October 24, 2007

One Of Four Little Donald MacDonald Urban Townhouses On Hermann

398 Hermann: Exterior

398 Hermann is one of four little (800 square feet each) urban townhouses designed by architect Donald MacDonald in 1983 with two full bedrooms (and one bath) down, and a single great room (combined living/dining/kitchen) up.

398 Hermann: Upstairs

It offers a one car parking pad (downside: it’s uncovered; upside: it doesn’t eat into the living space like at 390 Hermann). And it’s cater-corner to Duboce Park (which we happen to think is a good thing).

398 Hermann: Aerial

We’ll note that 396 Hermann (the yellow one) sold for $749,000 in March, while 390 Hermann (the brown one) was last on the market for $699,000 in September (and sold for $650,000). And no, we haven't had any experience with Liebherr refrigerators. Readers?

∙ Listing: 398 Hermann (2/1) - $699,000 [MLS]
Donald MacDonald Architects [donaldmacdonaldarchitects.com]

First Published: October 24, 2007 5:50 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

With yesterday's debate about the word 'mews', I can't think of a more apt example of a 'mews house' Have always liked these houses, but do feel that back in 1893 the site could have taken more density from a planning perspective given corner location and view of the park, not sure the city would have agreed, but these are well thought out and charming houses.

Posted by: Observer at October 24, 2007 5:56 AM

I think Observer meant 1983...

Yes, it always intrigued/annoyed me that the lots seem underbuilt. But my understanding is that it was Donald MacDonald's design philosophy that led to the small size, not any city policy. The surrounding density is much higher.

He also did a row of townhouses at the corner of Duboce that are even smaller. And Didn't he also do the "mews" development on 5th Street between Howard and Harrison? Also tiny units. As much as I deplore monster homes on principal, I wouldn't want to live as simply as MacDonald insists....

Posted by: curmudgeon at October 24, 2007 7:38 AM

only in san francisco, nyc or london would these places fetch anything close to this kind of cash. amazing!

Posted by: james at October 24, 2007 7:40 AM

These are nice, well-designed places that make great use of the space (although I agree that multi-unit housing would have made much better use of the real estate). And the location is excellent, especially if you MUNI downtown to work. I may be mistaken, but I seem to recall that when 390 Hermann was listed, the price was dropped by something like $50,000 (to $699K) then it just disappeared from the MLS. As far as I can tell, it was not sold.

My two cents on the refrigerator -- I know nothing about Liebherr appliances, but using the brand of refrigerator as a selling point has always seemed to me like putting "full tank of gas" in a used car classified ad.

[Editor's Note: 390 Hermann was originally listed for $735,000 before being dropped to $699,000 (at which point we lost track of it as well).]

Posted by: Trip at October 24, 2007 7:45 AM

Is he related to Ronald? Note the distinct 'M' in the photograph.

Posted by: the obligatory at October 24, 2007 7:58 AM

Liebherr is essentially the "Sub Zero" of Europe. I dare say that a $5,000 fridge is a bit more worthy of mention than a tank of gas...

Completely OT [Removed by Editor]

[Editors Note: That's "Off Topic" (and we'll stop you right there).]

Posted by: "Dave" at October 24, 2007 8:25 AM

Wait a minute -- I thought the painted ladies were on alamo square

Posted by: Stu at October 24, 2007 8:56 AM

I miss the gas station.

Posted by: kathleen at October 24, 2007 9:02 AM

That's a steep $/SF for a park that my mom's group complains about having syringes in the children's playground.

Posted by: bonny at October 24, 2007 9:13 AM

Bonny, welcome to San Francisco. Parks are for dogs and junkies, not for children.

Posted by: location at October 24, 2007 9:35 AM

390 Hermann sold for $650,000.

Posted by: ABC at October 24, 2007 10:00 AM

yes, i'm a country mouse in SF, but we don't have junkies hanging out at our playgrounds further north. and playgrounds and parks are not the same thing.

Posted by: Bonny at October 24, 2007 10:32 AM

This is a great (but petite) place at a great price. Will it actually go for $699K? If so, this is the first thing I've seen that makes me feel wishful that I hadn't just bought!

Posted by: jeccat at October 24, 2007 10:50 AM

Hey Tripp,

I think that's a W!

Posted by: High Rise Harry at October 24, 2007 11:11 AM

390 Herm. was originally on the market for $735K, before going through several price reductions.

Posted by: SF Bubble at October 24, 2007 11:13 AM

Great value for the money.

Posted by: viet at October 24, 2007 11:20 AM

Thanks curmudgeon

Posted by: Observer at October 24, 2007 11:31 AM

I've rented in the whitish apartment building with solar panels in the lower right hand corner for 10 years and the neighborhood is fantastic. However, the idea of living in essentially a one-room place that is 1/3rd the size of my rental for 3x the price is what keeps potential buyers like me on the sidelines.

Posted by: neighbor at October 24, 2007 1:38 PM

When you walk thru these places, you can see the upper floors are quite nice, cozy and livable, but the "bedrooms" on the first floor leave only 1 to 2 feet strips of space between a queen bed and the walls. Very very tiny. And the bathroom is one of these "bang your knees on the sink while sitting down" kind of spaces.

I'm a former homeowner in the city (Noe Valley), and now a renter in Duboce Triangle since April of this year and I've never been happier, both in terms of $/sqft/month, over all financials, and psychic health. I highly recommend it, even if only for a few years break.

Posted by: Kurt Brown at October 24, 2007 2:46 PM

Liebherr refrigerators are the best! I have a very sleek tall one in my place in NYC & love, love, love it.

Posted by: artdoggie at October 24, 2007 4:10 PM

Liebherr refrig = fancy name for IKEA? (kidding)

Does the car port/pad require any city permits, even though it's within the property?

Posted by: BuyerBeware at October 24, 2007 10:43 PM

Looks like section 8 housing to me

Posted by: sanfranvalues at October 24, 2007 11:42 PM

I looked at one of these - not the corner- about 5-6 years ago. I'm standing in the garage with my realtor, who did not move his Lexus SUV into the garage but in that obnoxious way blocked the sidewalk. "You can park your car in here!" he said, and I taunted him, "Why don't you park yours?" It was obvious that no real car, except a Mini or perhaps the Scion, could fit. I agree with the other commenter- I don't want to live as simply as MacDonald insists. The fact that the walls are thin, the windows are pretty atrocious, and there's no height so you can't really see the park. For urban infill it should be multiple tenant housing.

Posted by: Anna at October 27, 2007 1:15 PM

I looked at the place next door and though small and cute may be fun at first, you don't really want to live in a place that small. That's why they turn over so frequently.

Posted by: Tom at June 10, 2008 2:28 PM

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