Music Venue Deathwatch: Hemlock Tavern's Days May Be Numbered

Most days we here at All Shook Down try to present an optimistic outlook on San Francisco's music scene, no matter how the influx of wealth into this city has affected the artists, venues, and industry veterans who call it home.

Some days, that's harder than others. Hoodline is reporting that the Hemlock Tavern — the Polk Street bar/music venue that's long been a friend to local punk, metal, and indie rock fans thanks to its reliably jam-packed calendar of affordable (we're talkin' $5) shows — may be slated for demolition, along with other businesses on the 1100 block of Polk Street, to make way for a six-story mixed-use building.

[jump] Hoodline found that the Dolmen Property Group, the developers who previously brought you such hit condos as the $3,000-a-month lofts of Civic Center's “The Lofts at 7,” filed a Preliminary Planning Assessment with the city for 1145 Polk Street, the commercial building that houses the Hemlock, back in November of 2014. That's just the first step in a long list of applications and meetings and mandated community outreach developers will face before seeing the plans through to completion, mind you; emphasis here is on the word preliminary. Still, the project reportedly describes plans to raze the existing building, which was built in 1906, and construct a new one, with first-floor retail spaces and five floors of studio apartments — 54 in total.

Hemlock owner Don Alan told Hoodline that the club's current lease runs at least until 2021 and that he hasn't been contacted by the building's owners about any changes.

Anthony Bedard, the Hemlock's longtime booker (not to mention a staple of the city's punk scene and the man behind the genius Twitter account Folder Rock) echoed that statement in an email to SF Weekly. “The Hemlock has an ironclad lease that runs through the summer of 2021,” he wrote. “After that, it's within the realm of possibility that the building owner may opt to not renew our lease. Regardless, we plan on operating as a live venue and bar for the next 6-7 years. Don has no plans to end the lease any earlier than 2021, nor has he been contacted by the present or future owners of the building about doing so.”

We've reached out to both Alan and the Dolmen Property Group for comment and will update this post when we know more.

In the meantime, let's appreciate what we've got while we've got it, shall we? The Hemlock has shows every night this week. And nothing seems more appropriate right now than the milk-curdling punk misanthropy of San Francisco's Life Stinks — on Valentine's Day, no less.

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