SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — City officials celebrated the reopening of the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco Wednesday following a two-year $5.7 million renovation project.

The renovation, led by the San Francisco Arts Commission, redesigned the plaza outside the building at 4705 Third St. to create an outdoor theater and a landscaped area for children’s activities and community events.

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The South San Francisco Opera house on Third St. was constructed in 1888 to be a performance venue but the 1906 earthquake brought down the curtain on that.

The building later became a community center, but over the years, often sat unused.

“It’s such an iconic structure for the community that we wanted to bring it back and activate this space,” explained SF Public Works Design & Construction Manager Julia Laue.

The rechristened Bayview Opera House finds the interior mostly unchanged, but the biggest change will be who will finally get inside the building.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal mandate, so whenever you renovate something over a certain amount you have to bring it all up to code with full accessibility,” said Laue.

Now, a sweeping new ramp welcomes people in wheelchairs to every part of the building. One wall had to be pushed out 12 inches to make the new restrooms ADA compliant.

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The balcony had to be reinforced for seismic safety, even though no one can actually use it anymore because it’s not wheelchair accessible.

And finally, the entire back wall of the building had to be replaced when dry rot was discovered inside. Those were just some of the challenges of bringing the historic building up to current codes.

“It’s kind of like the analogy of pulling at a sweater, you know, you pull at a sweater and everything comes apart,” said project manager Paul Cooper of TEF Design.

But the real jewel of the remodel is what’s out back.

A grass play area, butterfly garden and outdoor stage with plenty of room for wheelchairs in the audience.  A building that has welcomed the community for nearly 130 years is finally a place for everyone.

Mayor Ed Lee, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Supervisor Malia Cohen and other city officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony early Wednesday evening.

More information about the opera house can be found online at

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