The long wait at the Fillmore Heritage Center

Opening night in November 2017 of the Fillmore Heritage Center, now empty for three years.

Opening night in November 2007 at the Fillmore Heritage Center, now empty for three years.

UPDATE: The wait will go on. City Hall has punted, announcing on November 3 that no decision will be made yet on what to do with the Fillmore Heritage Center. All five bids for the complex were rejected, and the process will start all over again.

JUST IN TIME, 1300 TAKES A TIME OUT

THEIR DECISION could have been made anytime since July 1, 2014, when Yoshi’s pulled out next door. But the owners of 1300 on Fillmore restaurant hung on, committed to the resurgence they helped spark.

They even doubled down and opened a barbecue joint across the street.

Finally on October 19 came the word: 1300 would close. Final call was on October 25, a closing party that former mayor Willie Brown called “a classic — more like the dance palace of the Fillmore of yesteryear.”

Owners Monetta White and David Lawrence insisted they are just taking a break — a “hiatus,” White called it — from trying to keep an upscale restaurant open on a lonely corner. Business has gotten slower and slower during the three years since Yoshi’s jazz club and restaurant called it quits, and city leaders have dragged out a decision about what to do with the space.

“Something had to be done,” White said. “We hope to revamp, revise and relaunch in 2018.”

David Lawrence and Monetta White greet diners at 1300 on Fillmore soon after it opened.

David Lawrence and Monetta White greet diners at 1300 on Fillmore soon after it opened.

In the meantime, Black Bark BBQ will continue and they will rent out 1300 and its Fillmore heritage lounge for pop-ups and private events.

“It’s a short-term decision for a long-term stay — hopefully,” White said.

Like nearly everyone else associated with the Fillmore Heritage Center — which houses 1300, the massive Yoshi’s restaurant and showroom, an art gallery, a screening room and a public parking garage — White expressed frustration with the city’s delay in finding a buyer for the complex. The project defaulted to the city when the developer went bust.

“Why is it taking them so long to deal with this building?” lamented White. “Who is in charge over there? They told me to hold for one year… it’s been three!”

Willie Brown spoke for many fans of 1300: “Thanks for the memories. Bring it back soon.”

‘It’s made a huge difference’

Chuck Louden is a longtime lifeguard at the neighborhood’s Hamilton Recreation Center.

Chuck Louden is a longtime lifeguard at the neighborhood’s Hamilton Recreation Center.

By DANIEL SCHILLER

If there’s a story that needs telling, you’d want Neil Hart to tell it. That became apparent one bright recent morning when, after a 3,000 yard swim, he turned to one of his favorite topics: San Francisco Tsunami Aquatics, the gay, lesbian, trans and straight-friendly adult swim league that has been a fixture at Fillmore’s Hamilton Recreation Center for three decades.

Hamilton’s dedicated aquatics community helped launch the team in 1986 and, in the aughts, helped renovate and reshape the multigenerational facility at 1900 Geary Boulevard the neighborhood’s diverse population enjoys today.

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Zen garden back on again

Renowned gardeners Shigeru Namba (right) and Isao Ogura are to create the Zen garden.

Renowned gardeners Shigeru Namba (right) and Isao Ogura are to create the Zen garden.

THE ON-AGAIN, off-again plan to create a memorial Zen garden at the foot of Cottage Row — once a Japanese enclave — is back on again.

On October 19, the Recreation & Park Commission approved the garden, a memorial to the founders of Japantown.

But approval on the commission’s consent calendar came only after another attempt to derail the project by the husband-and-wife team of Bush Street residents who have doggedly opposed the garden. Mary King and Marvin Lambert both argued again that honoring only the Japanese founders leaves out many others who have lived near Cottage Row.

So far they have managed to delay the garden, which was to be created last year in honor of the 110th anniversary of the founding of Japantown after the 1906 earthquake. At the October 19 hearing, Lambert repeatedly demanded that the issue be removed from the commission’s consent calendar. He said he has created his own memorial that would include all who have lived in the neighborhood.

But commission chair Mark Buell said the issue had already been discussed in a lengthy committee hearing and that only commission members could remove an item from the consent calendar. No one did. The garden passed unanimously.

EARLIER: “Cottage Row Zen garden sparks a fight

Alta Plaza makeover scaled back

Alta-Plaza-Master-Plan

The 2016 master plan for Alta Plaza Park.

