The El Rey Theater, which hasn't functioned as a movie house in many decades, may finally have a chance at redevelopment as plans for the property were recently resubmitted for preliminary review by the Planning Department.

You may recall that this 1,800-seat theater at 1970 Ocean Avenue was sold at auction in 2016 after its longtime owners, a Pentacostal church called Voice of the Pentacost or A Place to Meet Jesus, defaulted on the mortgage. The property has long been a redevelopment dream for residents of the Ingleside and Mt. Davidson Manor neighborhoods, and in 2017 it was designated a city landmark. (In addition to being a grand Art Deco/Moderne movie house designed in 1931 by architect Timothy Pflueger, one of the retail spaces adjacent to the theater was the first-ever location of The Gap in 1969. The movie theater closed in 1977 and the church had owned it ever since.)

As Socketsite reports, developers had submitted plans in 2019 to renovate the theater and retail spaces and add condo units to the rear of the property, on what's now a parking lot. Those plans were rescinded before receiving formal review, but now they've been resubmitted and Planning has offered some promising feedback.

Per Socketsite, there was no significant objection to the plan for 42 condo units on the rear of the property, however it was recommended that the couple of units situated atop the retail wings of the structure be moved so as to "minimize the impact to the historic resource."

Rendering showing the condo additions via Goldman Architects
Elevation showing minimal visibility of the condos from the front, via Goldman Architects

Instead, Planning suggests that the developer and architect explore ways to add more units and density to the rear portion, especially with the state's new Density Bonus Program. Under that program, the developer may be able to get a waiver on the 45-foot height limit currently imposed on the property, and go up even higher with the condo development.

New plans are likely now being drafted prior to a submission for formal review by Planning, dates TBD.

Related: Historic El Rey Theatre Threatened As Property Gets Sold At Auction