5400 Geary (Alexandria Theater)

With the redevelopment of the former parking lot parcel behind the dilapidated Alexandria Theater at 5400 Geary Boulevard underway, new plans to completely redevelop the actual theater have been drawn. And as newly proposed by TimeSpace Real Estate, the first floor of the theater will be turned into a 15,000-square-foot Swim Center with two pools and a viewing area.

An expanded second level would become a 7,200-square-foot Learning Center with 12 classrooms.
And an all-new third level would become an open 8,200-square-foot business center, which Elevation Architects envisions “will be one of the most exciting new office spaces in San Francisco.”

5400 Geary Plan

Shuttered in 2004, by 2010 the Alexandria had become “a haven for homeless” with a crumbling façade, a boarded-up box office and a once-vibrant entrance, which has since been gated, riddled with flies and the stench of urine.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Mark

    “riddled with flies and the stench of urine.” Sounds a lot like the atmosphere on Market St.

    Glad to finally see a good use of the site in the works, rather than some boring luxury condos.

  2. Posted by Sierrajeff

    How … bizarre. and disappointing. A full gym, I could see. But some weird mixed-use pool / learning center / offices? All while presumably having to absorb the cost of preserving the exterior? (And do those 3rd floor office not have any windows to Geary or 18th?)

    All in all, wondering how much this is a poke in the eye of NIMBYs, and a “Potemkin Village” (Potemkin site plan?) to make it look like the property isn’t just sitting here rotting away. (Which it is.)

  3. Posted by Amewsed

    Stupid plan. I believe there is a nearby YMCA with those same facilities nearby.

    Now that Eric Mar is no longer the supervisor of the district, Sandra Fewer is the new supervisor, so we’ll see how good she is in bringing in new businesses and developer money. Not hopeful but maybe she will be incrementally better.

    Highest and best use of site is housing upstairs and retail on ground floor. Not luxury condo building but more moderate, well designed places with a larger footprint.

    • Posted by Calvin

      YMCA across the street does not have a pool. It is strange that it is not a full gym. Maybe YMCA wants to lease the pool area?

  4. Posted by ohmy

    This is an opportunity site for tons of housing…what a waste.

  5. Posted by AnonAnon

    Awesome. I’m guessing most of the commenters here aren’t swimmers. All the pools in SF get a ton of use and there is a need for more. There are plenty of regular gyms already.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      There are *not* plenty of regular gyms in this neighborhood. I know, I live near here. I’d love for there to be a full-service gym – Fitness SF, 24 Hour, Equinox, Planet Fitness – the closest full-service gym to the mid-Richmond is either 24 Hour on Van Ness or in the Castro, or Equinox in the Marina.

    • Posted by keith Pasquinzo

      As a gym goer and who had a son who was a competitive swimmer through college. San Francisco is truly lacking in pools especially competition pools. Rossi pool is configured wrong for meets. In an area surrounded by water you would think we all would want people to be good swimmers. Also yes the Richmond is in dire need of a good gym. City sports in Stonetown is the only one even close to here. The YMCA is not a true gym…good for some but really not for most.

      • Posted by Chuck

        Matter of time before one opens on Geary in a defunct mattress store. The JCC is by all accounts a real gym.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          True, I did forget the JCC – though it’s often very crowded, despite its high price (currently around $120/month, I believe, for the basic gym + pool membership).

          • Posted by mike kennedy

            also the Koret Gym at USF. Again expensive but very good.

      • Posted by Traci Robinette

        The Koret Center at USF is a decent gym with an even better pool and diving well.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Koret Center is ludicrously expensive if you’re not a student or a senior.

          • Posted by Traci Robinette

            Koret has a neighborhood price also. If you can show a power bill, etc in your name that proves you live within a certain radius, it’s only like $90 a month for full usage.

          • Posted by Traci Robinette

            Or $660 annually which comes out to only $55 a month.

          • Posted by Amewsed

            Koret’s neighborhood membership is even less expensive than YMCA, which is $66 a month for singles, more for a family pass.

            Even assuming this pool project is completed, they will need to be price competitive (just pool) to stay economically afloat (pun intended.)

    • Posted by BTinSF

      I agree that there’s nothing wrong with a “natatorium” and SF probably needs another one, but it does seem an odd combo with offices and a “business center” (i’m not even sure what that is).

  6. Posted by BobN

    Why are the pools separated from the “viewing areas”? Chlorine?

    • Posted by AnonAnon

      As my daughter says when I make her sit in the stands while I swim – “It smells swampy in here”. Also it can distract the lifeguards to have people running around so they try to limit that with new pools.

  7. Posted by Alai

    Well if they go the flooded theater route, I want the full experience: steps descending into the murky depths with occasional seats, a giant chandelier above, peeling Egyptian-themed murals on the walls, a diving board from the loge…

  8. Posted by Richmondman

    Perhaps the YMCA is looking into being the Anchor Tenant and expanding their footprint while avoiding the Capital outlay. If so, I wouldn’t be surprised if the second floor is included. A great opportunity to get these types of facilities in the Richmond, though I am sure this isn’t a done deal yet – and I would bet tenant(and landlord) activists want more housing there.

  9. Posted by invented

    Absurd.

    If we need pools put them in public parks and/or schools. Public private partnerships are the answer. This critical parcel needs highest density housing.

    Say no to suburban folly.

    • Posted by Sabbie

      Because the outer neighborhoods really need the increased congestion and higher housing prices that come with dense new condo development.

