For once, let’s cut to the chase. Above, you’ll see a picture of a bar on stilts. This two-story project, the actual name of which is currently unknown but should obviously just be “The Bar On Stilts,” is currently moving through the planning stages at 609 Davis Street — an address much better known as the current home of Rainey Street-adjacent and Bridget Dunlap-owned drinking establishments Clive Bar and Bar Ilegal. (The latter of those is the best bar in the entire district other than Half Step, and if you disagree with me please post an angry comment because it’s great for our numbers.)
Clive Bar, housed in a converted Craftsman-style residence dating back to about 1920, will remain at the site. This development is just an expansion by the bar’s owners, and in fact, the stilt structure won’t even connect to the original building directly.
The most current street view of the Clive Bar site from the same perspective as the rendering and illustration seen above — looking pretty much directly south from Davis Street. You can line them up in your head and get a pretty good idea of the scale, if you feel like it.
The Clive Bar house isn’t actually considered a contributing property to the Rainey Street National Register Historic District, but additions in the district still have to put on a little show for the city’s Historic Landmark Commission and receive their certificate of appropriateness, which is why we now have these stilt-tastic renderings from the commission’s meeting held earlier this week. Okay, the architects technically call them “steel piers,” but c’mon! They’re stilts!
North Arrow Studio, the local firm behind this project’s extremely unique appearance, is no stranger to strange bars after designing Container Bar directly across the street from here. This project will relocate the old Clive Bar building’s entrance to face Rainey Street instead of Davis Street, which makes sense due to the fairly pedestrian-unfriendly atmosphere of Davis Street compared to Rainey Street proper — this district, as you might already know, has some problems with that.
Other than the relocated door and a nice new roof for the old bar, the new building is the main concern at this site. North Arrow’s principal, architect Franciso Arredondo, presented the project to the commission as a respectful contribution — somewhere between an addition and a new construction, keeping the separation between the past and future structures in mind — to the existing bar, which is apparently doing well enough to need more floor space without throwing out all of its old-school charm.
…the new structure appears to be several buildings. This is achieved through breaking up the roof line, plan layout for 1st and 2nd level, and implementing an open-air aesthetic. Furthermore, a different yet complementary color palette and a majority of the building materials will be harmonious with the existing building. These design decisions clearly differentiate between old and new and help to create a tone of reverence and a direct acknowledgement of the importance of the existing building.
— North Arrow Studio
That’s honestly the way we’d prefer Rainey Street to grow, since once the old houses converted to bars in the first wave of the district’s gentrification are gone, they’re really gone, and even interesting structures like Container Bar don’t quite match their charm. (The question remains if literally sticking those bungalows into the wall of a skyscraper also preserves that charm.)
Though the architects have already adjusted the scale of the project once based on comments from commission staff, the item has been postponed until next month’s meeting so its architects can “refine” the new structure’s design with the HLC’s certificate of appropriateness committee — still, we’re only expecting minor adjustments at most based on the comments we heard from commissioners at the meeting, which essentially boiled down to “everything on Rainey Street has changed so much this project can’t do any more damage.” Lots of positive folks over there!
Here’s what Clive Bar looked like in 2007.
With the ongoing development of the Quincy and the anticipated 90 Rainey project that will swallow up Container Bar just across Davis Street from here, Clive Bar’s owners clearly anticipate a little bump in attendance. Going a couple floors up while maintaining the integrity of the not-quite-historic but still 100-year-old building at this site is the sort of compromise that should leave every reasonable person happy, so hopefully its architects can get the commission on board with a few more tweaks.
Bars adding density is honesty kind of a new concept for us, but between this and the Banger’s expansion it’s obvious every last square foot counts on Rainey Street — even when you aren’t building a tower, although there’s no shortage of those here either.