There’s excitement in the air, and nervousness. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, which will develop the project, can sense hurdles to come as it transforms the historic New Mission Theater into a five-screen cineplex.
Tim League, Alamo’s founder, writes in a blog that the company will operate the New Mission in much the same way it does the Ritz Theater in Austin, another renovation of a historic 1929 building (that one was a single screen turned into a two-screen theater). “We will be featuring a mix of classic film programming, our unique alternative content and live events, foreign films, independent films as well as some studio films,” League wrote.
Calling San Francisco his “favorite city in the world” and the place where his parents met, he writes, “I immediately fell in love with the New Mission Theater, and we quickly set plans in motion to make a deal with the owner to renovate and restore the property.” That property and proposal were discussed Wednesday at the Architectural Review Committee meeting.
There are some interesting background details in League’s post; for example, the New Mission Theater would be the first cinema Alamo would operate outside of Austin. He also posted some photos that he took while touring the property.
Tim Frye of the San Francisco Planning Department said that Wednesday’s meeting was only an exchange of ideas between commissioners, the project architect and Alamo’s developer. With the committee’s suggestions, the project will be updated and submitted as part of the bigger multi-use project — which includes turning the former Giant Value space into condos — that is already undergoing environmental review.
Frye said they hope to bring the proposal to the public by early fall and get final approval from the Historic Preservation Commission to move ahead with the next round of permits — from the Department of Building Inspection — soon thereafter.
League described his plans for the theater’s renovations in his blog post, writing, “We are planning on a full and complete historic renovation. Even though our plan is to subdivide the balconies into small boutique theaters, we will be doing it in such a way as to preserve nearly all of the amazing architectural details of the space. We would still preserve the massive downstairs screen and transform that space into a potential premiere venue with state of the art sound and picture.”