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Only one local home sold last month

REAL ESTATE | PATRICK BARBER

Single-family home sales in the neighborhood reached a decade low during the last month, with only one single-family home selling in Pacific Heights, Lower Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights and Cow Hollow from mid-June to mid-July.

The summer months are traditionally the slowest time for real estate activity in San Francisco. But even by seasonal standards, market activity this summer has slowed considerably, with single-family home sales in the neighborhood declining to the lowest level since the housing market bust in 2008. The prolonged shortage of offerings on the market in the city is largely to blame for declining sales.

The one property that did change hands is an impressive example of modern architecture and amenities. The home at 2833 Vallejo Street (above and below) sold for $17 million in late June. Just completed this year, the ultramodern residence also offers picture-perfect views from its roof deck of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts.

2833 Vallejo Street

Unity Church may become a pot shop

Unity Church (center) is in contract to sell its longtime home at 2222 Bush Street.

UNITY CHURCH has entered into a contract to sell its longtime home in the Victorian building at 2222 Bush Street — reportedly to a marijuana retailer — if the church can find a new location within the next year that is near mass transit lines and better-suited to its needs.

Church members voted earlier to hire a commercial real estate broker to explore the sale of the building — which is zoned for retail as part of the Fillmore neighborhood commercial district — and the purchase of a less expensive home that would be more accessible to its members.

A church leader confirmed the contract, but declined to identify the buyer. Records in the city’s new Office of Cannabis show the Vapor Room has submitted an application for a retail cannabis permit at 2222 Bush.

On August 18, the church was the location for what was billed as the world’s first Free Weed Comedy Show. For $35, attendees got to hear three local stand-up comics, plus two free drinks and, before the show outside on Bush Street, “a small amount of free marijuana to take home (no onsite consumption).” Munchies were available for purchase.

“It went really well,” said comedian and organizer Adam Hartle. “No plans yet to do another in San Fran, but maybe one day in the future.”

City sues Fillmore Heritage Center developer

The Fillmore Heritage Center’s public spaces are empty, and no change is in sight.

CITY ATTORNEY Dennis Herrera filed suit this morning against developer Michael E. Johnson — who built the Fillmore Heritage Center  — for more than $6.5 million the city claims Johnson owes for a loan that helped build the complex.

“The years of excuses are over. Time’s up,” Herrera said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “San Francisco taxpayers need to be made whole.”

For a few lively years beginning in 2007, the 50,000-square-foot space at Fillmore and Eddy housed Yoshi’s jazz club and restaurant and the 1300 on Fillmore lounge and restaurant, plus a gallery, screening room and garage. Yoshi’s closed in 2014 and briefly became The Addition, which Johnson ran himself before it too closed. 1300 on Fillmore closed in 2017 and now operates at the airport. The city took over the complex in 2017 when Johnson defaulted on the loan and has not yet figured out what to do with the empty commercial spaces.

“The city made this loan in good faith and has given Mr. Johnson every chance to pay back San Francisco taxpayers,” Herrera said. “San Francisco has worked with Mr. Johnson at every turn. Mr. Johnson has never held up his end of the bargain.

At a public meeting in May 2016, Johnson told the audience he had, in effect, had the project thrust upon him. He noted that he was primarily a housing developer when he was asked to become involved by local residents who wanted an African-American in charge.

He said it was a mistake for him to get involved in entertainment and restaurants. “It was a bad decision to go down that road,” he said.

After Yoshi’s on Fillmore declared bankruptcy, Johnson decided to run the club and restaurant himself. “I made another mistake,” he said. “We decided we’re going to try to resurrect it and create The Addition.”

He added: “We found out that operating that 28,000-square-foot facility was very difficult. We went six months. We couldn’t make it work. We had to close.”

The case is: City and County of San Francisco v. Michael E. Johnson et al., San Francisco Superior Court case no. CGC-18-568954, filed August 16, 2018.

CPMC scaling back local plans

The hospital finally relented to neighborhood pressure and relocated a generator at its entry.

