A Texas movie chain told the city’s Architectural Planning Committee today that their proposal for five-screen cineplex at the historic New Mission Theater will accommodate about 900 people, and have a new kitchen and bathrooms. A bar would replace the current projection booth on the first floor.

Today’s meeting was an informal exchange of information on a proposal by the Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. Alamo is now in contract to purchase the historic New Mission Theater at 2550 Mission St. from Gus Murad and Associates.

Murad, who also owns the nearby Medjool Restaurant and Lounge, put the restaurant, theater and the adjacent Giant Value store up for sale early last year. Giant Value has been under contract for sale since March 2011.

Both contracts, it appears, depend on city approvals for the multi-use entertainment and condominium development that Murad first put forward in the late 2000s.

That 2008 proposal, which includes condominiums in the adjacent Giant Value hardware store building, continues in the environmental review process.

Alamo will take today’s comments from the committee and incorporate them into its five-screen proposal.

As of now both versions of the New Mission Theater – for one or five screens – will be included in the overall proposal, according to Tim Frye, of the Planning Department.

Timothy Reed, the chief development officer of Alamo Drafthouse, said Alamo “is very interested in this project, so I think in everybody’s book we’re hoping that this is the one to go forward.” He stressed that five, not one screens, was the only economically viable option for Alamo.

Martinez questioned Reed’s assessment of the financial viability of keeping the cinema to two-screens to avoid such extensive changes.

With so many movies coming out at the same time, they need the flexibility of showing more than just two movies at a time, Reed said.

Reed also told the commissioners, Alan Martinez and Andrew Wolfram, that Alamo offered a different kind of cinema in that “we are movie fans.”

“When you see a gem like this in the Mission…being able to bring it back to its heyday, it’s very exciting,” Reed told the committee.

During the public comments portion of the meeting no one stepped forward. The commissioners, however, had recommendations for Frye and the architect, E. Toby Morris.

It’s a shame that the bathrooms will be reconstructed, said Martinez. “The tile work is really kind of nice and interesting.” He recommended that they take photographs to document the tile before tearing it out. At present the women’s lounge will be converted into service spaces and a commercial kitchen.

Can you see into the kitchen from the patron’s lounge? What will keep the guests from walking down these stairs into the kitchen?

Their idea: a cord to indicate staff only. You know, a “soft approach.” What about the smells drifting up into theater? “We think that’ll be nice, actually,” Reed said. To get the audience hungry, one assumes.

Wolfram’s biggest concern seemed to be about the lobby. He wanted the plans to preserve that sense of drama you get when walking into the lobby and seeing the auditorium to the side. Also, he said, make sure that as guests leave the auditorium they aren’t gazing right into the ladies room.

Mission Loc@l reported in January 2011 that Murad had put the theater and his other properties up for sale.

In March 2011, the Business Times reported that Murad had sold the Giant Value building to the Oyster Development Corp. At present, Oyster Development is still under contract to buy Giant Value, according to Dean Givas, the president of Oyster Development.

“In regards to involvement,” Givas said today, “I am managing the approval process for the joint approval of both project components. Construction financing would occur following receipt of approvals.”

It’s unclear if Murad will retain any ownership in the multiple-use project he first proposed in 2008.

The economic slowdown that same year put the brakes on the multi-use project, but the entry of new owners for the theater and Giant Value could revive it.

The city’s planning staff has recommended that the architectural commission approve the new proposal with some small design changes.

“The variant would maintain and restore the character‐defining elements on the exterior, including the Art Deco façade; free‐standing pylon sign with neon tubes spelling out “New Mission”; cantilevered marquee; and streamlined parapet,” the planning document states.

Today’s additional comments will be taken into consideration by Alamo. Neither the city or Alamo had a time frame for when final approval might come.

You can find proposal details here.

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  1. Went to the New Mission Theater many times as a kid. Hope it all works out.

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  2. If you want this project to go forward, don’t simply post a message on a website — attend the planning meetings to show your support if you can!

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  3. Please let this happen, Planning Department.

    It would be a huge boost for this stretch of Mission, and enforce another new culturally structural post in the revitalization of this area.

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  4. The Alamo Drafthouse is the Kabuki for the masses.
    Loved it in Austin!
    Definitely will love it here!

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  5. Yaay! Always wanted this theater to come back! Glad they don’t want to change the classic sign!

    p.s. better make sure to guard that side emergency exit door this time, lol.

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