The Richmond District’s long-vacant and decrepit Alexandria Theater could finally find new life as a 76-unit housing development, as the district’s supervisor Connie Chan and the building’s owner are finally on the same page. Maybe.
It was about a year ago when we first heard plans that the Richmond District’s long-abandoned and extremely shabby Alexandria Theater could become a 76-unit housing complex. And that whole idea seemed feasible, as the building’s new owners TimeSpace Group LLC had already put a 43-unit condo right next door, and offered original plans to put some kind of swimming pool complex at the theater that’s been closed since 2004. But last September, they changed their minds and proposed plans to make the whole property a housing complex.
Those plans have seemingly gone nowhere since. The only developments that have happened since at the Geary Boulevard and 18th Avenue location were the vintage sign being damaged by storms in January, and the district’s supervisor Connie Chan proposing to landmark the place in March, a proposal that seemed like it might excessively complicate any plans to build housing there.
But the Chronicle reported Tuesday that Chan and TimeSpace Group had agreed on a plan to build the housing project. Details are scarce, though TimeSpace did submit some applications to the SF Planning Department in August, and the Chronicle has a photo of Chan and TimeSpace founder Yorke Lee appearing to have a very cordial meeting at the site on Tuesday, so things appear to be going in the right direction.
“I am just so pleased that we are finally able to turn a new page for this historic site,” Chan told the Chronicle, saying she hoped to preserve some of the old theater’s aspects while adding in “some flexibility for housing and development.”
Per the Chronicle, TimeSpace Group is working with the city attorney and Planning Department to draft a development plan. That plan would still have to go before the full SF Board of Supervisors, though the Chron estimates the plan could be complete within two months. That seems optimistic, but it’s still too long for frustrated Richmond residents who’ve been looking at that crumbling eyesore for years.
“You could put in a mortuary, I don’t care, as long as it’s something,” neighbor Mark Dietrich told the Chronicle. “All of the red tape, all of the bureaucracy, all of the back and forth — neighbors are sick of it. They’re just sick of it, and they want change.”
But as far as that landmarking of the theater goes, that matter is still before the SF Historic Preservation Commission today, and currently appears as Item 8 on the agenda of their 12:30 p.m. meeting. Chan says she’ll be asking for that item to be tabled while the property owners develop their plans, so we’ll see what happens Wednesday afternoon. (Update: Sure enough, the commission delayed the landmark vote until November 1. A letter from Chan requested the delay "so my office and the property owners can continue to draft a development agreeement together.")
Still, though, Chan says that "several" constituents are still pushing for the landmark designation, and she seems to still support it.
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