Hundreds show up in protest of SF's historic Castro Theatre renovation plan

Plans include fixing the ceiling, a moveable upstairs bar, removing lower level seats allowing for standing and sitting

J.R. Stone Image
Friday, August 12, 2022
Hundreds protest SF's historic Castro Theatre renovation plan
A management group is planning to renovate the Castro Theatre which involves removing lower level seats allowing for standing and sitting.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Dozens of people were inside the Castro Theatre in San Francisco on Thursday with one message: "Save the seats."

It's in reference to a management group's plan to renovate the Castro Theatre, a renovation that involves redoing the lower section of floor seats.

At one point, a standing ovation could be heard at the Castro Theatre. It was the crowd's way of showing the management group that those in attendance were not happy with the renovation plan, which involves tearing out and replacing all of the lower level floor seats and, in the process, changing the orchestra floor.

"Save the seats! Save the seats!," yelled one man in the crowd.

"They obviously believe they can make more money without the seats," said Peter Pastreich, who is the executive director of the Castro Theatre Conservancy.

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Another Planet Entertainment manages the theatre and plans to do a full scale renovation. This includes fixes to the ceiling, a moveable upstairs bar and a plan to take the lower level seats out and make it an area that allows for standing and sitting.

"It's tiered seating and within each of those tiers, we also have staggered chairs of different heights, so everyone has a gradated experience of looking at the front stage or front screen," said Colby Jones of Another Planet Entertainment.

In fact, at one point when the plan was presented to residents, there were "boo"s.

"At the end of the day, a business has to generate business, and I think the best way to do that and also make the experience really good for people -- because I think that's the component also missing -- recognizing, that if people have a good time they are more inclined to return," Jones said.

But protesters lined up in shirts that read "Save the seats." The theatre is a historic landmark, but that status applies to the actual building, not the seats inside.

"I want to know what the seating capacity is. Is there a seating capacity here?" one man in the crowd said.

RELATED: SF's historic Castro Theatre to be transformed into live music venue

Those from Another Planet Entertainment say there is an estimate that only around 100 fewer seats would be available. Some are concerned about the renovation bringing change to the neighborhood.

"I'm concerned about what happens when 500 to 1,000 straight rock 'n roll bro's fan out into our neighborhood and take over queer spaces," another man said.

"It is not the case, that the only way to make money in the rock business, is if you have no seats," Pastreich said.

The timetable for all of this is up in the air. Permits are required before renovations are made and those from Another Planet Entertainment say that process is likely to start in the fall.

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