San Francisco’s historic concert hall hits market for third time in a century
We Dance ? That’s the question Compass Commercial California is asking buyers with its “undisclosed” asking price for San Francisco’s historic Regency Ballroom.
The brokerage house classified the 1909 65,000-square-foot building along the Van Ness Corridor with an emphasis on its development potential, not its current use, as what its sellers have called “the largest. West Coast private entertainment venue ”.
Listing agent and president of Compass Commercial California, Steve Pugh, said he couldn’t reveal a price range or say what other recent sales were used as compositions for the unique property. He said via email that he and his team needed to “create a ‘out of the box’ assessment strategy” that takes into account the central location of the place as well as its combination of “architectural significance” and of “future possibilities”.
“Price or pricing expectations are harder to meet with properties like The Regency. It is certainly not a square hole opportunity where comparable sales are readily available, ”he said.
The property has not changed hands several times since it began life over a century ago as a Masonic Lodge for the Scottish Rite. Masons sold it in the 1960s and it was used as a movie theater, banquet hall, and dance studio for almost four decades. Scott Robertson and brothers David and Lee Banks bought the property over 20 years ago for $ 3.7 million. Their initial plans to renovate the Fine Arts building to retain the cinema and dance studio while adding office space evolved into its current use as an event and music venue, Pugh said.
Concerts and events have been hit hard everywhere since the pandemic, particularly in San Francisco, where city regulations have left many nightlife venues closed for more than a year. Yet Pugh didn’t mention COVID when he explained why the longtime owners decided to sell.
“The property had the honor of serving as steward of the Regency for many years and now thinks it is time to pass the torch and allow a new visionary to take the property in the future”, a- he declared.
This vision could involve continuing the current primary use of the building as a concert hall for up to 1,400 people. It has been run by concert promoter Goldenvoice since 2008 and has hosted headliners ranging from Morrissey to the Wu Tang Clan to Cyndi Lauper. He has concerts scheduled until June 2022.
The future owner could also take advantage of the building’s zoning and location near a large Sutter CPMC campus to add multiple levels to the five-story building for medical offices or residential condos. The current historic building could become anything from a gym with a swimming pool to a private dinner club, according to marketing materials. The whole building could also be transformed into a ‘trophy corporate headquarters’ with a ‘spectacular roof terrace’.
Whatever property becomes, it will take years of planning and licensing, with an emphasis on historic preservation, in a city that cannot even accept turning a department store parking lot into much-needed accommodation.
Despite the potential hurdles, Pugh said that since the building hit the market last week, “the opportunity has been welcomed” and it has been approached by “a diverse group of investors.”
“Many are of course familiar with the current use and in fact some have attended concerts and other events there,” he said. “It’s difficult at this early stage [to say] what type of investor group will find the most attractive opportunity.