The Mission is full of buildings that give one the sense that something interesting is happening inside. We call them Odd Buildings, and this is an occasional series on their stories.
The words “historic,” “classical” and “Edwardian” are rarely used to describe a single-room-occupancy (SRO) hotel, but that’s just what the Altamont Hotel is considered.
The 96-room SRO, on 16th Street and Julian Avenue, is a century-old building owned by the city and managed by the Mission Housing Development Corporation.
Built in 1909, the four-story mixed-used building is eligible to be listed with the California Register of Historical Resources because of its Edwardian-era architecture and because it was built shortly after the 1906 fire.
It has also had its fair share of complaints from tenants for mold and bedbugs. All complaints have been abated, according to building inspection records.
These days the building, which houses a nonprofit and a produce market on the first floor, is going through some changes. The city recently took out a loan for about $400,000 to do some work on the property, including making repairs to the sidewalk, working on the plumbing, making energy efficiency improvements and fixing leaks, according to Mission Housing Development Corporation’s executive director, Larry Del Carlo.
Another change is that the Mission Hiring Hall, a nonprofit that helps people find work, left the building after more than 40 years as a tenant.
“We want a new dig and a new look,” said Don Marcos, Mission Hiring Hall’s executive director. “You got to do that once in a while — reinvent yourself.”
The Mission Hiring Hall was one of the founding organizations of the Mission Coalition Organization, which was formed in 1967 to represent the interests of working-class, mostly Latino residents in the district. At its height the coalition involved more than 12,000 residents and dozens of organizations. It was seen as a voice for the district in many political groups, according to the book “Ten Years that Shook the City.”
Two years ago, when rents were cheaper, the Mission Hiring Hall looked for places to rent, but found none. Its space was too small, and it was difficult to maintain privacy and confidentiality.
Unable to find new space, the organization’s Mission District staff consolidated with the SoMa team on Seventh Street. The organization continues to serve Mission residents at its satellite office at City College’s Mission campus.
“The economy was right to consolidate temporarily,” Marcos said. “We’ve gone through different economic cycles, you adjust.”
One thing that’s surprised Marcos is that the unit has not been rented since it came on the market in October. The asking price for the 1,300-square-foot space is $5,300, or about $4 per square foot.
“I was surprised it didn’t go on the first week,” he said.
Once the rebuilding process begins, Marcos promises, the organization will come back to the Mission, though at a different location.
“We are embedded in the Mission,” he said. “We couldn’t get away even if we wanted.”