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SAN FRANCISCO-San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theater and the Exploratorium museum are in the process of negotiating new leases with the city for the Palace of Fine Arts complex in the Marina. Since 1970, both organizations have had $1-per-year deals, but the contracts expire at the end of the year.

The Exploratorium is planning to renovate the museum, and museum officials have expressed an interest in taking over management of the theater as part of their multi-million dollar project. The group has proposed to lease the whole building, which includes the theater.

However, the Palace of Fine Arts, who has operated the theater for 30-plus years, does not want to hand over the theater. The organization received a term sheet last spring from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which is the landlord of the complex. The Exploratorium received the same sheet.

The Exploratorium responded with a proposal to lease the entire building, but the Palace of Fine Arts Theater failed to respond, perhaps because of a lack of funds to meet the new lease terms.

Under the current lease, the league has the right of first refusal. Still, the Exploratorium has a financial advantage.

The Exploratorium plans to upgrade the complex’s appearance, moving the museum entrance to the center of the building, lining it up with the famous rotunda and colonnade. The city views this as a major bonus to the Palace of Fine Arts property.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has stepped in on this dispute, offering a resolution that the theater will remain a venue for arts and community groups. It will be voted on by the city.

City officials will allow the theater to continue operating until the dispute is settled.

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