Purchased by the Hive Communities LLC for $6.495 million in April of last year, an ongoing battle with a number of neighbors and San Francisco’s Planning Department over the apparent commercial use of the 5,493-square-foot condo at 651 Dolores Street, one of four condos within the converted Second Church of Christ Scientist, appears to be nearing an unceremonious end.

Zoned for residential use, an advertisement for a fee-based yoga event to be held in the unit first raised eyebrows and suspicion last July.

Under threat of a formal notice of violation (NOV) and potential penalties – and warned not to hold “any other commercial events at the site” and to disallow anyone to work in the space unless it was their place of residence – a game of cat and mouse appears to have ensued.

From Planning in response to an inquiry at the end of last year:

On December 5th, 2016, a new complaint was filed regarding 651 Dolores Street (aka 95 Cumberland). The complainant alleged that the unit is being operated as office use and that the unit hosted a meditation event at the location. Our planners followed up with the contacts (the tenants and owner of 93 Cumberland). The owner of 93 Cumberland (The Light House Development, LLC) confirmed that they have no connection to 651 Dolores.

While the December complaint was subsequently closed, a new complaint alleging the ongoing use of the unit as an office and event space for Hive was filed last month.

And this morning, 651 Dolores Street returned to the market listed as “Another chance to live in The Light House!” with a $6.795 million price tag.

But there’s one last thing to note.

When Hive purchased 651 Dolores Street for an “over asking” $6.495 million last year, it was by way of a $4.495 million loan. And it wasn’t a bank that provided the financing but rather the aforementioned Light House Development, LLC which developed the property and had “no connection to 651 Dolores” in response to Planning’s inquiries.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Notcom

    I’m confused: the linked article mentioned condoS (emphasis added) , as in there being four of them planned; this article mentions only one; so is only one of the units at issue, and if so it just seems like an unpermitted use issue, largely unrelated to who owns it…and utterly unrelated to the conversion (other than it being the same building, of course).

  2. Posted by scott f

    This dome should become a museum or something. It’s stupid that it turned into ridiculously opulent massive condos.

    Notcom, I think you’re correct that only one of the four condos are at issue with regard to alleged commercial use.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Perhaps, but I think that it was nice that it was saved and a viable use found for it, even it’s not one that everyone would have chosen…eclesiastical structures are often hard to adapt to other uses, tho CS’ preference for monumental, but simple classical buildings I suppose gives them an edge over, say, something like Grace Cathedral.

    • Posted by Dr. House

      > “It belongs in a museum” (paraphrasing)

      Thanks Mr Indiana Jones – would you care to buy this building and endow a fund for its upkeep? Or is this just another thing the City should pay for by raising taxes even higher, and borrowing even more money (raising taxes on our children and grandchildren)?

      I am positive that if anyone had the money and interest to make this a museum, it would already be one. Since apparently no one does, a more useful use of the property was found, rather than it sitting derelict in hopes for a future museum mogul to take it.

      • Posted by scott f

        Did you read the article? Someone had the money and interest to make this a yoga studio. It’s not allowed, and neither would a museum, because of the zoning.

  3. Posted by Misty Mae

    They also used this residential unit for fundraising. I do not think it’s zoned for commercial activity. Raised over 1m dollars for those Trump hats that they passed out at the Trump rallies. A neighbor had a photo of catering boxes and hat boxes in the recycling bin.

    • Posted by Jwoodruff@hill-co.com

      No. No one in that building was raising money for Trump. I know all the owners.

  4. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    I will come right out and predict that the seller will not get $6.795M. In my non-expert opinion there aren’t that many (wealthy) people who want to live in a converted former house of worship knowing that they just aren’t going to get away with any surreptitious commercial uses for the space.

    That said, judging from the pictures above it seems that splitting the place up into four townhomes rather than one big mansion was the right call from the developer. This result seems to me to be about an order of magnitude more tasteful than the conversion of The Mission Park Congregational Church at 601 Dolores ten years ago or so.

    • Posted by Notcom

      The pictures in the article you linked appear to be prior to its conversion into a school…do you have any post conversion? (Although I agree that what was shown – which appears to be simply plopping furniture down into the nave – while kind to the fabric of the building, left something to be desired.)

      • Posted by Jwoodruff@hill-co.com

        601 Dolores was converted into a school. This is 651 Dolores – now four condos.

        • Actually to further clarify, the same developer converted 601 into a single family but then sold it to Childrens Day School as a better use and the. Turned around and restored this property.

          Both properties had huge seismic retrofit mandates that their very small congregations could not afford. The congregation at 651 Dolores had tried for years to have the building torn down and or even tried at one point to convert it into a mall. So while not everyone may love the current use, as another poster already commented, these were really the only viable economic ways to restore and preserve these buildings that met with general neighborhood and City approvals.

  5. Posted by ramon sampredo

    i had a massage across the street from this place last weekend. i couldn’t get over all the neighbors living in (i’d suspect rentals) who congregate out in front of their building and party. screaming kids, smell of pot, lots of liquor being swilled. it wouldn’t surprise me that there would be several complainants. a $6M home in this neighborhood somehow just doesn’t fit.

    • Posted by jwb

      There have been multiple sales north of six million within a block of Dolores Park in the past year. It is highly desired property.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Swilling liquor, smoking pot and screaming all sound like stereotypical “new money” behavior…the kind that buy $6M houses; not that the stereotype is true, of course: the 80% give the rest a bad name..

    • Posted by jlasf

      It looks like there is a fence surrounding the building. How did they use the steps in front?

  6. Posted by Stop Driving

    Wonky layout, but I love the ample space.

  7. Posted by unlivable city

    The un-permitted use thing has gotten out of control in this town. There is this bro mentality of “if everyone else can just elbow their way to what they want, why can’t I?” So we have parking on sidewalks all over town (but boy will they ticket you for an expired meter), people living in RV’s of all kinds by the 100’s, disguised (barely) tech offices tucked into every conceivable space, rich tech bro’s installing huge sound systems and using their un-permitted tech offices as un-permitted frat boy club houses, etc. etc. etc. Who you gonna call? Bro busters?

  8. Posted by Katdip

    Had to re-read the back story to clarify that 651 is just one (really big, really expensive) condo. I just don’t understand the financial plan here -why would anyone spend $6M+ to use a place as a part time office/event space? Was the financing so hinky that this made more economic sense to the Light House developers than just selling the condo to actual buyers?

    • Posted by Jwoodruff@hill-co.com

      The owner/buyer was the founder of Hive and part of his vision is a live work atmosphere. It just did not work here. All very well intended.

      • Posted by Neighborhood Activist

        Well-intended people generally don’t operate by engaging in illegal activity (using a residence as commercial space) in the hopes that they will get away with it. These are not unsophisticated hillbillies. They knew what they were doing wasn’t legal.

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