CONTRARY TO EARLIER PLANS, California Pacific Medical Center now says it will scale back its operations in the neighborhood when a new state-of-the-art hospital opens next year on Van Ness Avenue.

Patients are expected to move into the new hospital in early March. The current hospital will then concentrate on ambulatory care for patients who do not require overnight hospitalization. That will bring a reduction from 2,100 to fewer than 500 employees at the existing hospital on Buchanan Street, administrators say, and an expected 30 percent reduction in the number of people who visit the current complex. There will be fewer doctors, too, and the emergency room will move to the new hospital.

Earlier plans had called for an expansion of facilities in the neighborhood, including a new building for ambulatory care on Sacramento Street, where the aging Stanford building now stands, and a new parking garage.

No more. “No new construction is planned,” said Ameet Nanda, a hospital administrator. “We’ve scaled back our plans.”

After the new Van Ness building opens, the hospital will close its facilities out on California Street, near Laurel Village. Some of those operations, including women’s health and breast cancer specialists, will move to 2333 Buchanan, along with some outpatient surgery. But the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the current hospital will be left empty, administrators said.

Neighbors who attended a community hearing at the hospital on July 11 were skeptical that hospital administrators were telling the full story. “To think that three floors of prime property in this neighborhood are going to be left empty defies belief,” said one.

Plan to tear down St. Dominic’s School sidelined

A PROPOSAL TO tear down the historic St. Dominic’s School and replace it with a modern new pastoral center over a 59-car below-grade parking garage got a chilly reception from the Planning Commission on May 24.

The project came before the Planning Commission with a recommendation from its staff that the proposal be rejected as inconsistent with the city’s general plan, which calls for preserving historic buildings.

“The project would demolish a known historic resource that has been deemed to be individually eligible for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources because it represents the work of a master architect and possesses a high degree of artistic value,” the Planning Department report noted. “Demolishing the subject building would represent the irreversible loss of a historic resource with significant architectural and aesthetic value.”

Noting that the project was located in what is primarily a residential area, the report concluded: “The department does not find the project to be necessary or desirable, as there is ample space on the subject site, namely the surface parking lot at the northwest corner of the site, that would be better suited for redevelopment. Likewise, there are opportunities to adaptively reuse the existing school building or to construct a rear addition to the building, which would achieve many of the project sponsor’s programming objectives while retaining the building.”

The planning commissioners voted unanimously to continue the proposal indefinitely and told church leaders to come back with a comprehensive plan for the St. Dominic’s block that included the school building.

EARLIER: “St. Dominic’s plans 5 new buildings

How Pacific Heights got a 40-foot height limit

One of the flyers distributed during the fight for a 40-foot height limit.

By SUSAN SWARD

On a Friday in April of 1972, Charlotte Maeck got a purple postcard in the mail at her Pacific Heights residence that she initially thought was a hosiery advertisement from the I. Magnin department store.

On closer look, she saw it was a city announcement of a hearing the following Tuesday on a proposal to rezone the areas between Van Ness to Steiner and Union to Washington to permit structures of up to 160 feet — or 16 stories. Before then, height limits of 65 feet and 105 feet existed in various parts of Pacific Heights.

Maeck, who was busy raising her four children with her husband, orthopaedic surgeon Benjamin Maeck, in their home on Pacific Avenue, knew nothing about planning codes and had never been involved in the brawling political fights over development in San Francisco.

She came from Staten Island, where her grandfather founded a marine hardware company. “We were concerned about neighborhoods, and families watched what went on,’’ Maeck recalls. But “I knew nothing about zoning.”

That was about to change.

(more…)

Condos under $1 million increasingly rare

Rare: A unit at 3330 Clay Street is currently on the market for $629,000.

REAL ESTATE | PATRICK BARBER

Continuously tight supplies and robust buyer demand have pushed up real estate prices in San Francisco’s most desirable neighborhoods over the past few years, making properties that sell for less than $1 million an endangered species.

Between mid-February and mid-March, 19 condominiums changed hands in Lower Pacific Heights, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and Presidio Heights. More than half sold for more than the original price and only two sold for less than $1 million. Compare that with the same period last year, when six of the 22 condominiums — 27 percent — sold for less than $1 million.

