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Dental school may become condos

Landscaped townhouses might replace the dental school's parking lot.

The six-story building at Webster and Sacramento Streets that is home of the dental school of the University of the Pacific — which is scheduled to move downtown next year to Fifth Street — may be converted into condominiums.

Trumark Urban, a privately owned development company based in Danville, is exploring the possibility of creating 110 to 130 high-end condos in the existing building. In addition, on the 17,000-square-foot surface parking lot to the west, they would add townhomes and landscaping between Sacramento and Clay Streets.

“We’re in the early stages of figuring out how we might re-purpose the building,” said Kim Diamond, Trumark’s development director. “But we’re really excited about the area and the building.”

Diamond and Trumark managing director Arden Hearing have been reaching out to neighborhood leaders as part of their due diligence in deciding whether to go through with their tentative agreement to buy the property. Among others, they consulted with Pacific Heights Residents Association board members Greg Scott and Paul Wermer, who raised the perennial concerns about parking and traffic but responded positively to the idea of creating residences. The building has been widely expected to become another medical building, given its location near the hospital.

“This is probably the least impactful use of the property,” said Wermer.

Diamond said her company is unlikely to proceed if there is opposition to the project. “We really want the neighborhood’s support,” she said.

Is the Gold Coast becoming a Tech Coast?

Apple design chief Jonathan Ive purchased 2808 Broadway, originally built for the Hellman family.

THE GOLD COAST, also known as Billionaire’s Row, is home to many of the most exclusive and expensive homes in San Francisco. Along the three blocks of outer Broadway, from Divisadero to the Lyon Street steps, rise magnificent properties that have traditionally been home to San Francisco’s old guard — wealthy, philanthrophic, multi-generational families. Heading into 2013, the Gold Coast is turning over to a new breed of young tech execs.

Read more: “On the Block

Inside the Getty Mansion

Photograph of Ann and Gordon Getty's living room by Lisa Romerein

DESIGN | DIANE DORRANS SAEKS

Twenty years ago, interior designer Ann Getty began a large-scale redecoration of the Pacific Heights residence where she lives with her husband, Gordon, a composer. It was built in 1906 to a classic design by architect Willis Polk and offers an entry hall with collections as opulent as any London museum. The Gettys, generous philanthropists, often entertain an international retinue of cultural and political figures.

At auctions in New York and London, Ann Getty acquired furniture from the great English country houses, including Badminton House and Ditchley Park. Unable to collect French antiques — she says the Getty Museum was in an acquisition phase, and even her budget was not large enough to bid against the family museum — she gathered George II gilded chairs, dramatic Anglo-Indian beds inlaid with mother-of-pearl and porcelain and ormolu objets.

“I love the heft and boldness of English antiques,” says Getty, who is also a champion of art education.

In Paris she scooped up vivid 18th-century silk brocades for pillows. From the estate of dancer Rudolf Nureyev she acquired velvet patchwork textiles, which she made into dramatic curtains.

The renovation, plus the addition of a new wing when the Gettys acquired the house next door, took place over a decade.

“This is the ornate look I love for myself, but I don’t impose it on my clients,” she says. “My work is not all over-the-top design. For clients, I want rooms that reflect their style.”

Even among this grandeur, there are quiet corners for an afternoon tête-à-tête overlooking the Palace of Fine Arts.

Her gracious rooms, with tufted sofas and chairs covered in plum-colored velvets and golden silks, are at once exotic, dazzling and comfortable. Party guests can often be found sprawled on silken sofas, and friends curl up to sip Champagne on chairs covered with luscious Venetian hand-woven silk velvets.

A quartet of Canaletto paintings hovers above a gilded console table in the music room, a theatrical stage for family celebrations. A Sèvres porcelain table commissioned by Napoleon (its pair is installed in Buckingham Palace) stands in a corner. Gilded benches and tables from Spencer House, plus a silk-upholstered glass chair with the look of carved crystal, all demonstrate Getty’s original eye.        

While Ann Getty can design entirely practical rooms for young families, the rooms in her own home glow with baroque splendor. Blossoms, birds and butterflies painted on pale blue Chinese silk panels glimmer on the walls of a bedroom.

“Designing is a minor art, but such a pretty one,” says Getty as she glances around her living room. “I love to create interiors that please the eye. Beauty can be so uplifting.”

