February 15, 2013
Mercy Me: Hugo Hotel Is Historically Significant, The Plan To Mitigate
In order for Mercy Housing to move forward with their plans to build a new nine-story residential building with 67 affordable housing units on the corner of 6th and Howard Streets, they need permission to raze the existing Hugo Hotel and Defenestration.
Situated in the middle of the newly defined "6th Street Lodginghouse Historic District," the Hugo Hotel has been deemed a contributing resource for the District and the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) "has determined that the proposed [project] would result in an adverse effect, due to the demolition of 200 6th Street."
There is, however, a plan to address the adverse effect and allow Mercy to move forward:
To address the adverse effect on 200 6th Street (aka Hayston Apartment Building), MOH would execute a Programmatic Agreement with the [State Historic Preservation Officer] that would require mitigation of the adverse effects of the undertaking. These mitigation measures are designed to address the adverse effects on the historic architectural resources and include the following:
1. Historic American Building Survey (HABS) documentation consisting of a written historical report and archival photographic documentation; and,
2. An interpretive exhibit featuring the history of the site, previous buildings on the site and surrounding historical context. The purpose of the interpretive exhibit is to commemorate the significance and history of the site, the impacted historic resources and the district.
San Francisco’s Historic Planning Commission will weigh in on the proposed measures to mitigate the adverse effect of razing the Hugo Hotel next week.
∙ Redeveloping Sixth Street: Corner Of Sixth And Howard As Envisioned [SocketSite]
∙ The Hugo Hotel Has A Date With A Different Kind Of Bench [SocketSite]
∙ Hugo Hotel's Flying Furniture Update, No Word On The Graffiti [SocketSite]
∙ South of Market Resource Survey Says…Five New Historic Districts [SocketSite]
First Published: February 15, 2013 9:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
This is called progressive punishment san francisco style. I guess this is payback for turning your back on The City for lo these many years.
Posted by: Punishment at February 15, 2013 9:08 AM
Maybe they should simply build an "equally historic" building in another area to mitigate the impact of the lost history in this area.
Posted by: Mark at February 15, 2013 9:25 AM
This is one of the reasons this town sucks. People actually think protecting SROs and crackhouses is a good thing. Somehow we are protecting the old san francisco they love so much.
Midmarket/civic center/un plaza should be world class, instead its just stinky ass. The best thing is all the politicos that run this town have to work in the area and obviously don't give two !@#$s.
Posted by: nsfw999 at February 15, 2013 9:29 AM
It is beyond me why the City would want to keep a run down unreinforced masonry building.
Is this some kind of bureaucratic payback to an owner who hasn't played ball over the building's worth?
Posted by: Jackson at February 15, 2013 9:33 AM
Can someone explain to me what those two "mitigation measures" actually mean? Sounds like they want a report acknowledging the historical significance of Hugo and for the new building to have a mini-museum exhibit
Posted by: guest at February 15, 2013 9:39 AM
I agree - mid market stinks. We need to gentrify it to full extent and bring in mix of income.
Posted by: lax2sea4 at February 15, 2013 9:50 AM
Guest, that's exactly what the mitigation measures mean. Both are routine measures implemented when an historic building is slated for demolition. HABS documentation is overseen by the National Park Service and is very specific in terms of the types of documentation (plans, photographs, etc.) required. The resulting reports are then archieved in the Library of Congress.
Posted by: emanon at February 15, 2013 9:50 AM
The hysterical preservationists are, once again, slowing and stopping responsible progress in our city.
Posted by: futurist at February 15, 2013 10:01 AM
A run down eyesore infested with drug addicts is historical, but it's not history I have any interest in keeping.
I'm waiting for the city to argue that we shouldn't implement recycling programs because historically we generated more landfill. How will young people get a good appreciation for all the trash we have if we drive more recycling programs?
Posted by: sfresident at February 15, 2013 10:06 AM
It's a good thing they were not in charge in 1906. After all the great SF earthquake was also historically very significant.
Posted by: lol at February 15, 2013 10:07 AM
The way I read this, they have to take a lot of photos of the building, they put up a display in the lobby of "here once stood a bastion of weirdness." $20K all in. Not enough to move the dial on a big project.
Planners achieved 'mitigation' and self-validation, builder gets to build. City loses a dump. We all win.
I think a better choice is for Mercy to superglue a bunch of old houses to the outside of City Hall and let the voters choose the name:
A. The defenestration of Ed Lee
B. The ejaculation of Willie Brown
C. Hair product by Gavin Newsom
Thanks, it's been a great night. Be sure to tip your waitress.
Posted by: soccermom at February 15, 2013 10:20 AM
I said 'superglue houses' but I meant, 'superglue couches.'
See, it's funnier that way, because the hotel has couches attached to the sides. Not houses.
(tap tap tap)
Is this thing on?
Posted by: soccermom at February 15, 2013 10:24 AM
Maybe an earthquake will strike soon, cause this rundown building to collapse, and permit us to move on finally!
