CityPlace project approval spells doom for St. Francis Theatre

posted by CSWalczak on September 23, 2010 at 7:45 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Board of Supervisors has approved a developer’s plan for a new retail development on Market Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets which would result in the demolition of the St. Francis Theatre which opened in 1910 as the Empress. An attempt to at least preserve the facade failed.

Some opponents also wanted a historic theater facade renovated rather than torn down with two other buildings to make way for affordable electronics, sporting goods and other stores.

Transit and bicycle advocates said they didn’t want to stop the project but to ensure adequate safeguards for cyclists and pedestrians and limit parking to the 70 spaces allowed under the downtown plan.

The full story is at SFGate.

Comments (8)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

This doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. The St. Francis has been sitting for a long time, and this project seems like it will be good for the area. San Francisco also has a fair number of classic venues in decent condition. The real crime in this town was committed decades ago when the Fox was torn down. I would give you the Golden Gate, the Castro and all the rest if we could just have that one back.

Twistr54 on September 23, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I totally agree about the SFO FOX,….

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on September 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

If there was an inherent need to reopen the St. Francis, I would do everything I could to help make it happen. But with the San Francisco Centre cinemas one block down the street and the Metreon one more block over, this dead junkhole can go.

Now, what can we do to get the Northpoint back in operation as a commercial movie theatre?

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on September 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Eat your heart out folks…

I proudly have a beautiful Cherub, which was rescued from the 1963 ruins of the 5,000 seat Fabulous Fox, by a lady-friend of ours.

This gold-leafed treasure was situated over the inner center front lobby doors, between the two exit signs. It’s shown on pages 309 & 315 in the awesome book; FOX, THE LAST WORD by Preston J. Kaufmann.

CSWalczak on September 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I guess I am rather surprised at the apparent lack of affection for this old theater considering how much history it has; after all it is a hundred years old, many, many famous people appeared on her stage when it was a vaudeville house, it was once owned by Sid Grauman and later by Loew’s, etc. For such an historic city, San Francisco doesn’t seem to value its classic movie theaters much. I agree, the Fox was “The last Word” in elegance, and the Northpoint was a great place to see – especially – a 70mm film, but I think it sad to see this old girl pass away so unmourned. I cannot disagree that she became very decreipt both in the last years she was open and certainly since, but was a glass box full of popular merchandisers the only solution available to improve this section of Market Street?

terrywade on September 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Aw the St Francis in It’s roadshow 70mm days as a single screen theatre. Does anyone have a list of the roadshow movies they did play. I remember ‘Sweet Charity’ in 70mm played at the St Francis. I don’t think the new mall is going to work out in this area. This has to be the most seedy area in SF and It won’t change just because new stores are coming on the block. The shoppers and tourists will see who is walking on the streets and turn back. The new owners need to save their building money and re open the St Francis with a remodel job and show $2 second run movies like the Embassy Theatre now gone up the street. The zombie drug street people will be glad to come in from the rain and they might even pay for a cold drink or popcorn. What a great place to take a rest and not have to lay on the streets and beg all day. The new St Francis Theatre owners can offer wine to the street people. The local liquor stores will miss the business. If the new owners want to make some extra money they can build condos above the air space on top of the St Francis. The new condo owners will get a good view and smell day and night from this section of Market St. It’s time to remove the plywood and open up the boxoffice again!

JohnRice on September 25, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I think (and hope!) that the new mall is a step in the right direction. Market Street is pretty nice from the Ferry Building to 5th & Market and then it turns into a skid now no sane man’s land from 5th to about 8th. The two big shopping centers between 4th & 5th on Market have been very successful with locals and tourists and I suspect this one will be too. It should raise property values considerably on the other side of Market St. and hopefully on the adjoining blocks too. No doubt that will all take some time, maybe a lot of time, but like I said I think this is a step in the right direction for Market Street. Admittedly time may also prove me wrong!

That all being said I will miss the St. Francis too, the St. Francis in it’s glory single screen first run years that is, not the sticky floored twinned grind house of it’s final years where no matter what horrific double feature program was up there on the screen the real horror was in the audience! I miss all the Market Street theatres that I grew up with from the glorious movie palaces like the Fox, Warfield and Paramount to the great second run Embassy with it’s nightly Ten-o-win game to the rest of the grind houses, the Strand, Centre, Pix, Powell, Hub, etc. where you could see two flicks for as low as 50 cents and live to tell about it. This was of course before the grind houses became primarily inhabited by druggies, drunks and escapees from mental institutions. Going to the Embassy or Strand or St. Francis in any of their final days was no fun at all, at least in my humble opinion! Ah what fond memories of all of those Market Street theatres a half century ago though! Rest in Peace St. Francis, you will indeed be missed!

WilliamMcQuade on January 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

After San Francisco knocked down the Fox, nothing else matters much there.

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