Friday, January 18, 2013

Alamo Drafthouse Inches Towards Reality

In last Saturday's SF Chronicle, I read that the Alamo Drafthouse's remodeling of the New Mission Theater was approved by the San Francisco City Planning Commission on January 9.  The $10 million project includes the theater remodel and a new 114 unit condo next door to the theater.

The final sentence of the Chronicle article states "Work on both developments could begin by summer."  In previous reports, Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League has stated the remodeling could be complete by the end of 2013.  It's unclear if they are still on schedule for a 2013 completion.  Also, completion of the remodeling is not the same as opening the theater for business.  In previous documents, theater renovations were estimated to take 10 to 12 months which would indicate a 2014 completion.

Regardless of the opening date, this news can only be considered progress towards the opening of the Alamo Drafthouse in SF.  The Planning Commission Draft Motion has some interesting artist renditions of what the property will look like as well as full design plans.  Interestingly the packet also includes letters from various organizations supporting the restoration and reopening of the New Mission Theater.  The Roxie supports the opening by stating "The Roxie Theater is in support of the restoration of The New Mission Theater.  The reopening of The New Mission Theater will allow San Francisco to experience more film gems that would not be seen without such venues."  I would think competition from Alamo Drafthouse would be detrimental to the Roxie but perhaps the programming will be different than what I was expecting.

In the Planning Commission motion, it states "The Project is located within .6 and 1.0 miles from other theaters, including the Roxie Theater at 3117 16th Street, Victoria Theater at 2961 16th Street, and the Castro Theater at 429 Castro Street. These three theaters are all independent theaters that do not directly compete with Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, which typically shows first‐run, major motion pictures."

Comparing the designs for the New Mission vs. the New Parkway which has a similar food & beverage strategy, the Drafthouse design is terraced rows of seating with a long counter in front of each row for plates & glasses.  However, beer & wine service or the ability to eat food requiring a knife & fork during the film are not of foremost importance tor me.  Instead, the Drafthouse's policy of kicking people out of the theater for using their cell phones is something I truly relish.

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