A derelict Alexandria Theater in the Richmond district is supposed to finally turn into more than just a remnant of King Tut’s tomb with a redevelopment plan that includes a restaurant on the second floor and 46 apartments taking over the parking lot.
Alas, the project, though detailed in design, was delayed again, for at least another month and a half, Wednesday.
Just when The City and property owners started the redesign after the theater sat idle at 18th Avenue and Geary Boulevard for seven years, with boarded-up box-office windows and an entrance covered with flies and urine, the unprepared developers asked for more time.
The Historic Preservation Commission, which had requested a hearing about the blueprints, unanimously agreed to a postponement Wednesday since the developers did not have a historical architect on hand, though officials said they had been repeatedly warned it was necessary.
“I think it harms the area around it. I am frustrated that our Planning Department and designers and owners can’t seem to communicate,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents the district.
The theater first opened in 1923 with a design that capitalized on the discovery of King Tut’s tomb with its large, Egyptian architecture, and in its day it was the glamour queen of the neighborhood. It meets the criteria to be eligible for the California Register of Historic Places.
The Historic Preservation Commission was expecting to hear about how a group of several local investors want it to look in the future while preserving its stunning relics.
The plans would protect historical attributes such as the iconic 1942 marquee and terrazzo-patterned floor at the entrance, the 1963 marble ticket booth and glass-paneled movie poster cabinets, and, of course, the Alexandria blade sign.
The future of the second floor includes a new restaurant, while a four-story mixed-use building will take over the parking lot.
However, since the Historic Preservation Commission will hear about it all Jan. 19 instead of this week, the Planning Commission, which is in charge of accepting the designs, will have to wait.
“I just finished 10 minutes ago explaining to my wife why I was so aggravated,” Planning Commission member Ron Miguel said. “I’m annoyed that they’re not listening. I wanted something to actually happen there.”
Plans for theater
- Upstairs: Restaurant, 7,500 square feet on second floor
- Mezzanine: Cafe, 250-seat theater space and lounge, possibly other uses
- Parking lot: Four-story building with 46 residential and about a dozen commercial spaces
- Current size of theater: 18,000 square feet
- Total size of proposed development: 77,177 square feet
Source: Historic Preservation Commission