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Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, published by Rizzoli, is available at Juicy News, 2453 Fillmore, and Browser Books, 2195 Fillmore. More on the author’s design blog, The Style Saloniste.

Local parks being renovated

A new irrigation system is being installed on the south side terraces at Alta Plaza Park.

IT’S SUMMERTIME, and the living is not so easy for those in the neighborhood who take their dogs — or themselves — for a walk in the park.

Both of the neighborhood’s four-block hilltop greens — Lafayette Park and Alta Plaza Park — are mostly brown this summer. Both are undergoing renovation.

At Alta Plaza, what’s billed as a “water conservation project” includes a new irrigation system on the south side terraces, which are dug up and fenced off, except for the grand staircase at Pierce Street. The northern half of the park remains open, including the playground and tennis courts. The project is on track to be completed in September.

Lafayette Park is getting a full-blown makeover, thanks to $10 million from a bond measure passed in 2008 and additional funds raised by Friends of Lafayette Park for a deluxe new playground. About three-quarters of the park was fenced off when construction began in June. But then a neighbor’s complaint brought the work to a halt.

Shannon Gallagher, who lives across from Lafayette Park, appealed one of the permits for the project. Her detailed written objections are due by August 9 and will be heard by the Board of Appeals on August 22.

Gallagher was pilloried as a prime example of the “tyranny of the few” by Chronicle columnist C. W. Nevius, too common in what he called “the city that can’t say yes.”

Gallagher was a no-show at an August 1 community meeting on the Lafayette Park renovation.

Dogs are now welcome only in a small area on the north side of Lafayette Park.

At the meeting, project manager Mary Hobson said work had resumed under permits that were not appealed. Hobson and other staffers from the city’s Recreation & Parks Department said they were confident the appeal was without merit and would be rejected, and that the project could be completed in 10 months as planned.

Some in the audience of approximately 100 residents questioned why Gallagher had not raised her objections during public planning sessions for the project, and why she wasn’t at the meeting.

“She had to go out of town because people were threatening her,” responded Pat Lovelock, who described herself as a friend of Gallagher’s and said she shared her concerns about proper permitting, dust and disabled access.

Others at the meeting questioned the removal of trees, and whether trees, plants and birds are being properly cared for during construction. Revised plans call for the removal of 44 trees, with 58 new trees to be planted.

EARLIER: Lafayette Park renovation gets green light

Creating a new public space

Photograph of the Fillmore Stoop by Daniel Bahmani

DESIGN | NICK KINIRIS

Three years ago, the concept of the Fillmore Stoop was born, with the intention of making the northern stretch of California Street near Fillmore more pedestrian friendly and softening the harsh visual of the busy four-lane highway. The idea was to create a public space where neighbors could meet, relax, take a break from shopping or just hang out.

San Francisco has embraced these kinds of parklets — usually two parking spaces converted into mini urban parks. The parklet movement originated here, but was inspired by beautification efforts in New York that reclaimed dead urban spaces and transformed them into parks and plazas. The idea also takes its cues from European cities, where urban pedestrian zones have always been valued. The parklet concept has since expanded across the globe.

Each parklet in San Francisco has its own flavor. The Fillmore Stoop was designed by architects Jessica Weigley and Kevin Hackett of Siol Studios at Fillmore and Clay. Its multi-tiered sculptural form provides several levels for pedestrians to sit. It both creates more space for people and also acts as a barricade against the busy California Street traffic. The $25,000 project was funded by Chase Bank, which recently opened a branch across the street from the parklet.

EARLIER: “Parklet sprouting on California Street

Ellinwood mansion back on the market

The Ellinwood mansion at 2799 Pacific Avenue — sitting prominently on the corner of Divisadero Street — is back on the market for an asking price of $12.5 million. The house underwent a $10 million renovation a decade ago, but was repossessed last year. Curbed reports on the multi-generational drama of the house, which was originally on the dividing line between San Francisco and the Presidio.

Read more

The Fillmore Stoop is unveiled

The first parklet in the neighborhood — in front of Delfina Pizzeria at 2410 California Street near Fillmore — is now accepting visitors. It’s a new public space that offers a spot to pause in the sunshine.

EARLIER: “Parklet sprouting on California Street

Lafayette Park or Peyton Place?