GRAND PLANS to renovate Alta Plaza Park have been scaled back due to a lack of funding, but more limited measures to conserve water are proceeding.

The Recreation & Park Commission has awarded a construction contract to replace the sod and irrigation system on the north side of the park and to install perimeter drainage intended to address longstanding water seepage onto the sidewalks surrounding the park. Construction is expected to start during the winter, but the schedule has not yet been announced.

In addition, the project includes a “donor recognition circle” near the playground, which was renovated a decade ago, and a concrete driveway at Scott and Washington leading up to the donor site.

If funding permits, some new benches may also be added.

“Please bear in mind the reduced nature of this project,” wrote Janet Gamble and Anita Denz for Friends of Alta Plaza Park in an update to neighbors. “The entire north side will be excavated to replace the antiquated irrigation system and new sod will be planted. Some of the existing plants and shrubs will have to be removed and there is no funding for replacements now. The beds will be filled with mulch.”

A master plan for Alta Plaza approved by the Rec & Park Commission last year called for new pathways, furnishings and plantings. Those have been deferred.

From Fillmore to Union

Photograph of Moe Salimi, owner of Juicy News, by Lucy Gray

Photograph of Moe Salimi, owner of Juicy News, by Lucy Gray

RETAIL REPORT | LESLEY LEONHARDT

When Moe Salimi moved Juicy News from its longtime home at Fillmore and Jackson down the hill to Union and Fillmore in 2015, he was expecting a completely different neighborhood, even though he’d moved only a few blocks. But he didn’t find it.

“There are more similarities than I would have thought,” Salimi says from his perch in the bright front window of his newsstand at 2181 Union. “Only generational differences are apparent, with a younger demographic found on Union and more established families shopping in the old location.”

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New gallery has the baraka

Photograph of Shiffen, owner of Baraka Gallery at 1230 Fillmore, by Suzie Biehler.

Photograph of Shiffen, owner of Baraka Gallery at 1230 Fillmore, by Suzie Biehler

By FRANCINE BREVETTI

If you are a tribal man of Niger intent on wooing a lady, you will likely wear a Wodaabe tunic at the Geerewol festival. “That’s where the handsome men of the tribe compete in a contest of endurance and beauty,” explains Shiffen Melaku.

Your sister would have embroidered this ritual robe for you to wear at the weeklong festival where young people meet to find mates among the other cattle-herding nomads.

Here in the neighborhood, you can buy such a garment at Shiffen’s Baraka Gallery, formerly of Oakland, and newly installed at 1230 Fillmore.

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LOVING HIS COLOR

“Tribute to Romare Bearden,” a 2007 mixed media painting by Rhonel Roberts

“Tribute to Romare Bearden,” a 2007 mixed media painting by Rhonel Roberts

By KEITH HOWELL

Rhonel Roberts’ first love was music. But painting is his passion.

The two came together for the Fillmore resident in a series of artworks he created celebrating great jazz musicians — Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. His career took off when his painting of Masekela was chosen in 2011 for the Fillmore Jazz Festival poster. It was one of Roberts’ particular favorites because he remembered the trumpeter’s rendition of “Grazing in the Grass” playing at his 13th birthday party.

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A parking solution

Parking was blocked at 2615 California Street for years.

Parking was blocked at 2615 California Street for years.

By JOHN KAYE

I have walked the streets of Pacific Heights for years with my beloved dog, Bubba, and I have been noticing something getting worse: “No Stopping” signs are sprouting all over the streets, especially on Sacramento, Steiner and Fillmore.

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Bodhisattva of Browser Books

Latif William Harris (1940-2017)

Latif William Harris (1940-2017)

By ERIN C. MESSER

Latif William Harris — post-Beat poet, seeker and Bodhisattva of Browser Books — passed away on October 15 in Watsonville, California. He was 76 years old.

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Medical library is on the block

Architect Albert Pissis designed the library and the temple behind it.

Architect Albert Pissis designed the medical library and the temple behind it.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The classical Health Sciences Library at 2395 Sacramento Street may soon find a new use. California Pacific Medical Center recently disposed of its collection and vacated the space, the library having gone entirely digital. The building, which was designated a San Francisco landmark in 1980, is currently for sale at an undisclosed price, marketed as a “one-of-a-kind development opportunity.”

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