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New Castro Theatre Plan Includes Motorized Raked Floor w/ Removable Seats

The motorized floor makes both raked seating and tiered standing arrangements possible
By - posted 1/30/2023 No Comment

After much pushback, Another Planet Entertainment’s Castro Theatre has a revised plan for its interior seating.

Vocal opposition wants the theatre to keep its interior seating as is, but Another Planet hopes to install a state-of-the-art motorized raked floor. The motorized floor makes both raked seating and tiered standing arrangements possible. In addition, Another Planet argues that this improvement creates a more accessible layout and better sight lines for patrons.

Entitlement applications have been filed and hearings for the Project are currently scheduled for March 2023.

Read more about the controversy at SF Chronicle, or read The Castro Theatre’s Renovation Plan Update posted on its website:

“Many of the Castro Theatre’s historic features are deteriorating, and will need significant capital investments in order to repair and restore them. APE will invest in excess of $15 million to rehabilitate the Castro Theatre. In order to pay for these improvements, the Castro Theatre’s programming must become much more flexible. The primary components of the Project are as follows:

  • Historic Restoration. Many of the character defining elements of the Castro Theatre will be cleaned, restored, and repaired. Most importantly, the decorative ceiling, which is suffering from past inappropriate treatments, will be repaired and restored. The wall murals will be cleaned and minor repairs will be made. The decorative proscenium, which has not been visible for decades, has been recently revealed by APE and will be repaired, restored, and made visible once again. Existing historic light fixtures will be repaired, restored and relamped throughout the building. Careful restoration and relamping of the central chandelier will allow it to shine light, once again, on the decorative ceiling to expose rich colors and exquisite detailing that have been obscured for more than thirty years.
  • Changes to Seating. The proposed new seating program for the orchestra level of the Castro Theatre allows flexible reconfiguration of the venue, permitting a more diverse set of programming — seated events and film — on stepped tiers replicating the existing sloped floor; standing room concerts, fundraisers, seated dinners and more. This added seating flexibility is critical to the proposed programing.The existing house seats, which were installed in 2001, are replacement seats that are not original to the Castro Theatre. The new seats that will be installed will be comfortable and appropriate for seated events, including film viewing. Attached as Exhibit A are renderings of the proposed new flexible seating program.

    The raked concrete floor is not a distinctive feature of the building and it does not exhibit the level of craftsmanship that would elevate it to the status of a character defining feature. The raked floor consists of a concrete slab with a function wood strip floor laid over it. These flooring features lack the detail and ornamentation that give the Castro Theatre its unique character.

  • Mechanical Systems Addition. Currently there is no circulation of fresh air in the building and no cooling system of any kind. There are two residential-grade heating units, that are wholly insufficient to heat the cavernous venue. The Castro Theatre simply cannot continue to operate this way, especially with the current emphasis of indoor air quality and sufficient fresh air. When the Castro Theatre was built 100 years ago, modern heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems were in their infancy. Not surprisingly, the Castro Theatre was not constructed with these systems in mind. The ornate interior wall and ceiling finishes present formidable challenges to integrate a modern HVAC system without seriously impacting these precious finishes. The changes to the seating system described above present an opportunity to distribute the conditioned air from below the floor surfaces allowing the walls and ceilings to remain unchanged.
  • Increasing Accessibility. The current rake (aka slope) of the orchestra floor is too steep for ADA accessibility. It is approximately twice as steep as the 1:12 pitch of an accessible ramp. The proposed tiers will include ADA lifts and ramps that meet current standards, allowing equal access for all patrons. Lifts are specifically called out in the California Historic Building Code as potential solutions for sensitive historic properties.

Castro Theatre Project – The Outreach

Throughout this process, starting January 19, 2022, APE has been open and transparent with the community regarding their proposals and goals, and have engaged in a robust outreach program. Attached as Exhibit B is a chronology of all of APE’s community interactions and outreach completed to date. The Project team will continue to engage with any community members or stakeholders who wish to discuss the Project and provide input. In addition, as questions are raised, APE has continuously updated the Project’s FAQ page on the Castro Theatre website.


There is an inherent tension between land-use policies and goals when they involve historic resources. On the one hand, we want to preserve as much of the historic fabric of the physical structure as possible. On the other hand, we must recognize that change is inevitable, and proposed changes to historic resources must consider economic realities.

While the Project is not before you on February 1, the landmark status of the Castro Theatre is closely related to and will have a direct impact on the feasibility of the Project. We hope you will agree that the Castro Theatre can both retain its incredible historic character while at the same time becoming a more flexible entertainment venue that will continue to add character and vitality to the Castro neighborhood.”



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