The former church on Fillmore Street now popularly known as the Church 8 Wheels was granted landmark status by the SF Board of Supervisors Tuesday, and while the property will be redeveloped into housing, its popular skate rink will reportedly stay intact.

If you’ve ever walked by the Church of 8 Wheels building that holds indoor roller skating parties on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you may have figured out that the place used to be an actual church. And if you lived in SF prior to 2005, you may recall that Fillmore and Fell streets building was the Sacred Heart Church, which closed in December 2004. But it’s now served as a roller rink for nearly ten years (Caitlyn Jenner even went there once), though its future seemed in doubt when a developer bought the property in 2020 with plans to raze it for housing.

But let the good times roll! While the developer called the Pollard Group still plans to build 41 housing units at 554 Fillmore Street, that developer will apparently allow the Church of 8 Wheels to stay, as the roller rink area will remain an event space. And on Tuesday, the SF Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a landmark designation for that building that aims to keep many of the architectural elements intact.

“It is my understanding that the owners intend to continue this successful collaboration,” with the Church of 8 Wheels, the district’s supervisor Dean Preston said at a March 4 Board of Supervisors committee meeting. “That activation is really a beloved use in the neighborhood.”

And in a statement after Tuesday's vote, Preston's office said in a statement that "With the historic landmarking status of this site, the owners have shared with Supervisor Preston's office their intention to continue this successful collaboration with [Church of 8 Wheels' David] Miles, which means that the church should continue to be a place for beginners and pros alike to put on their skates and groove to disco music under neon lights and stained glass windows."

The Church of 8 Wheels does not own the building, and never has. And the landmarking has nothing to do with the Church of 8 Wheels, and everything to do with the Sacred Heart Church. But the landmark designation status gives the developer city-sanctioned incentives to keep certain physical characteristics in place when the property is redeveloped into housing.

Image: Architects SF

As seen above, the plan retains the church’s nave (what we think of as the roller rink) and well as the bell tower and other unique elements. Large lofts and smaller apartment units are added to other components of the structure, which dates all the way back to 1898.

Image: SF Planning Department

The landmark designation applies to the whole “Sacred Heart Parish Complex” (546-548 Fillmore Street, 554 Fillmore Street, 735 Fell Street, and 660 Oak Street), which contains the former church, rectory, school, and convent. The designation acknowledges the church's Romanesque revival architectural style, stained glass windows, and bell tower, as well as its association with 1960s and 70s civil rights activist Father Eugene Boyle.

Not everyone was thrilled with the conversion to housing and preservation of a roller rink area.

“The thing I don’t understand is how a church goes from a church where you’re getting on your knees to pray, to falling on your knees on a pair of skates,” former parishioner Bertha Canti said at a February 26 Board of Supervisors committee meeting on the matter. “I think it's sacrilegious for that to be happening at a church.”

But it was the Archdiocese of San Francisco who chose to sell the building, as the Church of 8 Wheels' founder “Godfather of Skate” David Miles, pointed out at the same meeting.

“It was sold, okay? I had nothing to do with that. Whoever was in charge decided to sell it to people to develop it,” Miles said. “When we have people skating, I feel that they are living up to the religious purposes of what the building was for.”

A representative of the developer Pollard Group, Simon Yip, added at the same meeting that “The owner is ready to move forward with continuing to provide a community event space in the building, alongside some much needed housing.”

Obviously, there is going to be a construction phase during which the Church of 8 Wheels will have to skate elsewhere. But once that construction is finished, a rink within the preserved exterior of a church with housing units alongside will be how the Church of 8 Wheels rolls.

Note: This post has been updated with a Tuesday statement from Supervisor Dean Preston's office.

Related: Hallelujah! Church Of 8 Wheels Reopens After Renovations [SFist]

Image: Bruce C. via Yelp