At the regular meeting of the Port Commission on April 12th, more than a dozen people urged the body to accept a term sheet—basically, the amount and conditions of a lease—for Teatro ZinZanni, the circus dinner theater hoping to return to the waterfront along with a partner hotel and privately run public park. There was no public opposition.
Current view of site at the Embarcadero and Broadway. (Rendering: Hornberger + Worstell Architects)
Proposed hotel on site. Rendering: Hornberger + Worstell Architects
This was just an informational meeting; the commission will vote on it at its next meeting on April 26th. It did not address the recent flap with SF Planning, which questioned a number of elements of the project, most notably the use of the historic spiegeltent, which will be enclosed in a gazebo made of special bird-friendly glass. The report surprised both Teatro ZinZanni representatives and many neighbors, who have shown nearly unanimous support for the project in letters and at public hearings.
Rendering: Hornberger + Worstell Architects
The term sheet shows that the Port of San Francisco will earn more from the lease to Teatro ZinZanni and TZK, its hotel partner, than it does from the parking lot that's at Embarcadero and Broadway now. The parking lease currently is projected to yield more than $14.2 million over the next 20 years if it remains, while Teatro ZinZanni's base rent would be more than $17.1 million in the same span, with projected rent (due to "upside participation" by the Port) projected to exceed $29 million.
The parking lot proposed to become the new home of Teatro ZinZanni. (Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline)
Following a brief presentation by Ricky Tijani, the Port's development project manager, Teatro ZinZanni supporters during public comment urged the commission to OK the term sheet. They cited everything from the union jobs that the project would bring to the cultural and entertainment benefits for the neighborhood.
Paul Pendergast, director of public policy for the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), said, "The outreach process has been exceptional with this project... These are absolutely the types of jobs that the GGBA likes to see supported here in San Francisco." Representatives of nearby groups the Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association and Golden Gateway Tenants Association spoke in support, too.
Teatro ZinZanni performer and opera singer Kristen Clayton gave an impassioned speech that mentioned the spiegeltent specifically. "There's really nothing like the spiegeltent in the United States, and it belongs in San Francisco as a cultural icon," she said. "As a performer, the interior is so inspiring and so connected to our show. It's not something I can even imagine doing in a regular proscenium theater. It immediately transports our audiences into a luxurious world of velvet and lavish yesteryear, and they instinctively leave their troubles at the door, and time and time again, are carried away for our show's three-hour presentation. Teatro ZinZanni is not your average night out in San Francisco, and our spiegeltent guarantees that unique experience."
At the end, Commission President Willie Adams said he wishes more projects were like this, on the fast track with no opposition. "I think they have a world-class brand, and I'm very supportive of it," he said. "I think this is going to be something new and amazing as we continue to transform our waterfront, and I'm glad they're back."
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