Neighbors Get Update on Teatro ZinZanni

Night view rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell.
Night view rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell.
Drone view of rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell.
Drone view of rendering of Teatro ZinZanni at Broadway and the Embarcadero. Courtesy of Hornberger + Worstell

Neighbors living near the site of the proposed Teatro ZinZanni theater and hotel project at the Embarcadero and Broadway got an update on the project on August 7. The big news is: Not much has changed since the previous report, and the project is continuing to move through the city’s planning process.

If you’re just joining us on this issue, the circus dinner theater Teatro ZinZanni was a previous tenant on the waterfront from 2000 to 2011 at Pier 29, but its lease was terminated when the Port of San Francisco decided to host the America’s Cup and subsequently build the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27. The city promised Teatro ZinZanni could return, though, and the Board of Supervisors in 2015 granted Teatro ZinZanni a sole-source waiver to develop the hotel and theater on the seawall lots. It’s now heading into the approvals process and eventually building permits.

Annie Jamison, Executive Director of Teatro ZinZanni, Architect Mark Hornberger of Hornberger + Worstell and Jay Wallace of Teatro ZinZanni’s partner hotel developer, Kenwood Investments, provided details about where the project stands to board members and neighbors representing the Golden Gateway Tenants Association, Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association, Gateway Commons, FOGG, and others.

First off, the hotel project has added an additional 12 rooms on the interior of the project since we last received an update, for a total of 192-guest rooms now, but the addition of the rooms will not require a change to the exterior design, streetscape and building amenities, or mechanical systems of the building. Also, the city’s Architectural Review Committee of the Historic Preservation Commission preferred red brick exterior to the gold brick that had been proposed, and square-shoulder windows instead of arched windows and those changes have been incorporated into the project.

The city’s Planning Department at one point seemed unsure of the glass gazebo housing Teatro ZinZanni’s historic spiegeltent, but neighbors were told that hasn’t changed … with one caveat: Wallace said the developers are considering asking for permission to replace the glass roof of the glass-walled gazebo with a metal roof on the top of the glass-walled gazebo in order to reduce the high cost of building it completely in glass. Neighbors were cool to that idea, however, and Wallace said it was “not a deal-breaker.” Even if that happens, he assured everyone the bulk of the building would be glass and would provide a nighttime showpiece thanks to interior lighting.

All other elements of the hotel and theater project were the same as previously presented. The buildings won’t exceed the 40-foot height limit (plus the allowed 15 feet for mechanical equipment which will continue to be screened) and all of the street trees that exist now will remain. Also, it will include a privately managed park with security, and will include a cafe/coffee shop near Broadway and Davis Street and restaurant/bar near Broadway and the Embarcadero. All of these public elements ideally will spur foot traffic and activate the neighborhood.

As we heard previously, there will be no on-site parking, but a valet service will use the roughly 1,000 parking spots within a quarter mile of the site for hotel guests. Theater guests are expected to use ride services, taxis, tour buses or public transportation (the F-line streetcar stops at the intersection and the Embarcadero BART/Muni station is less than a 10-minute walk). Parking for personal bikes will be available, too.

The soil testings, historic review, and studies on traffic, wind and shadows have been submitted to the Planning Department, Hornberger said, and from here, the developers are about 90 days from beginning the public approval process so they can apply for building permits. The goal for the construction timeline is starting in summer of 2018 and finishing by winter of 2019. Developers are aware of the simultaneous sewer work starting this fall on the Embarcadero.

Neighbors asked if there would be noise, light and dust mitigation and were told yes, but the developers don’t have the details yet. All of the specifics will be in a public document disseminated to neighbors prior to construction as part of the project’s mitigated negative declaration anticipated for the project.

Neighbors also asked if public space would be provided to neighborhood groups for meetings and events at no charge, and were told there would definitely be opportunity to schedule conference rooms and meeting spaces for their use. Finding meeting space for large groups has been an issue for neighborhood groups in the past, so this was welcome news.