A coffee shop, a wine bar, and a home décor space featuring salvage yard treasures — all are coming to town. Yep, as the song goes, it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas.
Jonathan Siegel, owner of the upcoming Viracocha Creation Factory, a furniture store at Valencia and 21st streets, said, “The philosophy behind it is to utilize and give rebirth to things that already exist.”
The same could be said for what is springing up throughout the vacant storefronts lining Valencia Street. And in that spirit, Mission Local invites readers to Build a Block to fill in the remaining vacancies and to have a conversation about what the neighborhood needs, wants, can’t live without. For those that are listed as soon-to-bes, are you happy with what is going in or is already there? Any advice for the new owners?
The extensive work that went into this was funded by a campaign through Spot.Us.
Here are the blocks to build: 400 Block between 15th and 16th, 500 Block between 16th and 17th; 600 Block, 17th and 18th; 700 Block 18 and 19th; 800 Block, 19th and 20th; 900 Block, 20 and 21st; 1000 Block, 21 and 22nd; 1100, 22nd and 23rd; 1200 Block between 23rd and 24th; 1300 Block, 24th and 25th; 1400 Block, 25th and 26th. All of these are linked at the end of the update again and on the Build a Block page. Enjoy.
During the four months since Mission Local’s last Valencia update, three storefronts have become vacant and six are now available for rent or for sale. Meanwhile, another five vacancies from the last map have been leased and three of the soon-to-bes have either opened or will open this month.
One storefront that has sat idle for the last 10 years – the old window shop at 1169 Valencia St. near 23rd Street – is close to being sold.
“One more hurdle and you’ll soon see a ‘Sold’ sign up,” said Don Jose Barrelier, the real estate broker.
The stories behind many of the vacant storefronts show that finalizing the paperwork on a property is only part of the battle. Fully three storefronts are waiting for final permits to open their doors.
Grub and the Little Sparrow – soon to be restaurants in the 700 and 400 block of Valencia – sit pretty as their alcohol licenses get processed, according to the notice on their doors. The only novelty at the former is a little welcome note: Hooray 4 Yuppies!
Zaytoon Mediterranean Ways is one of two empty storefronts near 22nd Street across from the City College of San Francisco’s Mission campus. It’s been caught in a building inspection limbo since 2008, when the first permit was issued for restaurant remodel and kitchen revisions.
“It’s been a real drag,” said Susan Quarterman from Bay West Property Management. “It’ll open as soon as the building department gives them the okay.”
The Department of Building Inspection has demanded a lot of corrections to the property, from a permit filed on Jul. 3, 2009 to revise the previous permit and install a full restaurant hood system, to the last one filed on Sept. 3 for fire sprinklers.
The holdup in permit processing doesn’t always happen with the Department of Building Inspection, said William Strawn, the department’s communications manager. In the case of safety issues, other agency reviews are required and a permit can get stalled with the fire or planning department.
“We haven’t had as much demand for permit processing like we’ve had in good economic times,” added Strawn, “especially if it’s a restaurant type of facility.”
Next door, there’s the promise of more food.
Since January, the reflection of the Mission Campus’ Aztec calendar was the only thing that could be seen through the windows of the vacant space at 1132 Valencia St.
The owner had originally intended to rent the property for $4 a sq. ft., but recently settled for $2.50 per sq. ft.
The For Rent sign was pulled only two weeks ago and the new renter plans to open a crepe restaurant.
Borderland Books will unveil a new 1,500 sq. ft. coffee shop at 870 Valencia St. on Dec. 18. In its previous life, the space was an upholstery shop that was left in bad condition.
“We’ve totally revamped the space,” said Jude Feldman, the store’s manager. “We did all the work that needed to be done ourselves.”
A block away, one can see artisan and 16th Street poet Jonathan Siegel at 998 Valencia St. assembling the stuff he gathers from salvage yards to recreate what will be the home décor store by day. By night, the 3,600 sq. ft Viracocha Creation Factory will become a performance space for musicians and artists.
“In a way this is for me a glorified garage sale with the intent to keep replenishing the space,” said Siegel. He signed a 10-year lease two months ago and expects to hold his first event on New Year’s Eve.
After four years of being empty, the three spots at 1270 Valencia St. will soon be occupied. An artsy wine bar will open within the next month, featuring work from local artists as well as film screenings.
The antique store Gypsy Honeymoon will move in next door from its original location on 24th and Guerrero while Arizmendi Bakery will set up shop at the remaining space in a few months, according to Ron Mallia, the property’s owner.
