Fresh plans for Alexandria Theater site

If you never experienced the Outer Richmond’s Alexandria Theater in its heyday, you’d probably be spooked by its current deteriorated appearance: trash littered by its front doors, graffiti on its windows.

But those who grew up in the area know the abandoned building, located at 5400 Geary Blvd. and 18th Avenue, was once a majestic Art Deco movie theater.

Its palatial interiors housed audiences since 1923. However, it wasn’t until seventy years later that I sat in its red velvet seats — flushed and sweaty — as a boy slipped his hand into mine on my first date.

It’s these types of memories that have made it unbearable for residents to watch the beloved theater decay during the past eight and a half years. Amid increasing complaints, Supervisor Eric Mar is finally calling a hearing on Oct. 12 to address continuing care and plans for the building.

Though there were plans last year to redevelop the space into a 250-seat theater with a mixed commercial retail and residential space, things have been eerily quiet since then.

Peter Lauterborn, legislative aide to Supervisor Mar, recently told Richmond SF Blog that a redesign for the development plan has slowed down its reconstruction:

“[The planners] claim the new design should fit in the neighborhood better.”

The community meeting, which will be held at the Richmond District YMCA at 6 p.m., will address how the site will be cleaned in the short-term, and include a presentation by the architect and city planners behind the development plans.

Alfonso Felder, president of the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, said he’d love to see the Alexandria put back into productive use. He told the Ex:

“The interior is still in pretty good shape, but the exterior is getting pretty worn. We would like a more presentable facade.”

If you’re curious to see the inside of the abandoned Alexandria, a sneaky reader from Richmond SF Blog recently snapped shots of its interior.

For those who want to wander down memory lane, this photo album will remind you of the Alexandria’s glory days.