ORNITHOLOGY | Monte Travis

From my ninth floor office near Lafayette Park, I’ve been watching a pair of red-tailed hawks engage in aerial courtship flights since early this year.

In late March I saw the hawks carrying sticks to a large nest high in a eucalyptus tree in the park, undertaking a little remodeling. A few days later, I observed one of the hawks poking its head above the rim of the nest. This suggested at least one egg and probably more had been laid in the nest. If all goes well, we should have chicks in about a month.

As I was photographing the female hawk on the nest, I was alerted by the screams of about 20 red-masked parakeets — the famous parrots of Telegraph Hill — who suddenly bolted into the air from the treetops directly overhead. I looked up, and there came the male redtail swooping in from the west. When the male arrived at the nest, the female, who is larger, rose up, and for a short time both stood on the nest (above). Then the female took off and the male settled in for his shift.

Redtails are monogamous and generally mate for life. But later that same day, I witnessed a mystery: three adult birds on the nest (below). For 45 minutes, all three alternately flew to and from the nest. A menage a trois, perhaps? Or maybe redtails, like certain other species, sometimes employ one of their young from the prior year as a helper. This will bear watching in the coming days.

It’s a domestic ornithological mystery. But it seems appropriate for San Francisco: an alternative avian family.

Parklet sprouting on California Street

Crowds gather outside Delfina Pizzeria on California near Fillmore nearly every day at noon and nighttime. They’re waiting for a table, preferably one of the coveted spots out front.

Soon the waiting may be more convivial — and the odds of snagging an outside table considerably improved — when the Fillmore Stoop is completed. It’s the first parklet in the neighborhood — and one of the few with a proper name — although the take-back-the-pavement mini-parks are already a big hit in North Beach, on Divisadero and especially along Valencia Street. They transform one or two parking spots into a public space, usually with tables and chairs and a bit of greenery.

The Fillmore Stoop is the creation of Jessica Weigley and Kevin Hackett, architects whose firm, Siol Studios, is at Fillmore and Clay. Their proposal takes the parklet idea a step further by creating sculptural benches and planters in two parking spots, with room for four or five tables from Delfina. They gained the endorsement of neighboring businesses and persuaded Chase Bank — coming soon across the street — to pony up $25,000 to cover construction costs.

The city has approved the plans and issued permits. Most of the work will be done off-site, with installation in late March or early April.

Making a mark on Pacific Heights

John Field designed the six shingled row houses at 2641-63 Union Street.

ARCHITECTURE | JOHN FIELD

Although I’ve lived in Pacific Heights for many years and designed homes here, I never thought of myself as a Pacific Heights architect. When I was asked recently how many houses in the neighborhood I have designed, I had to stop and think. I’d never counted them.

There must be 20 or more, most of them published in Sunset or House and Garden. Alas, they aren’t easy to pick out. There’s no unique window style, no striking modern minimalism; San Francisco wouldn’t stand for such statements in the 1960s and 70s. I designed gracious modern housing, most of it blending in with shingles or hiding behind a Victorian exterior. Even then some of the matrons of Pacific Heights thought my designs were out of place.

They may have had a point. I used bay windows in designs that weren’t Victorian, shingle walls as if they were white plaster, and glass wherever there was a view. I turned a ballroom for a mansion into a three-story home and carved parking out of many existing residences, one of them still with a fireplace, mantle and marble trim in the garage.

The real art of designing in San Francisco has always been capitalizing on whatever view there is, while concealing the exposures that aren’t so good. That’s true for city living everywhere.

Within three blocks on Broadway, I designed three completely new houses that are visually related only by their proportions. On the surrounding blocks are eight or 10 irreverently remodeled Victorians, two of them for my own family.

Probably my best known local project is a group of six shingled row houses at 2641-2663 Union Street. The design provoked a storm of protest from neighbors, who feared their property would be devalued by these houses only 16 feet wide — not realizing their own Victorians were often no wider, although built on wider lots. The design was published in several magazines and won many awards, including a special governor’s award for contemporary California design.

As in all cities, the housing stock is limited in Pacific Heights. New owners want to make their houses their own, so they remodel. People live differently now than they did before, and their houses reflect the changes. But I still harbor a hope that some of the simple elegant spirit of the places I have designed will live on.

Read more: “Architect, filmmaker, now a photographer