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The first I ever knew of the old Fat City building on Pacific Highway was probably when I saw the original Fattburger band, with founder Hollis Gentry, playing there as the house band, circa 1986. I'd been noticing the distinctive sci-fi exterior for years, without ever stepping inside —

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From the minute I walked into the building and saw the vintage car sawed in half and mounted on the wall, I loved the place.

The historic Art Deco Streamline landmark at 2137 Pacific Coast Highway, built in the early 1940s as Top's Nightclub, is threatened with demolition by the Centre City Development Corporation and architect Jonathan Segal.

In May, the CCAC Pre-Design Subcommittee heard Segal's presentation of his Fat City Lofts. There to speak against the project was SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation) and the Neighborhood Historic Preservation Coalition.

"Segal told SOHO to stop trying to save everything and basically said to leave him alone," says opposition organizer Dan Soderberg, vice president of SOHO. "He bragged that he is a preservationist architect. Wow."

Here are some vintage pics of the building:

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Here's the Fat City Lofts that Segal proposes to build in its place:

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"Jonathan Segal is marshaling this project thoroughly from every angle," according to Soderberg. "He hired people in various fields to accomplish this, including one individual that developers frequently hire to write a report saying something isn't historic. His ducks are all lined up. I'm sure the process can't move fast enough for him even though this is moving forward with very rapid succession."

This project has already sailed through two CCDC subcommittee meetings, where committee members made discrediting statements about the historic building (claiming its original decor has been destroyed over years of refits, up to its most recent incarnation as a Denny's), while other members heaped praises on the Fat City Lofts project.

"This facility is indeed a historic site," says preservationist Jim Bregante. "[Meeting] audiences are amazed at the entertainers who performed there, such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and many more.... Many of the Italian families in the neighborhood had their children's wedding receptions at the Tops night club."

"While attending a reception as the best man for my close friend, I met a lovely girl who I married a year later. I know I was not the only person who experienced life-changing experiences at Tops. The Tops facility is a historic place for me, for the neighborhood, for all the good people who grew up in my families era and for the city of San Diego."

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Soderberg is asking the public to support preservation of the building. "Please attend the city's Historical Resources Board on June 23, 1:00 p.m. on the 12th floor at City Hall. The community is encouraged to attend and speak up. A litany of reasons will be given for demolition. So, it's important for the community to show up. Fill out an opposition slip. You also have the option to speak — which is most desirable."

"The more people the board hears from, the better."

A Save Fat City/Top's Nighclub Facebook page has been set up at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Fat-CityTops-Nightclub/142855149120007 .

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Comments

danwhitehead1 June 14, 2011 @ 4:55 a.m.

TUE14JUN11

Well, why not tear down an interesting piece of history and replace it with yet another ugly, sterile structure born of an ugly sterile mind (to say nothing of small and greedy)? I mean, after all, the city's full of 'em now. I propose a moment of silence for the real San Diego, the San Diego destroyed and ruined by the vast swarms of loathsome two-legged locusts that swept in from the outside and destroyed it all; the San Diego that no longer exists.

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Gregory May June 14, 2011 @ 7:30 a.m.

Even as a kid about 10 years old, I remember driving by on our family's way to the airport to pick up relatives and seeing the Fat City Building (Top's Night Club) and pointing and saying, "Wow! Look at that!" A kid even knows IT'S SOMETHING; Something that should not be demolished, trashed like it was nothing... it IS SOMETHING! It's a landmark that is part of our San Diego experience, and should remain so.

All the Streamlined-Moderne is being yanked-out like bad teeth in San Diego... A few blocks away, The Pacific Square Ballroom, up the road a bit on Broadway, Tower Bowl, further up Broadway, the Ford Dealership building, and further inland on El Cajon Blvd, the State Theatre... Top's Nightclub building is THE last remaining of Streamlined-Moderne buildings in San Diego, and it's a beauty! Let's KEEP IT!

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