Meanwhile, a handful of properties sit empty and unavailable.
The Charles Phan promise continues to be just that, a promise. His three adjacent properties on the 500 block of Valencia Street remain vacant as the Slanted Door proprietor opens restaurants in other parts of the city. Although he intends to open a restaurant “soon” at this location, he said recently that he hasn’t because of permits. In the meantime, one of the spaces at 584 Valencia St. is now a private gallery of one artist. It’s open by appointment.
La Rondalla restaurant, closed since 2008, is now being remodeled. It won’t reopen for another eight months, said the owner Carlos Barrios.
The owner at 657 Valencia St., near 17th, has pulled her property off the market, despite receiving offers from contractors and developers willing to buy and fix up the fire-damaged space.
“She wouldn’t sell it even if she were offered a million dollars,” real estate agent Mark Kaplan said of the building’s owner.
Although Kaplan said the owner could probably sell the property for $600,000 as is, she has decided to instead shop for a loan to fix it up herself and make it available for rent in February.
Kaplan admits that the price is high, but pointed out that financing is finally becoming available. “It’s a matter of time,” he said, before the commercial market begins to recover in the footsteps of the housing market.
This might explain why the biggest change along Valencia Street could be the eight new flats now up for grabs at 1495 Valencia St. That, and the 17 housing units coming onto the market on the 700 block in the next few months.
Six of the residences at 1495 Valencia St. were open for contract on Nov. 20th. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat has already been sold for $739,000 and an offer was made on another – the asking price $899,000.
The mixed-unit building comes equipped with a 1,000 square foot commercial space that will open as a vintage clothing store in January of 2010, according to Frank Nolan, the prim and proper sales associate who was hosting an open house one recent Sunday afternoon. The asking price was $400,000.
One block north near 25th Street, however, the lights have been out at 1380 Valencia St. for the first time since 1975. In the last two months an escrow company and an acupuncturist have considered it, but no one has made an offer.
“We get a lot of interest but no action,” said Jim, who declined to give his last name, but said he owned the office space.
The offices at 455 and 475 Valencia near 16th Street were also recently vacated when the Chinese healing center at 455 lost a portion of it’s funding and had to move to a smaller space. The printing company at 475 simply went out of business.
“We’ve had quite a few interests,” said George Johnson from West Coast Property Management of 475 Valencia St. “It takes just the right person.”
Barrelier, the real estate agent for the neglected window shop at 1169 Valencia St., agreed.
The shop went up for sale when the previous owner’s wife passed away two years ago. Since then, Barrelier has had four accepted offers.
“One by one they failed,” he said.
The storefront has been in such bad condition that until recently, few buyers cared to knock at its door, he said. A mess of wood panels in various sizes could be seen through the opaque windows, scarcely reminiscent of what the shop once was.
When the previous owner passed 10 years ago, his wife decided not to do anything with the shop.
The initial offers failed because the commercial space is part of a mixed-use development that includes housing units. Potential owners couldn’t work out deals with tenants and one developer even attempted – unsuccessfully – to pay the tenants to move.
Banks want a buyer to put a 40 percent down payment, which at an asking price of $750,000, comes to $300,000.
“It put an end to the discussion,” said Barrelier. “The most likely buyer will be an all-cash buyer who can pay a 40 percent down payment.”
One such buyer has stepped up to the plate and plans to start a software company.
“It should become a bagel shop,” said Barrelier jokingly as he passed a broom from side to side outside the storefront.
Click below for a link to the map:
Here are the blocks to build:
400 Block, between 15th and 16th,
500 Block, between 16th and 17th;
600 Block, 17th and 18th;
700 Block, 18th and 19th;
800 Block, 19th and 20th;
900 Block, 20th and 21st;
1000 Block, 21st and 22nd;
1100 Block, 22nd and 23rd;
1200 Block, 23rd and 24th;
1300 Block, 24th and 25th;
1400 Block, 25th and 26th.
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Jan Masaoka, Angelo Fernando, Tanja Aitamurto, Daniel Egnor, Ariel Vardi, Mark Rabine, Francisco Barradas, Megan Casey, Mission Dwellers, Leef Smith, Lila LaHood, Steve Gifford, Jennifer Roberts, Tori Tuncan, Seth Benton, Kara Andrade, Pepper Mint, Ken Ott, Chris Sacca, and especially to David Cohn at Spot.Us who is tireless in promoting good journalism.