Talks continue on fate of Clay Theater

There’s been no breakthrough yet, but negotiations are continuing between the owner of the Clay Theater and the San Francisco Film Society, which hopes to make the theater its home.

In addition, the owner’s architect has met with the CEO of Landmark Theatres, the current operator, about renovations that might make the theater attractive to Landmark as a long-term operator.

“We are actively engaged,” said architect Charles Kahn. He said it appears that both Landmark and the Film Society prefer a single-screen theater over his proposal to create three smaller theaters, and that owner Balgobind Jaiswal is agreeable. More contentious is Jaiswal’s desire to build four townhouses above the theater and excavate underneath for parking.

“The theater is secondary to their desire to build condos,” said Graham Leggett, executive director of the Film Society. “We worry it’s not going to be workable for us.” Getting permits and building the condos could take years, Leggett said, and require the theater to go dark during construction.

Kahn said the condos are essential to fund the renovation of the theater. He said the owner is “absolutely committed” to finding a way to save the theater.

Film Society leaders have met with Kahn three times, most recently with an architect of their own they retained to help shape the future of the 100-year-old theater. “It seems problematic at the moment, but at least there’s a dialogue,” Leggett said. “It’s a work in progress.”

EARLIER: How the Clay dodged a bullet