New Mission Theater Plan Will Also Bring New Housing to North Bernal Borderlands


Last week, the City’s Planning Commission approved a very exciting proposal to restore and renovate the abandoned New Mission Theater on Mission at 22nd Street. It’s a promising development that will bring some grandeur back to the old theater, which will be operated by the much-loved Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain. Yay!

In addition, the project includes 114 market-rate housing units to be built on the site of today’s Giant Value store. Yet as our journo-friends at MissionLocal pointed out, this will also result in the development of a new affordable-housing complex in the Bernalwood borderlands, on the northwest corner of Cesar Chavez and Shotwell:

The developer will dedicate a piece of land near Shotwell and Cesar Chavez streets to the Mayor’s Office on Housing to construct affordable housing to comply with the city’s affordable housing requirement.

Typically developers are required by law to dedicate 15 percent of their units to inclusionary housing or pay a fee that, once the project is completed, will go toward financing affordable housing elsewhere.

The idea behind the land dedication, which is unprecedented, is that the city can turn that land around and build up to 46 affordable housing units as opposed to settling for fewer units being built on-site.

Grande, who was among the nonprofits’ directors that negotiated the deal with the developer, said this would allow the city to have more say on how the affordable housing units are built.

“It’s better because you get more bang for your buck,” he said. “With off-site affordable housing units this also gives us more community control on how the development will happen. It means partnering with affordable housing developers, who would abide by local hiring, and hire union workers.”

However for Howard Ruy, the owner of Auto Smog & Oil Changers at 1296 Shotwell St., which is on the site of the would-be affordable housing building, was told by his landlord that he would have to leave the shop once the land is transferred to the city.

“It means I’m going to have to close shop,” he said. “Honestly I am just waiting for (the landlord) to call me to say ‘you have to move out.’”


I have yet to see any renderings of the proposed Chavez/Shotwell development, so no word on how it will look. I will be watching closely, however, if only because I live a block from the site. So for now, consider me a YIMBY-inclined, interested party.

PHOTO: The future building site on Cesar Chavez Blvd at Shotwell Street in January 2013. Photo by Telstar Logistics 

12 thoughts on “New Mission Theater Plan Will Also Bring New Housing to North Bernal Borderlands

  1. I, too, would like to be a YIMBY, but Howard is an awesome guy and it would be very sad to see he and his business leave the neighborhood. His friendly greeting is my favorite part about my walk to and from BART.

  2. I don’t know if the lot includes the Jaguar service place, which has a Cesar Chavez address, or just the auto shops at 1296 Shotwell. This would be a great place for a Trader Joe’s, with affordable housing on top. Too bad about the much-loved businesses that would be displaced. It would have been better to include the affordable units in the Mission Street building, but the trend seems to be to build the affordable units in a separate location.

  3. Good news for more housing, though I am sorry about the displaced business. Wish the Autozone land could be included in this new development too!

  4. My wife and I just moved into the neighborhood at 118 Coso. Hi everyone! 🙂 Seeing all the happy people on this blog was one of the reasons we chose to come to Bernal, as cheesy as that sounds. Neighbors give a cheerful “hello!” instead of ignoring you. No filth or litter on the sidewalks. The air smells green instead of yellow and brown. The streets are paved with gold as the chariots pitter patter down the hill. 😉

    One of the things we noticed quickly though, was no theater nearby! Very much looking forward to the upcoming Alamo Drafthouse.

    • Just around the corner from me. Welcome. I’ll think you’ll find that our little section of the hill is the perfect middle-ground for all things Mission and Bernal.

  5. Hi David! Welcome to the ‘hood. It really is all that! I’ve lived just up the hill on Montezuma St. for 15 years, and love it here.

  6. I happy to hear that the New Mission will be renovated. I used to go to that theater when I was a little girl. Brings back good memories.

  7. Consider me for the most part in the Yimby camp. I feel ambiguous about off-site affordable housing. I think there is a lot to be said for mixing income groups in to mutually dependent communities, as an on-site set up seems more apt to do. I’m not going to mince words, to me, the off-site approach feels more like building a ghetto. My concern is that the city is in a tough place and may be forced between choosing quantity over quality, sacrificing socio-economic integration for what could end up as a short-term win, but ultimately lead to sub-standard solutions for people who deserve better. Will this new construction come with more community facilities? Dan mentioned putting in a Trader Joes. A large, affordable, nearby supermarket would benefit everyone. I love the convenience of harvest market, and would still probably end up there a bunch of times, but what’s the point of having affordable housing without affordable food and services?

    I’m also concerned about the environmental implications of building on top of sites which have, as we’ve seen from countless photos, been light automotive and industrial sites for years. In this day and age, I would think that such has been considered.

    Anyway, I certainly don’t know enough about how it all works. Maybe I’m just inherently mistrustful of developers. I’m in favor of more affordable housing in the city, yes, in my backyard (I live a few doors down from Bernalwood HQ). If this deal really truly means there is more available, I certainly can see the appeal.

  8. The idea of a new development project is to mix the market-rate units with the affordable housing. The affordable housing should be on-site, at the Mission Theatre, even if this means scaling back on the lofty theatre development plans. Ghetto is the right word for what the developer and city have proposed. Will the next development project in the Mission (or further afield) propose that the required affordable housing be put on the north side of Cesar Chavez? Why not? If the city accepts this proposal for the Mission Theatre, why wouldn’t they accept similar proposals for other gentrification projects. This does not feel right to me.

  9. Rafe & Rachel – Your posts are the best response. Ghetto is the right word to describe what will happen if this project is allowed to be be built. District 9 (& the southeast part of SF as a whole) already has way too many public/low income housing projects/non-profit tenements. On that section of Army St alone there are at least 3, with police being called constantly. It certainly does not need anymore, especially with all the problems that come with them. The auto shops are part of the community & give much needed services. It would be sad to see them displaced for slums. The idea of mixed use with apartments to rent & condos to buy with a percentage of be-low market rate units plus storefronts on the ground floor is a much better fit for a neighbhorhood that is constantly improving/upgrading.

  10. Pingback: A Brief History of How Cesar Chavez/Army Street Became So Damn Awful in the First Place | Bernalwood

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