November 1, 2013
Conversion Of Illegal Mid-Market Apartment Building Suspended
Noted by a plugged-in reader last week, San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection and the San Francisco Planning Department have just suspended the building permit for the conversion of 1049 Market Street from its current illegal residential use in order "to enable the City to obtain additional details about the building's historic and current occupancies."
On the radar of the Department of Building Inspection since at least 2007, around half the 75 units within the Mid-Market building between Sixth and Seventh Streets lack windows and are not code compliant for residential use but have been illegally rented to artists and others as "live-work" spaces for over a decade, as have the majority of other units within the building which have windows but were never legally converted from office to residential use.
"We clearly need to investigate further the recent residential occupancy of this building," said John Rahaim, Director of Planning. "Given the apparent long-term residential uses of the building, the owners may be required to undergo additional Planning Department review and public hearings, and to pay impact fees if they want to pursue the eviction of the tenants and establish an office building."
San Francisco’s Building Inspection Department issued a notice to the owners of 1049 Market Street to either legalize the building or clear the building of residential tenants a few months ago at which point eviction notices were prepared and served.
The building's former owners had filed a permit to legalize the building for residential use two years ago but never commenced the conversion and the building's new owners have decided it makes more economic sense to convert the Mid-Market building back to office use.
First Published: November 1, 2013 2:15 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
The picture illustrates something I have never understood.....why is Market street so ugly? With all the planners spinning their wheels in SFGov trying to "fix" Polk, Castro, Van Ness and Geary, it is interesting that Market continues to be so dingy, dirty and just plain ugly. Planners, police and sanitation services seem to be unable to clean up Market Street. We have funds to fill in Geary underpasses but not to fix Market?
Buildings like this should be completely torn down for there is nothing special worth saving. While many continue to claim that automobiles are the reason Market does not work as a street, I think it is ugly buildings like this that cause the failure that is Market Street. I still wish Market could be the Michigan Avenue of the West.
Posted by: Anon at November 1, 2013 4:02 PM
Really? I think it looks fine. It's not spectacular, but it's just stately and unpretentious. The only things that are dingy are (presumably) the low-rent storefronts, but that's hardly the building's fault. I'm sure a powerwash wouldn't hurt either.
Plenty of newer buildings are uglier, and if they're less dingy it's mostly by virtue of being newer and more expensive.
Now, there are a number of other buildings on Market which actually are pretty crummy...
Posted by: Alai at November 1, 2013 4:25 PM
@Alai, I would agree with you BUT, after living in London and Chicago I have come to just expect more of San Francisco.
I guess my point is we are saving buildings that are not worthy of being "saved". One visit to any other "world class" city will remind us that there is a lot more that should be expected of San Francisco's signature street. I think it is time for a major overhaul of Market Street.
Posted by: anon at November 1, 2013 4:39 PM
I am so tired of our planning department management. They are sadists, plain and simple. Why not just let the new owner make the building legal again? Or conversely use honey to help the new owner adjust to the idea of going residential (some tax abatement for the expense, or some waivers of certain requirements based on tenants signing documents waiving liability on the part of the city/owner. but no, instead its threatening and punitive planning speak from its purported "leader." I was talking to someone today who had been at City Hall for hours meeting with people and being treated like dirt of course, and she wearily said "this city's government reminds me of that college where the faculty all sat around lamenting how great their careers would be if it weren't for the students." Exactly: our city government acts like the way to fix San Francisco is to be nasty and oppressive to the people who elected them.
Posted by: $AN FRANCI$CO at November 1, 2013 5:16 PM
Ive never been to London, but New York has plenty dingy areas along major streets (8th ave near port authority, Broadway between Flatiron and Hearld Square). That section of Market hasn't been a high rent district in years (if ever?) That area seems to be center for social services, which I personally rather see funding for than the cutesy but useless parklets like at Castro and Market. The area is changing for the better, but it never was or will the Champs Elysses or 5th Avenue of SF.
Posted by: frshmn at November 1, 2013 6:32 PM
I rented small rooms to employes on this block
from 92 to 95.
for 15$ a week 500 sq feet on one floor a small
rm on 3rd floor with 4000 sq feet open space
and the basement for free.
After i asked them to leave they sued me and won.
I appealed and won at a cost of 20k
The original owner of the three buildings Mr Lane
had started renting rooms out in his first building in 94
Posted by: markk at November 2, 2013 12:26 PM
@anon London has plenty of dingy areas ... those that are not are completely unaffordable.
Posted by: Oceangoer at November 2, 2013 10:24 PM
I have a friend in this building and have no sympathy for the owner. This is an old loft building that was renovated to office space in the late-80s/early-90s or thereabouts. When I was a broker way back when I showed the space to a client when it was still just a loft. During past real estate cycles you could tell when the market was getting ready to turn down because when the developers started salivating over mid-Market. This time may be different. The owner literally got a steal on this building. He bought it for $29/SF (Believe it!) of building area in 2012, or around $200/SF per square foot of site area if you want to look at it as a development site. Other sites in the area have sold recently for a consistent $625-$650/SF. His method for moving the tenants out was to vacate the building floor-by-floor to convert it back to office use, using "legalization" as the pretext. Basically, the residential tenants carried the building for 25 years or so when there was absolutely no demand for such low-end office space.
Posted by: Schaetzer at November 5, 2013 10:00 PM