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Residential complex to replace century-old theater on Market Street

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The Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a project to demolish a former theater and replace it with 90 residential units. (Kevin Kelleher/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Some 90 new homes are destined along Market Street at a vacant, century-old theater that most recently operated as a strip club, further signaling the neighborhood’s shift from grime to green.

The Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a project to demolish the concrete building, constructed in 1912 as the Grauman’s Imperial Theater, and build a 90-foot-tall, eight-story building with about 90 residences and 8,500 square feet of retail space.

An auditorium takes up about half the building’s footprint, where there is also a vacant theater and three small retail spaces along Market Street. Significant interior and exterior alterations have occurred since the structure was built, preventing the building from qualifying for the California Register of Historical Resources.

The 90 proposed homes include 28 studios, 51 one-bedroom units and 11 two-bedroom units, including 11 on-site below-market-rate units as part of the City’s inclusionary requirements.

In addition to housing, planned in place of the theater are off-street parking for 24 vehicles and basement parking for 92 bicycles.

Several public commenters spoke in support of the project at Thursday’s meeting.

“It’s exciting to see more housing planned for Market Street considering it’s such a rich transit area and it’s been a bit neglected over the years,” said Robert Poole, project manager for the nonprofit Housing Action Coalition.

Commissioner Michael Antonini noted the loss of a theater is not ideal but bringing residents to the area could pave the way to better support other theaters along Market Street.

“It’s regrettable that the theater that had originally been there can’t be restored…[but] there still is an opportunity to create a theater district along Market Street,” Antonini said. “Greatly added to that concept is you’ll have actual residents living in that area.”

The project further improves the Mid-Market corridor that has seen a major transformation in recent years largely due to tax breaks granted by The City to Twitter and other technology companies.

In fact, Mayor Ed Lee said last week that such tax exemptions – which cost The City $34 million last year – have brought 17 technology companies, three co-work spaces, two venture capital firms and 40 new storefront businesses, as well as 15 new arts venues, to the area.

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  • john q

    Good luck to any new nighttime inhabitants, as the previous ones swear that there were numerous instances of paranormal activity there, leading to its vacancy.