Teatro ZinZanni Finally, Maybe Headed Back To S.F. Waterfront… In A Few Years


By Jay Barrman

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October 13, 2014 – Three years have already passed since the zany, circus-meets-cabaret-dinner-theater Teatro ZinZanni had to pack up its tent on Piers 27-29 to make way for the America’s Cup and now the permanent cruise ship terminal. And there’s still no definitive date set for its promised return, or even an approved plan for where it would live, even though the city and the Port had said two years ago that the show could move to the lot that’s currently occupied by surface parking, on the opposite side of The Embarcadero from the show’s original home, at the intersection of Broadway.

Teatro ZinZanni has been more of a roadshow since 2012, and they still have a sister show in Seattle, though the historic spiegeltent they used in San Francisco remains in storage. They launched the show near Fisherman’s Wharf in 2000, and it kept up a successful run for 11 straight years before having to shut down.

All this time has passed without a plan, as the Chron reports, largely because of money. The powers that be want to give Teatro ZinZanni more than just a temporary home, and this means having to build a larger project on the lot — which is now proposed as a four-story, 175-room hotel. The hotel would be themed around ZinZanni’s old-timey circus/cabaret aesthetic, and the “signature red velvet and gold brocade spiegeltent [would be] enclosed in a gazebo with floor-to-ceiling glass stretching along the Embarcadero.” This would allow passing tourists to see backstage activity.

Teatro ZinZanni artistic director Norm Landgill has made it clear to the city that he’s been courting other options in other parts of the country, one of which he may take if this deal continues to be delayed.

The Board of Supervisors killed a 2005 plan for a hotel on this same site largely because of the proposed 65-foot height. This hotel plan is shorter and smaller, and so far, allegedly, the vociferous Telegraph Hill Dwellers group has seemed supportive.

So here’s hoping that no one puts together a ballot measure to oppose this waterfront project, and here’s hoping this doesn’t take another three years. Though who are we kidding — it probably will.

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