EXCLUSIVE: Updated Project Proposal Released for Ingleside’s Historic Movie Palace

Housing, full restoration of the theater and a pool are included in the updated proposal for the former El Rey movie palace.

Rendering of the El Rey development project
A rendering of the proposed El Rey development. | Courtesy image
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The San Francisco Planning Department published the new project proposal for Ingleside’s iconic former El Rey theater this week.

The updated proposal calls for two four-story multi-family residential housing on the historic building’s parking lots for a total of 42 units, eight of which will be affordable, along with parking space for 32 vehicles and 48 bicycles. Aside from the new construction, the proposal also calls for the renovation and restoration of the historic theater and storefronts.

Urbano Ezquerro, a member of the Sausalito-based ownership group Optimal Partners, declined to comment.

“We need to build houses in order to do this,” Ezquerro told the Ingleside Light in 2018. “Because it’s not feasible [otherwise]. It’s a lot of money. Just to build the stairs in there to get to the roof of the tower is almost $120,000.”

The Preliminary Project Assessment for 1970 Ocean Ave. was made available to the public on Wednesday, July 7, via the San Francisco Property Information Map portal.

The purpose of the PPA is to gauge whether the project proposal comports with city requirements. The Planning Department accepted the PPA on June 9, and has 60 days to respond.

The developers submitted a PPA in July 2019 but withdrew it a month later. The updated plans include a pool in the western wing for the dive school Bamboo Reef, a small business in the South of Market neighborhood.

The architect, Goldman Architects, is the same for both project proposals.

Built in 1931, the El Rey theater complex was a single-screen movie palace by famed San Francisco architect Timothy Pflueger, who also designed the Castro Theater and City College’s Science Hall. One of the El Rey’s wings housed the first Gap clothing store. In the 1970s, the complex was sold to Voice of Pentecost and operated as a church and school for 39 years until it was foreclosed. The developer’s bought the block-long building at an auction for $1.06 million.

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