Developers of the New Mission Theater, one of the most iconic buildings in the neighborhood, will seek permission from the city on Thursday to rehabilitate the dilapidated theater and construct more than 100 housing units next door.
Oyster Development plans to demolish what is now the Giant Value building to make way for 114 market-rate housing units, 89 parking spaces and 14,750 square feet of retail space on the bottom floor.
Alamo Drafthouse plans to restore and convert the New Mission Theater into a five-screen, 600-seat theater, which will include a full service restaurant and bar. The original theater was built in 1910 and has been closed since 1993.
The San Francisco Planning Commission will consider both projects conjointly at its Thursday meeting — a significant milestone in the development process.
The project will not only leave a large footprint on the block — at 85-feet, it will become the second tallest building in the Mission — but it has the potential to attract new businesses, Lesser said.
The New Mission Theater would be able to sit 600 people at full capacity, in addition to 500 more at Preservation Hall West, the Jazz venue slated to open later this Winter or early Spring. Those numbers are making business groups wonder what impact that influx of people would have on parking in the neighborhood.
Although the site of the proposed development is well served by transit — two BART stations, multiple Muni lines — the developer is asking for 89 parking spaces. That’s 29 more spaces than what the city desires for a transit-rich neighborhood.
“This is going to be the test: can we handle this level of intensification?” Lesser asked. “Will the 20-somethings, will the 30-somethings be willing to take a Manhattan lifestyle? This definitely will test the theory that the neighborhood can attract people (who can) live without having a vehicle.”
Mission Street In Transition
Lesser, who is the president of the Business Improvement District on the block where the proposed project would be built, said he hopes the street can return to its glory days when it was known as the Mission Miracle Mile shopping district.
“There was a reason it was called the Mission Miracle Mile,” he said.”It brought a lot of activity to the corridor. What people have been seeing is a shell of what it was.”
That change has been evident over the last few months. Mission Street has seen a small influx of new shops and restaurants that were inspired by the success of Valencia Street, and the international accolades that Mission Chinese Food restaurant has received.
“What you are doing (with the development) is creating a substantial increase to the customer base for the neighborhood merchants,” Lesser, who is also an economist, said. “The number one thing a merchant wants is neighbors.”
Already some restaurant entrepreneurs have inquired about getting a space on the new development, Oyster Development president Dean Givas told Mission Local last year.
Whatever economic affects the development brings — if it gets built — won’t be felt until at least 12 to 18 months from now, when the projects are scheduled to be finished.
That hasn’t stopped other landlords on the street from working on restaurant projects of their own.
Robert Randles, for example, the owner of 2673-2675 Mission St., began the extensive permitting process to transform one of his storefront from retail space to restaurant even before finding a tenant.
“Tenants and neighbors have suggested — some have pleaded — that we find a tenant who will open a restaurant, since there is no full service restaurant open at dinner time on our block of Mission,” he told Mission Local last year.
At least two other landlords near 24th and Mission streets have signed temporarily leases with a gallery and a retailer, respectively, while they go through the permitting process.
Nidal Nazzal, who is part of the family that owns 2485-2491 Mission St., previously Mission Local that they are anticipating the opening of the new theater, and are in no hurry to sign a long-term lease.
“The old Mission Street stores have gone on for years, that’s phasing out,” he said.
Winner and Losers
The project has wide community support, but some worry about the impact it would have on existing businesses.
“I look at it as another nail in the coffin to the working class Latino immigrant community,” said Oscar Grande, the executive director of PODER, an environmental justice organization. “I am sure all the property owners are waiting to see what happens, but for the merchants there it’s a different story.”
Some struggling Mission Street merchants previously told Mission Local that landlords are giving them the cold-shoulder when it comes to signing a long-term lease.
The developer will dedicate a piece of land near Shotwell and Cesar Chavez streets to the Mayor’s Office on Housing to construct affordable housing to comply with the city’s affordable housing requirement.
Typically developers are required by law to dedicate 15 percent of their units to inclusionary housing or pay a fee that, once the project is completed, will go toward financing affordable housing elsewhere.
The idea behind the land dedication, which is unprecedented, is that the city can turn that land around and build up to 46 affordable housing units as opposed to settling for fewer units being built on-site.
Grande, who was among the nonprofits’ directors that negotiated the deal with the developer, said this would allow the city to have more say on how the affordable housing units are built.
“It’s better because you get more bang for your buck,” he said. “With off-site affordable housing units this also gives us more community control on how the development will happen. It means partnering with affordable housing developers, who would abide by local hiring, and hire union workers.”
However for Howard Ruy, the owner of Auto Smog & Oil Changers at 1296 Shotwell St., which is on the site of the would-be affordable housing building, was told by his landlord that he would have to leave the shop once the land is transferred to the city.
“It means I’m going to have to close shop,” he said. “Honestly I am just waiting for (the landlord) to call me to say ‘you have to move out.’”