Mexican Museum receives key approval for new building 

click to enlarge A future home at 706 Mission Street will allow San Francisco's Mexican Museum a place to showcase their entire collection. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • A future home at 706 Mission Street will allow San Francisco's Mexican Museum a place to showcase their entire collection.

Tens of thousands of art pieces and artifacts from Latin America are closer to a new, permanent home in The City after a plan to build a museum cleared an important step Thursday.

The Mexican Museum was formed in 1975 by artist Peter Rodriguez in the Mission district, and the facility moved to a temporary site at Fort Mason in 1982. It has remained there since, amassing a collection of more that 14,000 objects that span from pre-Hispanic times to the present.

But the limited space at Fort Mason has never allowed the museum to showcase all of its pieces, and it has been working for years to move to a site near Yerba Buena Gardens, a neighborhood that’s home to many prominent museums.

That plan took a step forward Thursday when the Planning Commission approved an environmental study for a new development at 706 Mission St.

The developer, Millennium Partners, proposes to remodel a historic building at Third and Mission streets and build a new 550-foot tower on what is now a vacant plot adjacent to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The $170 million project would connect the new tower to the old 10-story building.

The building’s ground floor would contain retail or a restaurant, the next four floors would house the museum, and the rest would contain up to 215 residential units and office space. The museum’s four floors would triple the exhibit space it currently has at Fort Mason.

“It is very gratifying,” Mexican Museum Director David J. de la Torre said of the approval. “It is the first step forward in what will be a significant process this spring and this summer.”

The project still faces a number of other approvals, including the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval of the reuse of the historic Aronson Building, which was constructed in 1903. It also faces a final sign-off from the Planning Commission, which signaled Thursday that there is still work to be done on pedestrian and traffic issues in the area, among other issues.

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