The latest plans for the Alexandria; Historic Preservation Comm. meeting, Jan. 19

RichmondSFBlog reader Bob H. lives right near the old Alexandria theater at Geary and 18th Avenue, so he’s taken a special interest in the plans for its revitalization. Last week, he sent me the latest proposal for the new retail spaces and movie theater that are planned for the property.

Residential units, with commercial space on the ground floor, are also planned for the back parking lot on 18th Avenue that adjoins the current property; plans for those have not changed.

Many of the changes made in this latest version reflect efforts to preserve more of the building’s art deco detail that was part of the original design. Elevation Architects, who provided these latest designs, also made changes to improve access to the second floor which will house a movie theater and restaurant.

Architectural drawings of the 2nd floor where the theater and restaurant are located. Click to enlarge.

The theater, which will be on the second floor of the building, was reduced from 250 to 221 seats and most importantly, was moved to the south end of the building to expose more historic elements:

With the theatre in the center of the space, the murals on the east and west walls will be fully revealed and viewable for the first time since 1976 [when the two additional theaters were added upstairs]. In addition to removing the walls of the theatre that attach to the mural on the west wall, the configuration of the new theatre would be symmetrical revealing the entire dome at the ceiling that has been compromised by the 1976 design.

The theatre design from 1942 had a projection room that was centered at the rear of the auditorium. In 1976, a wall was built across the back of the auditorium to add two projection rooms for the new upper theatres. This revision will remove the additional projection rooms and reveal decorative plaques and ceiling vent grilles that are at south wall of auditorium.

The latest designs also include a new elevator and elevator lobby on the first floor to provide access to the spaces on the second floor (previously access was provided via a ramp). To accomplish this, they’ll build into the existing west exit alley and exit stairs will instead run along the west wall of the theatre. Restrooms will also be added on the second floor to service the movie theater and restaurant.

Changes were also made to the retail spaces on the bottom floor, dividing what was one large retail unit into four smaller ones (commercial spaces 1-4 in the architectural drawings). Based on the plans, shoppers can enter through either the corner of the building or via doors on 18th Avenue, which open into a hallway with access to all the stores.

Architectural drawings of the 1st floor where retail space is located. Click to enlarge.

This Wednesday, January 19, the Historic Preservation Commission is having a meeting at 12:30pm in Room 400 at City Hall. On the agenda is a discussion of the Alexandria project, and these new plans will be presented. The meeting is open to the public.

What do you think of these latest plans for the Alexandria property?

Sarah B.

A rendering of the residential units that will be built in what is now a parking lot on 18th Avenue.


  1. I like the plans a lot, but I’m really most excited for the building behind the theater. It will be sooooo nice to finally not have that ugly parking lot and empty space there, along with some great street trees. I walk along 18th several times a week going to the YMCA and Joe’s, and this will be great.

    I am a bit curious about what types of retail they’re hoping to attract – those spaces with internal-only entrances could be difficult to lease, IMO.

  2. It will never fly, it makes too much sense.
    And I’ll bet the disabled-access groupies are just waiting to charge.

  3. while I’m no fan of surface parking lots – especially in a residential area – and that one on 18th is an especially ugly one – does anyone know of what options the YMCA might have for its overflow parking? There are only a dozen spaces behind their building and they hold permits for ten (I think) spaces in that lot across the street.

    Keep in mind that the Y serves a community that can’t always walk, bike, or bus to the facility.

    (And I’m not saying the project should accommodate the Y, just wondering what options are available.)

  4. @Steve – I don’t know where this stands, but the Y was thinking about moving across the street and into the commercial space that will be in the bottom of the building that will be where the current parking lot is. There is underground parking planned for both the residences and the commercial spaces.

  5. Looks good. I hope they build a very large underground parking for movie patrons and for those of us who would spend more time at Geary establishments but for the lack of parking.

  6. I don’t think it’s necessary to build much parking. There’s a giant parking structure a short block away above Ross- is that thing ever full?

  7. This looks great! The Commission should approve this without further delay. Folks, now THIS is something nice happening to our neighborhood. It’s about time.

  8. Several years ago the property owner/developer and his attorney suggested that they would be talking to Trader Joe’s to lease them the street level retail space to be built on the parking lot. Just imagine the cars backed up for several blocks!

  9. I would encourage neighbors who are interested in the historic preservation of the Alexandria to listen to the Historic Preservation Commission’s testimony on the building which is located here:


    There is some discussion within this testimony over whether the internal theater is really a priority for the project sponsor. I believe historic preservation of this property should entail keeping it a public meeting place as it was from 1923 to 2004. Having this building end up as office space where only a few would be able to enjoy its historic elements would be unfortunate to say the least.

    More details on the project can be found below. Deadline for public comment or appeal is Monday.


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