Force Proves to Be with Developers of The Coronet

San Francisco--The Coronet, a new 150-apartment senior housing building in the Richmond district of San Francisco, springs up on the site of the demolished Coronet movie house.

San Francisco–On the site where George Lucas wowed moviegoers with the inaugural screening of Star Wars in 1977, an entirely new kind of affordable senior housing enjoyed its formal opening two weeks ago. The occasion was the unveiling of The Coronet, a new 150-apartment senior housing building in the Richmond district of San Francisco, on the site of the demolished Coronet movie house.

A 1,350-seat movie palace from the post-war era, the Coronet theater had long since outlived its usefulness. The Institute on Aging (IOA), a San Francisco non-profit provider of senior health services, bought the theater in 2000, later selecting BRIDGE Housing Corporation as the master developer of a structure to replace it. The six-story complex was developed by BRIDGE Housing, and financed in part by a $19.4 million tax credit equity investment from Union Bank.

The building houses both The Coronet, the 150-unit apartment senior community, as well as the IOA’s Geary Blvd. Campus.

The latter is the provider “who can check on the eligibility of would-be residents and provide HMO-style senior health care,” BRIDGE Housing Corporation’s Senior Project Manager Don Lusty tells MHN.

“This model leverages the strengths of our two organizations. Ours in the development and management of housing, and the Institute on Aging’s ability is to provide health care for seniors. It allows us to serve a frailer population of seniors, sharing with the IOA the goal of helping seniors live independently in their apartments for a longer period of time. The building is beautiful, but it’s the synergies of the organizations that make it noteworthy.”

Key factors ensured the district was the right one for the new $92 million building. The northwest side Richmond enclave, unlike areas such as downtown San Francisco and the city’s southeast side, was notable for a lack of senior housing, Lusty says. The IOA’s previous site had been across the street from the Coronet theater, and it was intent on consolidating its services in the same district, because its clients were there. Finally, Lusty says, Geary Blvd. is a busy thoroughfare, helping make The Coronet a transit-oriented development.

Co-locating both senior housing and an organization devoted to senior health care in the same newly constructed building would appear an idea whose time has come, as well as a notion worth copying widely elsewhere. “We’re just starting down this avenue of collaboration,” Lusty says. “Though we have these overlapping shared goals, we do see certain things differently.

“We will find out what those differences are, and how we can work around them going forward. But this is really an interesting model, and one that will be emulated around the country.”

Aside from its link to America’s cinematic heritage, The Coronet is likely to spur at least one other historically oriented trivia question. It was built, Lusty says, by the same contractor who built the original theater in the mid 1940s.

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