140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Monday, February 22, 2010

Battle brews over concert plans for Masonic Center

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO—A battle continues to brew over a proposal to make an auditorium in San Francisco's upscale Nob Hill neighborhood a major entertainment venue in the city.

The Masons of California have proposed making $5 million to $6 million in renovations to the Masonic Center, including installing a state-of-the-art sound and light system and increasing the capacity of the auditorium from 3,282 people to 3,500.

The Masons would then lease the auditorium of the 1950s-era building to Live Nation, a Beverly Hills-based live-events company, which would arrange about 70 concerts a year, according to an official with the Masons.

The increase in the number of performances would bring more entertainment dollars to San Francisco, instead of the money being spent at entertainment venues in other cities, according to the plan's backers.

"It was at one time a very vibrant facility in San Francisco ... and it still can be today," said Allan Casalou, grand secretary for the Masons of California.

But area residents have come out in opposition to more concerts, arguing it would bring more traffic, crime and noise to the neighborhood.

Stephen Gomez, who's lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, and a coalition of neighbors have urged steps be taken so peace is preserved in the neighborhood.

"If you do things cleverly and you plan accordingly, you can address a lot of this stuff," Gomez said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has called
on his economic development chief, Michael Cohen, to try to get the two sides to reach a compromise.

San Francisco's Planning Commission was expected to take up the issue, with the Board of Supervisors making a final decision on any possible appeal.

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