Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

SF Castro area bar Churchill a step closer to upstairs expansion

Courtesy Churchill bar

Courtesy Churchill bar

The Churchill bar in San Francisco’s Castro district is one step closer to being able to expand into an upstairs space.

The planning commission today (Thursday, February 4) on a unanimous 6-0 vote recommended the Board of Supervisors approve a proposed zoning change to allow the bar to do so.

Know for its specialty cocktails, the bar is located at 198 Church Street on the corner of 14th and Market streets across from the Safeway shopping center. It has an existing second floor, that once housed a medical cannabis dispensary, that it would like to incorporate into the bar.

It had been renting out the area as a special events space, but according to the planning department, it was doing so without proper permits. And under current zoning rules, bar-type uses are not allowed on second floors in buildings along upper Market Street.

To allow for Churchill to legally expand into the second floor, the bar’s owners worked with the office of gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, planning staff, and neighborhood groups to revise the zoning rules.

Under the proposal, which must be passed by the supervisors, a bar on upper Market Street would be allowed to expand into a second floor space if it had not been used for residential in the last five years, there was an existing internal staircase connecting the two floors, and did not expand the building’s existing envelope.

“We are definitely supportive of the entitlement of the second floor for this particular bar in question. They have been a good neighbor,” said David Troup with the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association. “Allowing an event space for parties is a good thing. We don’t have enough of those in the neighborhood.”

As written, the zoning change would only allow Churchill to expand. There is a possibility of seeing the rules revised to allow other upper Market Street bars or restaurants also make use of second floor spaces in the future.

But Troup voiced concern about seeing the planning commission expand the zoning change to cover other businesses since that has not been fully vetted by the community.

“I am a little weary to lend support for a general expansion of this to restaurants,” he said. “We haven’t wrapped our heads around that yet.”

Planning commission vice president Dennis Richards, a former DTNA president, suggested he would like to see the rules revised so restaurants on upper Market Street could potentially expand to upstairs spaces similar to the Eureka Restaurant and Lounge on 18th Street in the heart of the Castro district.

Such a possibility, said Richards, “I think it is great.”

Should the supervisors adopt the zoning change, then Churchill’s owners will need to apply for a conditional use permit from the planning commission in order to utilize its second-floor area.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 4, 2016 @ 3:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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