Posted by: MichaelG at February 15, 2013 10:31 AM
I'm not mad about this. That building proposed to replace the Hugo Hotel is fugly/boring as all hell. Despite the fact that the Hugo Hotel is abandoned, it is an interesting and unique part of SF's urban fabric, both in terms of architecture, and the art installation on it. Housing is great too though, come back with a better replacement and I won't complain much about the Hugo's demise, and I might even cheer for it. But the fact remains that things like this give SF character (not abandoned buildings or squatters, but historic buildings, art, etc). People sure as hell remember the wacky old building with furniture hanging out of the windows, but that replacement building would be completely forgettable.
Why don't they renovate the building instead, and keep the furniture on the exterior, giving us more housing, a reduction in blight/homeless squatters, raised land values, and retention of a historic building and art installation all at the same time (expensive I know, but everyone would win, pretty much). I generally support redevelopment, but this is an example where I can make an exception, given the current ugly replacement that's proposed, and the fact that the city would lose something that makes it unique.
Posted by: cbf at February 15, 2013 10:38 AM
The proposed building is pretty bland... The rendering isn't awful, but it would probably end up cheap looking like that new construction on Franklin. Remember, any apartment building that gets built here will likely be here for the next century. Personally, I'd just renovate the existing structure and turn it into market-rate housing... but that'll never happen.
Posted by: Denis at February 15, 2013 10:52 AM
"an interpretive exhibit" featuring what exactly? Defenestrated furniture, graffiti, blight and mold? This building is a blight on the city and should be razed and forgotten as soon as possible.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at February 15, 2013 11:08 AM
The cyclist on the picture is riding on the sidewalk. I'd say they made this rendering pretty darn realistic ;)
Seriously, we're talking about Howard and 6th where new and old already coexist. This building is in line with the style of our times, and it's not a pretentious impractical glass box.
Posted by: lol at February 15, 2013 11:13 AM
Must be a slow news day. Most of you people are jumping all over this, but as soccermom and emanon indicate, this "mitigation" is the tenderest slap on the wrist and doesn't affect the ability to demolish the building and adds infintesimally to the cost of the project.
I agree that I don't really see why this particular building is historically significant, but I'm not going to get all upset over the requirement to document it before it is dust.
Posted by: curmudgeon at February 15, 2013 11:19 AM
So can we start doing this for eathquake shacks and movie theaters as well? I would happy commission an interpretive dance number about an earthquake shack with a slide show of the house, i's demolition and then rebirth as a new dwelling.
Posted by: sparky*b at February 15, 2013 11:33 AM
yeah, I'd love this approach be used for market rate housing as well.
Posted by: lyqwyd at February 15, 2013 12:09 PM
So tired of hearing people call new buildings they dislike "fugly". It's like 13 year olds talking.
There are those here who will always complain about EVERY single new building proposed. They simply do not like change. They simply know nothing about new urban, modern architecture.
The new building proposed will be a welcome addition to this corner.
Posted by: futurist at February 15, 2013 12:19 PM
For the first 10 years, the "exhibit" will make sense, as some people will fondly remember that crazy building with the furniture on the outside. In 25 years, the "exhibit" will make absolutely no sense. Who the hell will care there was once a marginal quality public art project that was demolished?
Posted by: Q at February 15, 2013 1:11 PM
This is not a particularly good example of contemporary architecture.
The building presently there is not a particularly good example of Victorian architecture.
The hanging furniture is not serious art.
Rather negative I am today, but truthful.
Posted by: conifer at February 15, 2013 1:28 PM
I'm all for a modern building, but something that is appealing to me (that's right, ME, because my opinion matters too), like the proposed building on Folsom in today's piece. Now that's a cool building.
The SRO in question isn't worth saving, particularly because this corner could use additional height. However, you can preserve the facade (with or without the dated artistic embellishments) and incorporate it into a taller, modern building.
Posted by: Mark at February 15, 2013 1:36 PM
Sorry Mark but anyone that doesn't like how something looks and says so is just wasting Futurist's time and therefore should just really keep their opinion to themselves. Fortunately you didn't comment that a building was phallic cause that really sets him off.
This thread is just so full of useless complaints, be it people falsly complaining about the preservation of SRO's or this building be home to drug addicts (anyone in this building is a squatter as its been empty for years), complaints about the blandness of the building as if everything needs to be built as a work of art, complaints about people complaining about the look, and finally my complaint about all the complaints.
Posted by: Rillion at February 15, 2013 1:54 PM
So basically, Rillion, you had nothing to say. Ok, fair enough.
When we get comments here about someone liking or disliking a particular building and NOT offering to say WHY, that seems to me to be a pretty empty opinion. I have no problem with someone disliking a project, but the lack of elaborating why is the real issue.
Why not take a little bit of time, a few sentences to really offer reasons? It's not enough just to say something is a "cool" building.
