Alexandria Theater makeover plans get green light

Renovations to the run-down Alexandria Theater in the Richmond District have finally received a key approval after almost ten years of planning.

The San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to revamp the theater and add housing units to adjacent parking lot on 18th Avenue.

Mary Woods, a staffer at the San Francisco Planning Department, said plans on the theater side include adding 6,300-square-foot of retail space on the ground floor, having a single-screen theater on the second floor with 221 seats and 7,300-square-foot restaurant on the second floor.

Plans for the adjacent parking lot include 37 housing units and two floors of underground parking. Four of those housing units will be below market rate, said Woods.

Jonathan Pearlman, the architect for the project, said many of the theater’s distinct features will be kept intact, including the blade sign, marquee, box office area and neon parking sign.

Since the theater shut down in 2004, many residents have complained about the lack of upkeep from owners. The theater has been the target of graffiti and foul odors near the main entrance of the Alexandria.

A community meeting in October last year prompted owners to put a chain-link fence at the main entrance and hire a janitor to clean up the graffiti.

A few weeks ago, someone broke into the theater and ripped off small plaques, said Pearlman. There was also graffiti inside the theater.

The latest vandalism incident prompted Planning Commissioner Kathrin Moore to add a condition that the owners provide more security at the theater until the project is complete to prevent further damage to the theater.

The commission also added a provision that it must approve any changes to the design or materials for the project.

Anyone interested can view renderings of the renovation at SocketSite.