From Auto Repair Shop to New Housing

The notice on the former auto repair shop on 3135 24th Street.

The notice on the former auto repair shop on 3135 24th Street.

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The light green building lying vacant at 3135 24th St. between Shotwell and Folsom Streets will forever leave its auto repair days behind.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal to turn the two-story former auto repair shop into a mixed-use development of residential units atop 1,675 square feet of ground commercial space.

“I’m psyched about this project,” Oren Rubinstein, project manager of moc10consulting, said Thursday after the approval. Rubinstein and Yakah Askew, an architect and owner of Y.A. Studio, designed the project.

What makes the development unique to 24th Street isn’t so much the creation of housing, but everything the planners propose to pack into the ground level.

They envision local artists, designers, and merchants using the ground floor space as part of the Mission Independent Retail Collective. Members will operate and sell their products. Community events will also be encouraged to “establish the Collective as a community oriented business model,” said Rubinstein, who is an artist and furniture maker.

“It’s truly a model for our neighborhood and the merchant corridor,” said Erick Arguello, president of the Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighbors Association.

The project plans to give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to obtain shared storefront space via micro-leases with terms that work best for the artist or merchant.

Mission residents who attended the meeting were also excited about what the new development will bring.

“I grew up in the Mission,” said Hector Garcia, who is in the military. “I really think it’s a good idea for people who don’t have enough money to start their own business.”

When Vladimir Abramov inherited the auto repair shop from the former owner five years ago, he said he asked himself how the building could contribute to the neighborhood.

“I am not a big developer,” he said to the seven planning commission members.  “I am small business.” Abramov runs La Parrilla Grill on 24th Street.

One by one, commission members lauded the the project’s innovations.

“What’s most intriguing,” said Commissioner Kathrin Moore, “is that [the project] creates units on multiple levels and can be used in the planning department as a prototype.”

The nine market-rate residential one to three bedroom units will range from about 1000 to 2000 square feet, according to Rubinstein, the project manager. The facade of the building will be preserved even as the new height of the building is set at four-stories.

Rubinstein declined to disclose the exact cost of the development but said it was certainly less than $5 million.

“It’s not 100 percent clear that it will be financed,” he said. “There’s nobody out there with deep pockets.”

Although they have a construction loan with Wells Fargo to build the project, members of the planning team put up their own homes as collateral. But with the unanimous approval from the planning commission, they’ve passed “a big hurdle,” said Rubinstein.

If all goes well and the loan gets settled, Rubinstein expects the construction to start in January and to be finished within a year.

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