The former San Francisco home and studio space of the late Howard Hack has sat (mostly) vacant for over a decade, with interior walls that were purposefully (re)moved by the artist and a “profound” amount of deferred maintenance.

Listed as a remarkable “blank canvas” after Hack’s passing for $1.2 million last year, the sale of the deteriorating Laurel Height building at 54-56 Cook Street closed escrow with a contract price of $1.455 million in August of 2016.

And this past Friday, 54-56 Cook Street returned to the market listed as two uninhabitable “fixer units in need of substantial remodeling,” with an “initial inquiry” of San Francisco’s Planning Department having indicated “up to 7,000 [square feet] of covered space” could be built upon the parcel, but without any approved plans or permits to commence said work, and a list price of $1.399 million.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by BTinSF

    I just feel good for the neighbors that something may be done with this eyesore.

  2. Posted by Amewsed

    This should be a complete tear down so $1.4 Million for the land price then? Maybe in a better market.

    I know a family who lives on Parker Avenue, a block over, in a large renovated home with separate quarters for the housekeeper. It is a nice quiet still affordable neighborhood and convenient.

  3. Posted by Patrick

    On the left side of the frame you can see the large pine tree that was the subject of a dispute over cutting it down.

  4. Posted by Chris W

    Keep the tree. Kill the house.

  5. Posted by PanhandlePro

    If that structural work is legit, this home could end up being a steal as a flip. Open floor plans sell. If the flipper doesn’t need to drop major money on structural work to make that happen, my guess is the economics could look very favorable.

    • Posted by SFMichael

      But then you have to wonder why the current owner, who presumably had the same plan, didn’t do it themselves.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      If you’re talking about those exposed trusses with diagonal bracing, my guess is that they’re just a kludge to address the immediate symptoms. Though they help there might not be solid engineering behind the whole system of load transfer. For example the truss load seems to be transferred to the floorboards. What is supporting the floorboards?

      This is at minimum a total gut job. Open up all the way to the framing to repair and replace the damaged framing and foundation. As a bonus, now that the walls are open all of the electrical, plumbing, etc. systems can be upgraded too. And it presents an opportunity to modernize the floorplan too.

    • Posted by oscar

      would love to understand the assumptions for why you think this would be a steal. i’m not a pro but i’m having a hard time penciling out the numbers of this one.

  6. Posted by ncydr

    Don’t forget to factor it the mortgage payments for the time the building sits empty while going through planning and building permit approvals.

  7. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Exhibit A for the repeal of Prop 13 – unconscionable that in a city with the property values we have, and the housing crises we have, that this could sit as a vacant eyesore for over a decade – enabled to do so by the grandfathered low property taxes from Prop 13.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Prior to being reassessed after its sale last year, the annual property tax bill for the property was $1,001.

    • Posted by Anon123

      You can make a case for repeal of prop 13 for properties that are not the primary residence of the owner, but a complete repeal is unlikely and hardly desirable. You might as well argue for the repeal of all rent control.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Actually a repeal of rent control is probably more likely (less less-unlikely) than repeal of Prop 13 – I certainly recognize that, and my original comment was a bit of hyperbole. But this is certainly an example of where the system fails the community as a whole.

  8. Posted by Robert

    Simple economics: If it were a steal, someone would have already stolen it.

  9. Posted by Keepitup

    Are they passing out hazmat suits for the the open house and viewing? Just curious.

  10. Posted by Been There

    While perhaps technically Laurel Heights, it’s hardly Laurel Heights. It sits on the dead end street that is only accessible via dreary Geary. Should be called lower LH, just like the goofy lower PAC Heights.

  11. Posted by jimbo

    definitely not laurel heights. this is jordan park or USF area.

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