Old North Beach Theater
A reader photographs and reports:

Your posting “not for the faint of heart” reminded me about the run-down, boarded up theater in North Beach, opposite the beautiful Washington Square park. What an eyesore! Is this another…landmark? I work nearby, and I heard rumors that efforts to make it a Walgreens or Rite Aid failed miserably. So now we’re stuck with this!

And we wonder: anybody have the inside scoop on what’s in the works (if anything)?
UPDATE: According to a seriously plugged-in reader, that would be a Rite-Aid, taqueria, formula retail and “[a]s of April 2005, the new owners wanted to tear the 98-year-old (now 100-year-old) place down and build something on the site. Uh. Oh. Stalemate.”
Not For The Faint Of Heart (Or Wallet): Landmark Edition [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Greg

    Socketsite is right on! I walk by this embarrassment every day on my way to work…what a tremendous location! Put a Walgreen’s on the groundfloor and let it pay for a new cinema upstairs, and a restored facade.
    Probably not in my lifetime though.

  2. Posted by gutti

    I heard they were putting in a Dodge dealership or a tire store or something like that.

  3. Posted by Anon

    About 5 years ago they were trying to get a chain drug store in there (walgreens I think) but the neighborhood groups shot it down because they didn’t want large scale chain retailers in the neighborhood. Not sure as to why they haven’t made anything happen on the property in the last five years though.

  4. Posted by Sal

    Rite-Aid.
    In August 2004 a new owner was going to put in a taqueria on the ground floor and do something else with the rest of the building. That didn’t work out for whatever reason.
    In March 2005 the supes passed an ordinance banning “formula retail” in the North Beach Neighborhood Commercial District. “Formula retail” is a retail store or establishment that has eleven or more other establishments in the USA and has “two or more of the following characteristics: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized façade, a standardized décor or color scheme, a uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or service mark.” All those specifics defined here.
    No new Starbucks at that site, obviously.
    As of April 2005, the new owners wanted to tear the 98-year-old (now 100-year-old) place down and build something on the site.
    Uh. Oh.
    Stalemate.

  5. Posted by signica

    I have vivid memories of the Pagoda, everything from then current Jackie Chan releases to Godfather revivals. Where are the benefactors in San Francisco when it comes to art that must be projected on the big screen? A single screen theater in North Beach, wouldn’t that be keen?

  6. Posted by Sal

    I have a Lotto ticket for tomorrow. x’ your fingers for me.

  7. Posted by Another pushing for quality of life and festivals

    The Telegraph Hill Dwellers (SF regressive neighborhood organization) has stopped development here many times. They deserve the look of the building as they assisted in it’s creation. The Washington Square Theatre as it was originally known (before Palace and Pagoda) has been vacant for almost 15 years. One thought was to have a restaurant/commercial tenant on the ground floor and a cinema on the second. Peskin wrote legislation to ban cinemas/theatre from operating on second floors in “any location once used as a theatre in North Beach”. The planning commission called it “spot zoning” and killed the legislation. The theatre is not in Telegraph Hill. It is in North Beach. The taqueria/mixed use plan is still alive, but opposition from that nutty quack group on the hill is halting all plans from what I have heard in recent months. It is the same group which is attempting to permanently shut down the North Beach Fair and the North Beach Jazz Festival. The current owner stated he was thinking about a proposal to tear down the gutted out building which needs millions to restore. I say take it down and remove the decade and a half old blight. Operating a single/double screen cinema is not likely to be seen again given the price paid for the site 3 years ago.

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