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There’s a New Plan to Destroy Iconic SF Dive Bar Lucky 13

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After five years of false alarms, this one might be it

Lucky 13 Lucky 13

It’s been a wild five years for fans of Market Street dive bar Lucky 13. The bar, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last April, is known for its dog friendliness, punk-leaning jukebox, and imminent demise, as in 2015, news broke that plans had been made to tear down its building to make way for a residential structure. Those plans failed to come to fruition, but now a new design has been proposed, one that would — again — shutter the longstanding watering hole.

Lucky 13 wasn’t the first bar to open in the building at 2140 Market Street. The structure, which has a cornerstone dated 1906, was first intended as a clubhouse for fraternal order Woodmen of the World. It eventually morphed into a nightlife destination, and in the 1970s hosted gay dance clubs including Alfie’s, The Mind Shaft, The Prism, 2140 Market, High Chaparral, The Corral, and The Industrial Dance Company, Hoodline reports.

Though the spot is considered a “historical resource” by the city, the building isn’t an official historical landmark, making the single-story property (and its adjacent parking lot) on Market Street’s desirable corridor an attractive target for builders since at least 2002, when a condo development was proposed for the space.

That threat passed, Lucky 13 manager Martin Kraenkel said, and it wasn’t until 2015 that the threat of its destruction rose again: In March of 2015, Forum Design drafted plans for a 31-condo building that offered a 32-bike parking zone, but no room for the storied bar. Much rending of garments and tearing of hair ensued.

After the furor, silence. Well, not silence, as Lucky 13 is known to be rowdy and very, very loud, but no noise from bulldozers, etc, as the destruction plan seemed to stagnate. That is, until 2017, when Ankrom Moisan Architects filed a demolition plan with the city, this time for a five-floor, 27-unit building. This time, there was a weird side note: Days later, the bar’s notable murals were painted over, surprising Kraenkel and Lucky 13 owner Brian Spiers.

The now mural-less bar kept on pouring, and plans to destroy it stalled yet again — this time, because the structure’s owners decided to sell it instead of build. It grew easy to forget that the bar was in any danger at all.

Last December, Macy Architecture brought a new plan to the city, its buyers (who scored the spot for a reported $9.75 million), another residential development that would have to start the planning process all over again. After those plans, little movement was seen, and — still — Lucky 13 lived on.

With a track record like that, without seeing a wrecking ball hitting the actual side of the building, it feels foolish to report that the bar is about to close. But Hoodline reports that residents of the area recently received official city notification of the biggest building ever proposed for the Lucky 13 site, a nine-floor, 90-unit building that would encompass the bar, its parking lot, and an adjacent building.

While previous reports on the bar’s demise have been met with resignation, this time community members seem more frustrated. One factor seems to be a neighboring construction project that also took the place of a restaurant: 2100 Market Street, the former location of Home restaurant, which was shuttered in 2011. The spot stood vacant for years after the community spurned a Chipotle that attempted to move into the space. Instead, a short-term rental development was built in its place, a structure that angered area folks who’d assumed the building would contain housing for locals.

Speaking with Hoodline, neighborhood resident, retired labor activist, and Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Christine Costello says, “We already have three condo buildings on one block,” but that many of those units appear to be vacant. “The [Lucky 13] building is a historic landmark, and we’ve already lost so much of the charm in our neighborhood,” Costello said. “It’s not needed.”

Kraenkel says he prefers not to comment on the latest threat to Lucky 13, saying that everything he knows is on the notice that was sent to neighbors. The next stop for the project is the Planning Department’s pre-application meeting, which is open to the public — and if comments like Costello’s are any indication, it might be a fun one. It’s set for 6 p.m. on December 17, at 2134 Market Street.

Lucky 13

2140 Market Street, , CA 94114 (415) 487-1313 Visit Website