in the area.

It would be named after Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, a 24-hour eatery that had operated nearby at 101 Taylor Street and was where transgender and queer patrons rioted against police harassment in the mid-1960s. City planners had argued saving the Market Street structures was not necessary for establishing a transgender historical district in the surrounding area.

Over the weekend the parties came to a deal, making the scheduled hearing by the Board of Supervisors at its meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, January 31) moot, Steven L. Vettel, an attorney for the developer, informed the B.A.R.

“I’m writing to confirm that the parties reached a final agreement last night that will allow the appeal to be withdrawn before the January 31 hearing,” Vettel wrote in an email Sunday.

In a phone interview this afternoon, Q Foundation founder and director Brian Basinger told the B.A.R. that an agreement was imminent.

“It looks like a deal is coming together,” said Basinger.

The Compton’s historic district promoters are set to announce the withdrawal of their appeal in front of City Hall at Noon Tuesday, said Basinger. At the press conference Kim is also expected to announce she will be formally introduce legislation to form the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District. Kim’s office has yet to respond to the B.A.R.’s request for comment.

“The big news is we are creating this first ever transgender cultural district,” said Basinger. “As we create these efforts to preserve the longest continually occupied TLGB neighborhood in the country, we are starting with the T first because these efforts are meant to invest in the transgender community first.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 30, 2017 @ 3:43 pm PST
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