Alexandria.jpgTheater Development Plans Open To Public Comment In “One to Two Months” Says SF Planning Dept

Plans for the Richmond’s unoccupied Alexandria Theater are close to being revealed. According to Rick Cooper of the San Francisco Planning Department, the environmental review is almost complete and they are “proceeding fairly quickly toward the publication of the Mitigated Negative Declaration.” Once released, the public will have a chance to comment.

Regarding the six-year planning process, Richmond district supervisor Eric Mar explained, “I’ll just say we have patience with our city departments. But this is one of our priorities.”

A summary of the Appeal’s previous report on the Alexandria appeared on Sarah B’s Richmond Blog, prompting Mar to clarify his stance on the theater. The Supervisor spoke with the Appeal today to comment further.

Mar has been privy to some of the plans under review by the Planning Department, and described the possibility of an expansive restaurant or supper club inside the old theater building. “My understanding in the latest proposal is that they have plans to maintain some of the art deco features in the exterior and the interior. The 8,000 square foot restaurant [they’re planning] is not to interfere with any of the murals,” Mar said.

The District Supervisor said his goals for development of the space include “significant space for non-profits” as well as “15% affordable housing” in the mixed use residential building that is being planned for the adjacent parking lot. “I think we need affordable housing in transit-rich environments like 15th and Geary,” Mar said. He also expressed concern over parking and traffic problems that might come with development.

Mar also said that the theater lot may soon change hands from Alexandria Enterprises to Landmark Enterprises. The parking lot would not.

One non-profit Mar would especially like to see gain access to the building is the Richmond YMCA. The Appeal previously reported that they had a lease for daily use on the Alexandria. Tiffany Patterson, Executive Director of the Richmond YMCA, refuted this information. “The only thing we do with Alexandria Enterprises is rent 10 parking spaces behind the theater. We haven’t even been paying for the space on the marquee,” Patterson said.

The SF Department of Building Inspection initially told the Appeal that the building could not be considered vacant in part because of the putative lease.

“We’ve discussed the possibility of taking over the first floor after the theater is renovated, but that hasn’t gone anywhere,” explained Patterson.

As for farmer’s markets, which Mar said he has discussed with multiple community groups, the prospects aren’t good. “It takes a lot of community action,” Mar said, adding, “We’re hoping if it’s not the Alexandria, we want to find other open spaces bring people together.”

Mar does think the theater should be registered as a San Francisco Landmark or a Structure of Merit. “I was surprised that it isn’t,” the supervisor explained. “I hope to have discussions with a number of preservationists about the best way to preserve [and] why it’s not a structure of merit or a San Francisco landmark.”

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