      • Posted by ess

        Yeah I bet the homeowners out there hate when prices go up.

      • Posted by Amewsed

        Higher housing prices set the comps for other homes in the area as well as simply supply more homes. And it brings with it a new set of residents who provide the economic justification for more businesses like your 24 hour Fitness, Equinox, etc.

        Yes, I own rental properties in this neighborhood.

    • Posted by joh

      Not everything needs to be housing. A pool and learning center replacing what was once a movie theater is not a bad thing.

  10. Posted by 4th Generation SF'er

    The building is gorgeous & should be preserved. It wasn’t that long ago that I saw movies there.

  11. Posted by Reina De San Pancho

    You could build “more housing” on every underutilized lot in the city, and still we’d have a shortage of affordable housing. And the city would be at about 500% of the capacity of our infrastructure. All of the people rich enough to move here have a car or two. Plus all of the extra Ubers who’d come here for the business. You think the traffic gridlock today is bad?

  12. Posted by unlivable city

    That pretty much sums up the MASTER PLAN of Ed & Co. — allow the remaining authentic parts of San Francisco to become so dilapidated that the golden haired fleecer developer is welcomed with rose petals and essential oils.

  13. Posted by PRE

    Don’t people out in the avenues go to the movies or does everyone drive to Daly City or the Cadillac Theater on Van Ness? The Castro will be the last theater left in SF and even that will be a fight I’m sure. Makes me love the Grand Lake all the more.

    • Posted by kbbl

      Netflix, methinks.

      The Castro has carved a deep niche for itself and has a strong community following. It also benefits from being right next to rail transit, broadening its reach. It may become the last one standing, but it’s neither a fluke nor likely to be reproduced elsewhere.

      • Posted by Skeeter

        The Castro is also owned by the family who built it. It is not part of a chain or subject to corporate downsizing. Even so, it is a shadow of its former self, primarily rented out for film festivals, with very little of its own programming. It is dark many Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as being closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas – two of the biggest movie going days of the year.

    • Posted by Fishchum

      Are you serious? I can walk down Chestnut Street with 2 theaters to choose from. I go over the hill and I’ve got The Vogue on Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights, and The Clay on Fillmore in Pacific Heights. A little further down Fillmore and you hit The Kabuki.

      Hand wringing over The Castro being the “last theater left in San Francisco” is pure nonsense.

  14. Posted by Bogie

    I like it.

  15. Posted by Sam Foster

    I’m sorry, am I missing the part where this relatively large parcel is going to be used for much needed housing?

    • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

      Then you haven’t grasped yet that theater buildings are sacred cows in San Francisco from a planning perspective. These neighborhood theaters dot the city and were a refuge from boredom and fog in a pre-television whatever era. They were built with fanciful architecture and most of the extant structures are almost impossible to tear down, and usually in a “next life” must retain some community-serving capacity that doesn’t mean startup office space or housing for arriviste techies.

      Would the city be better if we had little culture-hubs fostering community and thought in our various neighborhoods? Probably. But at what cost? The cost of more expensive housing for the marginal buyer.

      The 4 star theater has been for sale near by. I believe it still is – similar challenges.

      The Bold Italic did a story several years ago about all of the empty theaters in town. One simply cannot butcher these sacred cows – they are dog whistles for NIMBY sentimentalists.

    • Posted by AnonAnon

      Sorry I missed the part where your development team bought the parcel and tried to develop apartments there. Free market and all, the developers made a choice they wanted to build a pool with offices.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      I suspect there are many services and fascilities the occupants of “much needed housing” want available and that includes gas stations and swimming pools (and restaurants and clubs and coffee shops and on and on). If we cover every square inch of the city with housing, who would want to live in it?

  16. Posted by really?

    How are they going to get the urine smell out of this place? Just add water?

  17. Posted by donald nazzal

    If you are counting on any support or forward thinking from Sandra Fewer..you will more be disappointed than our previous pathetic supervisor, Eric Mar. Fewer clearly gets her direction from Peskin…I would not be surprised to see the theater turn in to a homeless shelter. A perfect neighbor for our beloved Joe’s Ice Cream!

    • Posted by Amewsed

      So Fewer jobs, opportunities, and money.

      Let’s see how many more shops, grocery stores on Clement St. will close w/o replacement businesses.

  18. Posted by scott f

    I’m usually the one saying “more housing” over and over like a broken record, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be housing. There’s a parking lot next door, right? So upzone the crap out of it and build 12 stories of poolside condos there. That’s the tradeoff. Height lets you meet housing needs and still have space for parks, recreation like swimming, and preserve a few special, older, smaller buildings like this one. Let the people have a pool, nothing wrong with that.

    • Posted by Alai

      That parking lot project is already well underway: four stories of housing (and a little commercial) and two stories of parking.

      Why have a tradeoff when you can have both? Well, I guess the tradeoff is that the housing is unaffordable. Oh well…

      • Posted by scott f

        Oh, I thought the parking lot project was an earlier version of this project and was thus on hold. Yeah, that’s disappointingly small, and the new Richmond Supervisor ran on a pretty explicitly anti-density platform. Maybe more progress will be made in the Sunset.

  19. Posted by Jason H

    I live a block from there. A pool will be great. The YMCA down the street does not have one. Doing anything with the space will be an improvement. It has been an eye sore and attracting homeless for too long.

  20. Posted by Dr. House

    Can anyone tell me what the “123” sign on the side of the tower means? It’s driven me crazy for years. No, it’s not the address.

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