Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nob Hill Community Prevents Fairmont Hotel Demolition Condo Conversion

A group called the Historic Nob Hill Historic Steering Committee, myself included as a local business owner, were miraculously able to stop the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel condo conversion project I posted about a while back.  The plan was to demolish an old section of the historical Fairmont Hotel, a 15 story building, to rebuild a new structure where people could purchase condos.  It would have been the largest demolition project ever in the area since the 1906 earthquake.

The mass mailer (above), newspaper ad and article blitz is what the opposition hotel owners put out in a last ditch effort of desperation to trick San Franciscans into thinking they had no choice but to support the project or the hotel would go under. (Note: This is the same type of scare tactic the banks in Wall Street used to steal trillions from tax payers in 2008).  They even opened up a Facebook page called Save Our Hotel.  The San Francisco Chronicle even obliged to help the hotel owners' cause trying to fool its readers as well.

Concerned Nob Hill citizens, including notable architects such as Alice Carey & Co. Historic Preservation and a pro bono attorney, were among many who protested at San Francisco Planning Commission meetings.  The primary issue was that the new owners of the hotel, in a rush to make money off of selling expensive condos, were implementing a structurally flawed plan without proper consideration for the surrounding community.  For instance, they had some crazy plan for a parking structure to support the condo conversion that had little regard for the real issues of traffic congestion in a tourist area.

Here's an earlier email showing what the local community was up against:
"Heretofore the Fairmont project team has virtually ignored us. Our effort caught them off guard and left them flummoxed an kerfuffled. With your help they will soon realize we are powerful force to be reckoned with.Alice Carey for Historic Nob Hill Steering Committee
San Francisco has an unusual policy of allowing the public full input it strongly considers prior to its Planning Commission approving new building structure plans.  Other cities could care less and just press forward so it was refreshing to be involved in something of this nature.
"Today the Fairmont signed an agreement with Local 2 (hotel workers) not to pursue the Fairmont condo conversion project. They will withdraw all applications to the Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  As many of you may have read Lew Wolff, whose organization owns 50% of the Fairmont, stated his intention to sell.

Thank you all for your letters, public testimony, and support. Alice Carey for Historic Nob Hill
When the people win over greedy developers, it's so refreshing in this day and age.  Clearly, the Fairmont Hotel will survive not having a portion of its rooms converted into condos. Thanks to all those who attended meetings and wrote letters to help the steering committee's efforts!