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]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Observer

    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.

  2. Posted by curmudgeon

    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….

  3. Posted by james

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

  4. Posted by Trip

    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).]

  5. Posted by the obligatory

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

  6. Posted by "Dave"

    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).]

  7. Posted by Stu

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

  8. Posted by kathleen

    I miss the gas station.

  9. Posted by bonny

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

  10. Posted by location

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

  11. Posted by ABC

    390 Hermann sold for $650,000.

  12. Posted by Bonny

    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.

  13. Posted by jeccat

    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!

  14. Posted by High Rise Harry

    Hey Tripp,
    I think that’s a W!

  15. Posted by SF Bubble

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

  16. Posted by viet

    Great value for the money.

  17. Posted by Observer

    Thanks curmudgeon

  18. Posted by neighbor

    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.

  19. Posted by Kurt Brown

    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.

  20. Posted by artdoggie

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

  21. Posted by BuyerBeware

    Liebherr refrig = fancy name for IKEA? (kidding)
    Does the car port/pad require any city permits, even though it’s within the property?

  22. Posted by sanfranvalues

    Looks like section 8 housing to me

  23. Posted by Anna

    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.

  24. Posted by Tom

    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.

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