Photograph courtesy of Telestar Logistics

By the looks of it, Gus Murad, one of the neighborhood’s most polarizing movers and shakers, has left the building.

Several buildings, in fact — all on Mission, between 21st and 22nd.

Value Giant is the process of being sold for $4.5 million, according to one realtor. Elements Hostel and Medjool Bar were recently listed for a combined $7.1 million.

And the New Mission Theater, where Murad once envisioned condos and entertainment? On sale for $2 million. Maybe already taken.

“We’re talking to a very hot group from New York on coming in to the New Mission Theater,” says realtor Colleen Meharry. “I’m not allowed to discuss this right now, but if I’m able to pull this off, this will be the biggest thing I’ve ever done. Because it’s historic, you have to keep everything original. From the balcony to the urinals.”

But Murad had his own plans for the New Mission Theater. Why pull up stakes now?

For reasons as much personal as financial. “He’s so angry at the city for blocking those condos that he wanted to build on top of Value Giant. He’s resigned from the Small Business Commission. He resigned from the Business Improvement District. He’s got a new baby.”

“Look,” says Meharry, “Murad is one of my dearest friends. But you can’t pin him down. He’s like a moving target.”

Murad was not your typical Mission landlord. He was appointed to the Small Business Commission by then-mayor Gavin Newsom. He not only had a spokesperson, but that spokesperson, PJ Johnston, just happened to be the president of the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Johnston did not respond to e-mail requests for an interview with Murad.

Over the last few years, Murad’s holdings in the Mission were investigated with a vigor that some thought unusual for such a politically well-connected figure. When Murad was investigated for failing to file paperwork that proved that he was renting out the nine rooms in Elements that were slated for long-term tenants, Johnston described the investigation as “unusual” and “curious.”

“It sure seems like Gus is being singled out all of a sudden,” he said. “Nothing has changed on our end, but it all of a sudden appears to be a problem in some quarters.”

The case looked bad for Murad for a while, but ultimately resolved in his favor.

But then there was the matter of the roof deck. And those 20 feet over Value Giant.

The 2500 block of Mission Street is an interesting case — a business improvement district of exactly one block, where owners of multiple properties, like Murad, loom large.

The district intends to be nicer — much nicer — than the rest of Mission Street. It successfully petitioned the Board of Supervisors this summer to raise the property taxes for everyone on the block, in order to pay for extra security cameras and floral arrangements.

According to Meharry, the block’s future is equal to that of Mission Street’s old days as the “Miracle Mile.” Meharry herself is in the process of putting in a nightclub on the block that is, in her words, much bigger than Foreign Cinema.

And then there’s the matter of the New Mission Theater

“Let me tell you,” she says. “you think the Mission’s hot right now, but if this deal goes through, the Mission is going to explode.”

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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  1. Would be great to see some of these developments finally go through and the New Mission restored to glory. Too bad Murad is giving up but maybe someone else can make it happen.

  2. The New Mission Theater, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, is of immense historical and architectural value. Timothy Pflueger, whose biography should be required reading for every Mission resident, built it, and it was, at one time, comparable to his Castro and Paramount Theaters. I hope it can be re-purposed with strong attention to its values, which is the point of its being listed. But know that ANY attempt to preserve the history and architecture of the Mission which in any way hints of gentrification, will be vigorously fought by those elements whose ideas of history go back no further than 1950.

    1. Yes, the opposition is unfortunate. It’s sad to see people want to perpetuate poverty and keep themselves down when our neighborhood could be safer and more fun.

  3. Any possibilities of affordable housing being built on this block?
    “Revitalization” can be great – as long as local residents and mom and pop stores have a say in it

  4. All exploding and vomiting hipsters aside, it would be wonderful to have New Mission Theater revitalized. The ad hoc ‘neighborhood coalitions’ have been very good at cutting off the nose to spite the face. As a long-term resident I’m a little tired of it.

  5. I don’t want the Mission to explode. I’m happy to see revitalization, but many of us actually really do live here (meaning we sleep here, or we try to, anyway.)
    The streams of drunken hipsters staggering back to their cars at christ o clock in the morning is a major pain in the ass.

    1. “Hipsters,” a fairly amorphous group which seems to basically mean young Asians and Whites, can be noisy. Noisy as in 1/10 as noisy as psychotic bums, screaming junkies, gun shooting gangsters, barrio blaster radio cars, etc. I’m not detecting an increase in noise accompanying an increase in hipsters.

  6. I almost vomited about six times reading this article. Having Medjool close is the best thing that could happen to the Mission…. Sorry Colleen, but the whole world does not revolve around if something is “hot” or not. I hope all of these projects fail and am glad that Murad will be gone. He violated rules and laws to profit and created a yuppie Marina outpost in the Mission. Good riddance….

    1. You hope “all these projects fail?” What’s your vision for the Mission’s future? More SROs, more homicides, more ODs, more fires?

    2. I am a long time resident ( born and raised in the mission with periods of time living in other parts of the bay area) My family of mexican descent owns an aprtment building in the mission where they still live and I also moved back a few years ago. So happy to see new business move into the area. Tired of the type of people who think its ok to pee in the street, sell drugs out in the open and also the attitude of the city to allow more than one half way house to be put on one city block. Change is coming whether you like it nor not. I would like the change to incorporate the good traditions of the ethnicity of this n’hood but not at the expense of holding back revitalization.