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Hibernia Bank, Jewel of the Tenderloin

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Much admired but long neglected, the Hibernia Bank building at 1 Jones Street makes an appearance this Thursday before the Historic Preservation Commission's Architectural Review Committee. The lovely Beaux-Arts building was designed by architect Albert Pissis and finished just months before the 1906 earthquake and fire. Pissis rebuilt and expanded the bank and it opened again in 1908, and subsequently suffered a long decline over the decades before ending up as a police station in the '90s. It's been vacant since 2000 and purchased by the current owners in 2008, and they're now anticipating its renovation as offices and an "assembly venue." Whatever that means. Why now? At Jones, MacAllister and Market Streets, the building is a key piece in the Mid-Market puzzle. Developers who've looked at it in the past wanted to add levels that would have destroyed the historic interior, but the current proposal offers a compromise. There seems to be one critical and possibly deal-breaking detail– the proposed removal of the banks teller counters, which interfere with using the vast central banking hall as anything except a bank. The owners are offering a compromise by removing some of the counters and giving it more party-friendly layout:

?asks for specific input from this Committee regarding this subject as without a viable alternative to leaving the teller’s counter as is this project is doomed. ?the Project Sponsor purchased the building in an attempt to restore and preserve an important snapshot of Irish American history in San Francisco. However, this may not be achieved if onerous requirements are imposed on renovation or requirements are made that render the adaptive reuse of the building impractical or infeasible."Hibernia" was the name given to Ireland by the the 1st Century Roman historian Tacitus, and the Hibernia Bank was a financial manifestation of the growing Irish population in San Francisco after the Civil War. In addition to the expected seismic, fire and safety upgrades, the epic document submitted by the developer includes a history of the Irish in San Francisco up to their post-WWII diaspora to the suburbs, the Hibernian Bank's attempts to accommodate the growing female workforce with a dedicated penthouse lounge, plus the proposed changes to the building incorporating historic elements by Elevation Architects.
· Architectural Review Committee, 1st item (.pdf) [SFPD]
· Elevation Architects> [Elevation Architects]