What was left of the Giant Value store fell to the ground last week as a construction crew finished demolition work to prepare the site for what will become the second-tallest building in the Mission.

Designed by Kwan Henmi Architecture and Planning Inc., the 85-foot, eight-story structure will combine 114 one- and two-bedroom market-rate condominiums with 14,750 square feet of retail space and 89 parking spaces on the ground floor.

“We’re kind of just the cleanup crew to get everything ready,” says Luis Montes of MBC Construction, as he overlooks piles of debris, concrete, metal and brick that are being shuffled around by tractors. “Then the others can start building.”

Montes, 22, works with his uncle and friends of the family. He says he’s just starting to learn from them about what it takes to demolish a building. “You gotta take into account everything,” he says. “You have to look at things and see how they’re gonna move. It’s always better to be cautious and take your time.”

Montes, who wears a fluorescent yellow vest and red hard hat, says the crew feared that the wall facing Mission Street would fall into the street rather than into the demolition site. “The only thing holding it up was the buildings next to it,” he says. “It’s a dangerous job, so we gotta be real careful.”

Part of the New Mission Theater project, the construction includes a renovation of the adjacent New Mission Theater. Tim League, owner of Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, plans to develop a 600-seat, three-screen theater at the historic site.

After Montes and the others remove the debris and piles of recyclable materials, they’ll start breaking concrete. One of the perks of the job, Montes says, is discovering little pieces of history along the way. Rod Montes, co-owner of the company, found a dusty page from a 1952 calendar behind one of the walls.

“We found this, too,” Luis Montes says, kicking an empty safe that’s covered in dirt. “But they [Giant Value] didn’t leave us anything.”

Follow Us

Molly is a multimedia journalist, editor, photographer and illustrator. She has contributed to dozens of publications, and most recently, served as Editor of the Pacific Sun. To view more of her work, visit mollyoleson.com.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Exciting to see that new things are coming to Mission Street that add something to the neighborhood! Perhaps at one time Giant Value contributed to the neighborhood but clearly that was a long long time ago.

  2. So excited to see Mission Street start to get renovated! This is a great step forward! And for those who claim the end of the mission as a working-class neighborhood — it is worth pointing out the tech workers are also, well, workers. Yes, better paid workers, but they also tend to work *very* hard (10-12 hour days are common in the industry). The “owner” class still lives on the hill tops, nothing is really changing, other than what types of jobs people hold.

    1. You don’t seem particularly bright – ‘working class’ means people who certainly don’t have six-figure incomes or close to it, like the tech people do. The tech workers are upper middle-class.

      1. Yes, but my point is that they are still hard working folks, often driven and abused by bosses and owners. They get paid better because they have more economically valuable skills and use creativity and knowledge on a daily basis, but they are still workers.

        Just like a trash-picking homeless person might look at a painter who lives in a small apartment with envy, and the painter might look back and think “why don’t you learn a skill and get a job?”, the same relationship exists between the painter and the tech worker. We are all workers, and we are all free to create our own destiny, and are equally responsible for the outcomes of our careers and choices. some have made more economically valuable choices when it comes to education and career. And it is not a class issue — anyone is free to learn how to write code, and there is lot of free education out there on the topic. i know a number of high-school drop-outs who now make 6 figures in the tech world, because they are smart and creative. anyone can do it, you just have to try and stop viewing this as some class-division. Its really just a division of motivation and choice.

        1. “anyone can do it, you just have to try and stop viewing this as some class-division. Its really just a division of motivation and choice.”

          I agree with this, although it’s a tough pill for some people to swallow. The whole “class-divide” viewpoint on tech workers in this city is so annoying to me. Yes, there are some people that don’t have the opportunity or resources to learn how to code, but there are lots of other people who just whine and cry and cry “not fair” without actually going for it.

        2. Some people can’t afford a computer and internet access. Some people also are working two jobs to feed their kids and pay rent and don’t have time. I know it must shock you and every other libertarian in America that class almost always has something to do with it, but it does often.

          A lot of these ‘new Mission’ people aren’t high school drop outs. They are graduates of expensive four-year colleges and who went to good suburban high schools – not exactly an argument it isn’t about class.My pity for the poor hard driven tech worker doesn’t go very deep considering what these people waste in the expense of their hobbies every month is what most people pay in rent or mortgage.

          1. top notch universities are putting out free on-line classes on programing (Stanford, MIT, etc are all doing this) there are lots of free tutorials. Libraries have computers that are free to use. They also offer classes.

            I didn’t say it is *easy* to climb that hill, but there is nothing stopping folks, other than their own motivation.

            My parents were penniless war-refugees when they arrived in America.

            I have many other friends who are recent emigrants to the country, who came with nothing, and are now doing excellent work and making good money.

