Francis Ford Coppola, the owner of the prominent, green-hued flatiron building at the intersection of Columbus and Kearny known both as Columbus Tower and the Sentinel Building, is looking to convert most of the landmark building into a hotel, according to new plans submitted to the city.
As Socketsite reports, plans call for a 15-room hotel to occupy floors 3 through 7, which for the last several decades have been the headquarters of Coppola's American Zoetrope studio. An expanded lobby would be added on the Kearny Street side, and the existing cafe, Cafe Zoetrope, would reportedly remain. Also remaining are an 8th-floor penthouse suite, and a basement screening room.
The North Beach-adjacent building dates to 1907, and was actually under construction when the earthquake and fire leveled much of the city in 1906. The top floor was originally home to the headquarters of infamous local politico Abe Ruef, and the basement was home to a well known underground restaurant (read: speakeasy) during Prohibition called Caesar’s Grill. Later, in the 1950s, the basement space became the home of legendary comedy club the Hungry i.
Dutch-born businessman Rob Moor saved the building from demolition in 1958, renovating it and renaming it Columbus Tower. Moor then flipped the building in 1960 to the popular singing group The Kingston Trio, which turned it into their offices and transformed the basement into their recording studio.
The Sentinel Building, as it was renamed again in 1970, became San Francisco Landmark #33 as the preservation movement got underway. And Coppola bought it from the Kingston Trio in 1972, moving his studio (co-founded with George Lucas) into the upper floors and building a screening room in the basement. Lately, some of the upper-floor office space has been used by Pixar and Skywalker Sound sound engineers, as Wikipedia notes, as well as independent radio producers for NPR.