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New Plans for S.F. Theater to Bring Arcade Bar, Housing


Plans to rehabilitate an abandoned San Francisco theater are resurfacing in a redevelopment project that would bring new housing and an arcade/bar to Divisadero Street.

Emporium Arcade Bar, which owns two Chicago locations, wants to move into the Harding Theater. Renovations would include getting it up to code, since the building, built as a movie theater in 1926, changed to a live performance space and then converted to a church in 1971, hasn't had a tenant since 2004.

The request before the city's planning commission calls for converting the vacant theater with The Emporium taking up about 14k SF and then adding a new five-story, seven-unit residential building on the vacant part of the lot fronting Hayes Street. The new plan could be approved by the planning commission in two weeks.

Emporium combines arcade games from the past 30 years with a full bar, often hosting live music, movie events and arcade competitions. (Below is a pic from one of its Chicago locations.)


Redevelopment of the Harding Theater has been contentious from the beginning, starting with a proposal in 2003 to raze the building and construct 18 residential units and more than 5k SF of retail space on the spot. That plan, though approved, was challenged and eventually tabled in 2008.

Other plans along Divisadero Street put forth this year include one to demolish an existing car wash, gas station and two other buildings to make way for a new 158-unit residential building with 7k to 8k SF of retail.