Creative Historic Reuse Inspires Urban Planning | Fog City Journal

Alamo Drafthouse could make use of California’s Mills Act, which can reduce property taxes through agreed renovations and preservation of the existing historic New Mission Theater. Photo by Andy Sweet.

Before reuse began in 1996, “you could shoot a cannonball down the street and not hit anyone,” Sandmeier said. Today, the number of residential units has grown from 11,000 to 40,000.

The adaptive reuse also speaks to San Francisco’s current acute housing shortage and increasing rent prices, which often pushes young urbanites across the Bay and reduces access to low-income communities, which can be seen in the sprawling gentrification of the Mission District.

“I do think that adaptive reuse alone does not ensure cultural preservation and this is why other planning tools need to be developed to promote cultural preservation,” said San Francisco Architectural Heritage Project Manager Desiree Smith. Her organization is working on preservation planning in the Japantown and South of Market Districts, like the three-story tall St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which is to be redeveloped into offices.

The preservation of historic buildings also provides a “tangible” connection to the past, said Smith.

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