            As a friend who came from Romania as a young man said: “In america, if you WANT to be rich, and you are not, you only have yourself to blame”

            you may be shocked to realize how many of the “wealthy tech workers” have complex and varied back-grounds, coming from all strata of society, and from around the world. the one thing they have in common is creativity and motivation.

            the beautiful thing about the modern knowledge based work-force is that it is entirely class-blind. Noone cares where you came from, what your skin color is, or even what degrees you hold — all that matters is that you are skilled and creative. It is ruthlessly merit based.

            And, for what it is worth, i’m not a libertarian, and I strongly disagree with much of what the libertarians believe in. Rather, I believe that we all have the potential to be anything we want to be, but it takes hard work and motivation to create that. Whining about class just creates your own internal block where you believe that you can never have what “they” have. that is BS, but it will be true as long as you think that way.

            The only thing you can change in the world is yourself. change that, and the world will change around you.

          2. L, having children is a choice. Between abortion and adoption, you don’t have to have children. The person working 2 jobs to feed his/her family made the CHOICE to do so. They could have not had children and learned a skill to make them more valuable. 80% of today’s millionaires are first generation. You don’t have to come from money to make money. You just need to make good choices!

  3. Too bad that the former Medjool owner had to go through so much bs to get anything done to make improvements on his property. This was to be renovated/rebuilt 4+ years ago. Maybe this will be the start of more improvements on Mission St. It sure needs it. As for more public housing projects in District 9, there are too many already; two of which are located on Army at Valencia & also Folso.. 60% of this type of housing is located in Districts 6, 9, 10 & 11 – Enough! They do nothing but blight a neighborhood.

    1. The proposed below market housing at Cesar Chavez and Shotwell will be owned by a private non-profit, not the SFHA.

      Regardless, Bernal Dwellings and Valencia Gardens are valuable community resources whose residents deserve equal respect to other Mission residents.

      Only an unreasonable person would describe the areas around those developments as “blighted.”

      1. Valencia Gardens isn’t blighted but you might want to compare its crime stats over the last few years with the rest of the neighborhood.

        1. Most people on here really don’t get it. Don’t have any emotional connections here. Many people considered this there home, raised kids, worked hard and made this a real community. The new folks moving in have a different idea of what community is or never had community. All they see is the bad side or never lived in a city before. You don’t get rid of crime and homeless people by building condos. The number of condos out do the affordable units in the mission. Affordable housing does not equal crime. Most of the units that are
          100% affordable look like regular apt buildings and most people don’t know they live next to one. Just because
          their is a problem with one does not mean they are all like that. I know many people who talked like many of you here until they got evicted from there unit. The reality set in. He had to move out of the city and lost his job here, his kids education was interrupted, and separated his family from friends and other family members.

          Also most crime comes from the outside. You need to look at those stats closely.

          When people say the last of the Mission they are not just looking at a building they are looking at memories when families shopped there. It was a large department store, it had a restaurant inside, a pet department, mens and women’s sections and sold appliances.

          People always tell me oh well things change. There is good change and bad. The out come of gentrification is bad for a lot of folks. Its good for new folks mostly white with high incomes and little or no family. The population of the Mission has gone down. 2010 census. To expensive for many folks.

          The poor folks here are not lazy or unmotivated. They work two jobs, raise a family with out the nannies and special perks of buses picking them up for work.

          1. Missionite, holding on to old memories and clutching to your long gone past is just plain naive. The Giant Value is no longer a department store that was thriving because the owners did not know how to keep and retain a good business. Unfortunately, the mission community that has been in place for the past 30-40 years did not teach their children how to maintain a healthy economy and it went to shambles. That’s not the fault of the new folks coming in. Anytime prime property in any area has become blighted, it’s a huge investment opportunity for anyone. This is not the fault of new people coming in, it’s clearly the fault of the folks that have been here for a long time. I guess you just don’t like new immigrants…..

  4. Barring a bursting of the tech bubble, this development will be one of the strongest and last nails in the coffin of the Mission District as a working class neighborhood.

    What is the status of the subsidized housing development at Cesar Chavez and Shotwell that the condo developers promised to fulfill their inclusionary housing requirement?

    Why aren’t those units being built first? We need them much more than luxury condos.

  5. I think the huge pile of rubble is actually an improvement due to the open space it creates.
    That place was a ridiculous eye sore. Looking forward to the improvements to Mission St!

    1. So, it’s a bad thing to restore a movie theater that has been shuttered for decades to its original use, and in the process provide new units in a city with a notorious housing shortage? Get real. This is not the end of the Mission. The only sacrifice is a dollar store, which the Mission already has in excess. Time for a reality check.

    2. Kenny likes dirty buildings and crazy people everywhere. Don’t worry Kenny, the mission will always have the crackheads, drunks, prostitutes and gangs as long as the 16th and 24th street BART plazas and the drug infested section 8 converted hotels are still around.