The three-story husk of a building at 2551 Mission Street has been vacant and accumulating graffiti now since 1987, but efforts to transform it into art galleries and retail spaces are finally showing some progress.

There are many vacant eyesores on Mission Street, but probably none as notorious as what was once the Cine Latino building at 2551 Mission Street. You’d be forgiven for not knowing that it was once the Cine Latino movie theater, considering that theater closed way back in 1987, and this Mission Street building near 21st has been vacant ever since. For nearly ten years, the building has looked like what is seen below.

2551 Mission Street in 2018. Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

There had been plans in recent years to turn the place into a 20,000 square-foot gym, but those plans were shot down when the permits were revoked in 2019 over unauthorized removal of the building’s old historic facade. (The building's owners won a $200,000 settlement over that decision.) And so the long limbo continued several more years, but now Mission Local reports that permit applications have been submitted to make the building art galleries, art studios, and retail space. And maybe even an outdoor movie theater on the top level.


While the permits are all still under review, there is definite progress being made on the structure that’s directly across from the Alamo Drafthouse. As we see above, there is now a new facade and windows on the building. A look through old Google Street View pictures shows the building has not had a facade or any windows for more than ten years running.

Construction is already happening inside the structure, and Mission Local notes the owner has filed permits for a ground floor art gallery and retail use, and art studios on the upper floors.

The building is owned by the Vera Cort Trust, and as Mission Local also reported, Vera Cort passed away a week ago today. Cort had reportedly hoped the second floor could be turned entirely into artists' studios.

“Vera wanted to do right by the building,” the project’s architect Charles Hemminger told Mission Local. “She was dedicated to the building to the end."

And as we’d previously mentioned, there is a possibility that the roof of the new structure could be turned into an outdoor movie theater. But one imagines that plan would run into opposition from noise-averse neighbors, who complained about live music at Bissap Baobab and the back patio at nearby Casements.  

We should note that these are all just plans for permit applications that have been submitted to the SF Planning Department. These permits are still under review. But it is at least an encouraging sign that some manner of construction has started at what’s been the empty shell of a building for decades.

Related: Long-Shuttered, Dilapidated Eyesore Alexandria Theater Finally Inching Toward Becoming Housing [SFNews]

Image: Google Street View