I like the new proposed building because it offers a variety of materials and fenestrations and heights as it turns the corner.
Posted by: futurist at February 15, 2013 2:09 PM
Rillion, you are correct. It's like people commenting on food-related articles..."I hate spinach therefore I hate this recipe."
We have a great forum here to offer constructive criticism of plans and projects that shape our city and in some way, directly or indirectly, affect us. I have to admit that in the past 6 months of following this site I've developed a more pronounced sense of appreciation for construction projects in SF, whether or not I like the project.
3rd St. was a mess until the city razed most of it and filled it in with Yerba Buena, SFMOMA, etc. 6th St. certainly needs to be cleaned up and the addition of permanent housing is a good start. We have an opportunity to gain housing in an area that could use more stability and its proximity to other parts of SOMA, Union Square and FiDi is certainly an attraction.
Posted by: Mark at February 15, 2013 2:16 PM
Thanks for setting an example of elaborating on "why" futurist though it leads to the next question: "why is the variety good?". Someone else could just as well prefer simple unvaried forms. Could be personal taste.
In general we should take futurist's advice to elaborate when we can because it enriches the discussion. But it is also OK to just give a thumbs up or down if you cannot identify what turns you on or off.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 15, 2013 2:45 PM
I don't mind if it's "personal taste", but that really means very little within architectural criticism. It offers little if any insight as to why someone make like/dislike a proposed building.
Similar say, if you're at a "good" restaurant here in SF and you simply say to the waitperson later on that you just liked/disliked a certain dish. They will most likely be interested in WHY.
I'll be happy to stop harping on those who have nothing to say but like/dislike. I will simply ignore them, but I will value opinions and appreciate them more when there is added commentary.
That's really what makes this site interesting. I learn from other opinions and perhaps others learn from me.
Posted by: futurist at February 15, 2013 3:03 PM
I'd love this POS to be demolished and a new, modern structure built in its place, however, there are serious budget restrictions on what can be accomplished here due to the affordability requirement. The rendering is fine IF that's what were actually going to be built; the end result isn't likely to be that appealing. Obviously, not every new construction needs to be a luxury high-rise, but any structure designated as "affordable" is more or less immutable. Is a cheaply built apartment building the best use for this spot for the next 100 years? Does that glass retail space in the bottom have even a 1% chance of finding a tenant before the glass is graffitied or broken out?
Yes, the whole "historic boarding house district" BS is laughable, but the building actually isn't that bad. If it was renovated and contained mostly market-rate, three bedroom units it would make sense for families today and 50 years from now. Or tear the thing down and build UP. The city proper has finite amount of land in which to accomplish something great. The aspiration for mediocrity is discouraging.
Posted by: Denis at February 15, 2013 10:19 PM
It seems to me this is a very good compromise.
The defenestration is kind of cool, and the area does have a somewhat interesting history, but at this point it's completely beyond rehabilitation.
Preserving a photographic record of the site, but still letting it come down and be replaced by something much better is the right choice, I think.
Posted by: anon at February 16, 2013 6:57 AM
I cannot believe this. When I tried to remodel my 1885 Victorian recently, I was told it is a "historic" building. And then they collected an additional amount of money to submit the plans.
I hoped all that had changed, but it only sounds the same.
Posted by: gregscan at February 18, 2013 10:33 AM
The only cool building in SF to be torn down for that cheap, generic, boring box.
21st century Sham Francisco.
Posted by: sf at February 18, 2013 10:58 AM
Hey why don't we just keep all those "historically significant" crack houses and squat dumps on 6th street exactly the way the are? In fact, the city officials should come up with some additional completely non-sensical bureaucratic obstacles to new development. That way nothing will change and the 6th can continue to be the single worst street for crimes in the entire bay area. Awesome strategy, hope our representatives continue doing such a great job.
Posted by: midmarketresident at February 18, 2013 11:35 AM
Just dynamite this eyesore already! And if you accidentally use too much and flatten all of 6th Street, then don't worry about it.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at February 18, 2013 3:21 PM
So we can either have cool, interesting crackhouses or bland, styleless crackhouses.
I choose the former.
Posted by: sf at February 18, 2013 7:35 PM
why not both?!
Posted by: anun at February 19, 2013 8:20 AM
Really? You think that new development would turn into a crackhouse? Somehow I doubt that. If it did, it would be the most plush crackhouse I've ever seen.
I'd take a bland, styleless new residential building over a "interesting" dump of a crackhouse any day. But that's just me.
Posted by: midmarketresident at February 19, 2013 9:38 AM
This is poetic justice for the non profit that wants new low income housing. They celebrate when market rate housing gets stifled by historic demos, now here they are getting the same treatment. And lets face it, the proposed bldg is an ugly POS. why not keep and rehab the existing bldg. Get rid of the crack head people, not just the buildings in mid market, says I.
Posted by: 49yo hipster at February 19, 2013 10:30 AM