Patrick Barber is president of Pacific Union.

Historic Roos House finds its new family

Inside the Roos House, designed by revered Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck.

REAL ESTATE | PATRICK BARBER

In the dwindling days of December, an historic Presidio Heights Tudor sold for the first time — ever — making it the biggest single-family home sale of 2017 in San Francisco.

The home at 3500 Jackson Street, known as the Roos House, sold for $11 million, down from its original asking price of $16 million. Designed by acclaimed Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck, who also designed the Palace of Fine Arts and many other important buildings, the seven-bedroom home offers more than 10,000 square feet of living space. In addition to spectacular views of the bay, it features a stunning great room with 20-foot ceilings and is situated on a coveted corner location just one block from the Presidio. Since its construction in 1909, the home had been passed down through family members, making this its first-ever sale.

The Roos House at 3500 Jackson Street in San Francisco.

At $1,067 per square foot, the home represents an excellent deal for its location, but it took more than five months to find a buyer. One reason, in addition to its eight-digit asking price, is because it is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning there are restrictions on the renovations the new owners are permitted to make. The unnamed buyers, said listing agent Nina Hatvany, “are a family who will treasure it as it has been treasured by the Rooses.”

Patrick Barber is president of Pacific Union.

City tight-lipped on Yoshi’s

The Fillmore Heritage Center's public spaces are empty, and no change is in sight.

The Fillmore Heritage Center’s public spaces are empty, and no change is in sight.

IN THE two-and-a-half years since Yoshi’s walked away from the jazz club and restaurant it created in the much-heralded Fillmore Heritage Center, city leaders have met and talked extensively about what should take its place.

Now they have punted.

On November 3, City Hall abruptly announced that none of the five proposals that had been submitted by potential buyers of the complex would be accepted.

“Ultimately, the proposals presented to the review panel and the city didn’t realize the cultural and economic potential of the Fillmore Heritage Center and its significance to the community to allow the process to continue,” said Joaquín Torres, the point person in the mayor’s office for the project, in an email.

So, for now, nothing will be done.

Neither Torres nor anyone else in City Hall involved in the project would discuss publicly the shortcomings of the five proposals or what might be done differently during a second round. Torres repeatedly refused to be interviewed on the record, finally issuing a brief noncommittal statement that said: “The city is currently reviewing its options to produce a beneficial and impactful opportunity for the lower Fillmore neighborhood.”

The decision to start all over again came only days after the restaurant 1300 on Fillmore — the last business operating in the complex — announced that it too would close, at least for now.

St. Dominic’s plans 5 new buildings

Viewed from Pine and Steiner Streets, the plan calls for new church facilities over a parking garage.

The proposed view from Pine and Steiner Streets, with new buildings over a parking garage.

LEADERS OF St. Dominic’s Church are embarking on an ambitious building program that would demolish the 1929 school building on Pine Street and add five new buildings atop a 130-car parking garage.

Three of the new buildings would house church administrative offices, a pre-school and a much larger parish hall. They would be built on an above-ground podium over a one-level, mostly underground garage.

The church building, built in 1928, would not be altered beyond completion of an ongoing $20 million restoration project.

“It’s the parish hall that’s driving this whole thing,” said parishioner-developer Bill Campbell, who presented the plans to three dozen neighbors at an April 5 hearing. “This is the most active parish in San Francisco. And there’s a great need for pre-schools.”

The first phase of the “pastoral center and residential project” is expected to cost $10 million and take 18 months.

The church has begun an environmental impact report for a second phase — “We don’t know when or how,” Campbell said — which would build about 120 residential rental units in two buildings on the corner of Pine and Pierce, with two levels of parking underneath.

The rentals will generate revenue to support the church, said Campbell.

“We appreciate that you spent 30 minutes talking about how wonderful this will be for the parish,” one local resident told Campbell. “But it will be a catastrophe for the neighborhood.”

Architectural renderings from Field Paoli

Architectural renderings from Field Paoli, courtesy of SocketSite