An initial RFP (request for proposals) went out last fall to gauge interest a revamped and reimagined Palace of Fine Arts complex. The Marina-adjacent complex, which along with the outdoor promenades and landmark portico, includes a 962-seat theater space as well as the big warehouse space that used to be home to The Exploratorium. And after 2016, the current leases for the indoor spaces will expire and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department is now entertaining seven separate proposals for renovating and reusing the complex, all of which will be presented for public comment in a meeting on Tuesday.

As the Business Times notes there's some "heated competition" between a couple of these proposals, which will require significant investment on the part of the bidder, including a required $10 million for historic preservation restoration work.

The Palace of Fine Arts dates to 1915, when in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fire and the subsequent rebuilding of the city, San Francisco re-emerged as a shiny city by the Bay via the Panama-Pacific International Exposition world's fair.

The proposals being presented are as follows, and will be narrowed down to a short list of finalists by September, out of which a final selection will be made in November.

  • The Bay Club Co., which has upscale fitness center complexes already in San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, and elsewhere throughout California, is proposing a 150,000 square foot athletic club and public recreational facility modeled on Chelsea Piers in New York. It would offer, among other things, tennis, basketball, yoga, bocce ball, boot camp, badminton and tournament facilities, as well as childcare facilities and outdoor movie screenings. Pricetag: $40 million.
  • The Center for Global Arts and Cultures is the only wholly arts-based proposal, which is kind of shocking. It's a collaboration of World Arts West, the Palace of Fine Arts Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation, and would include large-scale performance spaces, an arts technology lab, and "an international cuisines space" with consultation by Ms. Alice Waters herself. This is a two-phased, ambitious proposal costing three times the Bay Club's proposed complex, $130 million.
  • The Arcadium sounds a little wonkier, and less well funded, and would feature a "premier arts space, a destination market hall, and [a] holistic wellness pavilion."
  • Bladium Sports & Fitness Club is another gym-centric proposal but with four, indoor, multi-use playing fields, along with a small cafe and community events space.
  • The San Francisco Museum at the Palace Consortium wants to build something that sounds awful Exploratorium-like, which is a “interactive and educational” museum, along with a "destination restaurant," and retail and café kiosks, alongside the existing theater.
  • Equity Community Builders has proposed a Ferry Building-esque Arts, Crafts, Community and Hospitality center which would consist of a 700-square foot concourse and public market with "art installations, interactive exhibits, a cooking school, restaurants, cafes, and a small marketplace."
  • And, kowtowing to the Maybeck Foundation which helping with the selection process, developers TMG Partners and Flynn Properties are proposing The Maybeck Center at the Palace of Fine Arts, which sounds like a conference center and events facility complete with lodging, as well as "restaurants, historic displays, Exploratorium exhibits, Panama Pacific International Exposition Exhibits, and gathering areas," along with the existing theater.

Got all that? You can see all the proposals in detail here, and you can show up for the presentations by the bidders themselves at the public meeting Tuesday, June 23, at 6 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts.