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Palace of Fine Arts Will Have Hotel or Restaurant

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The next entity to occupy the Palace of Fine Arts will have either a boutique hotel or a restaurant as a cornerstone, despite an online outcry that drew the support of more than 20,000 people and many pleas offered during a Recreation and Park Commission meeting yesterday. The commission unanimously accepted a package of three proposals, giving each the go-ahead to submit a fully developed concept in May. When the number of proposals was winnowed from seven to three late last month, the fact that they all contained a substantial commercial element generated an outburst throughout social media platforms. The position of the opposition is summed up in an online petition on "We demand that the Palace of Fine Arts be developed ONLY as a cultural/educational center."

At the Recreation and Park Commission meeting, the San Francisco Examiner reports that dozens of San Franciscians spoke out against having a hotel or restaurant on the site. However, Commission President Mark Buell countered with a statement saying the century-old Palace has long been home to commercial operations, including the last long-time tenant, the Exploratorium. "The Exploratorium paid us over half a million dollars a year in rent," Buell said. "Prior to that, there were tennis courts, there [was] military storage… It's always been a commercial piece of property."

The Examiner reports that the next occupant of the Palace would be required to cover something like $20 million in improvements, including seismic upgrades. In that light, having a healthy source of income might be essential.

Earlier, the San Francisco Chronicle summarized the chosen proposals:

- Maybeck Center at the Palace would have a luxury hotel and interactive history exhibits.

- An as-yet-unnamed hotel that would include retail and exhibition space focusing on local artisans.

- The San Francisco Museum at the Palace Consortium would allocate a lot of space to exhibitions and/or programs that would emphasize the city's past, present, and future. It would also include what they call a "destination restaurant."

The online petition, authored by San Francisco resident Kirsten Selberg, carries a statement about the latest action: "None of those proposals preserve the site as the important cultural/educational center San Franciscans have known it to be, nor do they keep it a community space that is open and available to ALL people."

The Palace of Fine Arts was built as part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.

· Palace of Fine Arts Moves Toward New Tenant as Furor Grows [Curbed SF]
· Hotel, restaurant concepts for Palace of Fine Arts moving forward [San Francisco Examiner]
· Candidates to re-do Palace of Fine Arts winnowed to 3 [SFGate]
· Preserve the Palace of Fine Arts as a Multi-Cultural Arts/Education Center []