TimeSpace Group wants to convert historic SF movie theater into homes

Developer and city cut deal to turn the Alexandra Theatre into 76 units

TimeSpace Group Wants to Convert Alexandra Theatre Into Housing
Alexandria Theater at 5418 Geary Boulevard (Google Maps, Getty)

TimeSpace Group wants to convert a 100-year-old movie theater in San Francisco’s Richmond District into housing.

The Saratoga-based developer now seeks an agreement with the city to redevelop the historic Alexandria Theatre at 5418 Geary Boulevard, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The Egyptian-style theater, built in 1923, has sat empty for nearly two decades.

This week, TimeSpace and San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan said they were hamming out a deal to turn it into 76 units. It’s not clear if remnants of the historic theater will be retained.

“I am just so pleased that we are finally able to turn a new page for this historic site,” Chan told the Chronicle.

By bringing the owners and the city together, she hopes that they can strike a balance between preserving the site and creating “some flexibility for housing and development.”

Chan has pushed for the site to be landmarked, which the owners say would make any project impossible. 

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The theater’s landmark proposal was slated to be heard by the Historic Preservation Committee this week, but Chan said she’ request a continuance in light of the new plan.

Yorke Lee, the founder of TimeSpace Group, which has owned the Alexandria Theater since 2015, added that figuring out what the space can become has taken years — and multiple district supervisors.

“This is not an easy project,” Lee said. “Hopefully, it will be a successful project … a win-win situation for everybody.”

The Alexandria, now long in tooth, has letters missing from its Art Deco sign and paint patches rolled over old graffiti. The vacated building has long frustrated neighbors, who said ideas for redevelopment have come and gone, along with numerous owners since it closed in 2004.

The building’s owners originally planned to redevelop the theater into a recreational center with a swimming pool and offices, but those plans were derailed by the pandemic, Lee said. 

Then winter storms this year damaged the theater’s iconic vertical blade sign, prompting Chan to introduce legislation to designate the theater as a historical landmark — an idea that frustrated the building’s owner, who said it would cause redevelopment costs to skyrocket, the San Francisco Standard reported.

— Dana Bartholomew

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