The 1905-era building came down Friday, Jan. 3. By the end of the weekend, all that remained at 3040 24th St. was a mini excavator and utility lines exposed by the demolition.
In its place, 18-year residents Susannah Meek and Jeffrey Pilotte — both architects — will build their future home: a 3-story multi-use building with two floors of residence over a ground-level commercial unit at the site where they’ve been living and working since 2001.
Meek, who specializes in designing schools, and Pilotte, who focuses on residential architecture, have been designing and planning the new home and workspace since they bought the building.
Over the years, the couple and their children fell in love with the single-story, stone-faced building — but they also outgrew it, Meek said. And they learned a lot about what they wanted from the site, in addition to what had come before.
“It’s not a historical building,” Meek said, “but it does have a history.”
When they bought the building, classified in city documents as a “flat and store,” it housed an art gallery run by Kelly Luscombe. A Christmas Day advertisement in the 1951 San Francisco Chronicle reveals United Television Service Co. was located there. One day last summer, Meek opened the door to a stranger: a restorer of antique safes who found their address on a safe he was working on. It came from a grocery store that once called their address home.
Meek and her husband, both architects, have based S Meek Architecture and Jeff Pilotte Design at the address. They even hosted their wedding there.
The now-vacant lot is surrounded by Alley Cat Bookstore and Maurice Corner Liquor on 24th Street and a Treat Avenue home at the rear.
The new structure — which Meek said will include “a very familiar horizontal slat appearance” on the upper levels and a glass storefront facing the street — should be completed in about a year. Meek, Pilotte, and their children plan to return to the home, and Meek hopes to move her architecture firm back into the commercial unit, possibly renting part of it as a shared workspace. Pilotte now works for a Palo Alto-based firm.
Meek said the western side of the building will be set back from the property line to create something like an alley. “I love alleys, and how cities have little remnants of things from the past,” she said. “Even though this is private, and not really an alley, it’s inspired by the unique open spaces that you find in cities.” Also, she said, it will let light and air inside.
In the storefront windows facing the street, Meek said they may continue featuring the work of local artists, as they did for many years (with the help of their friend, artist Cynthia Milionis) until vandals destroyed the glass one time too many. But after four months of delays on the project while awaiting a utility company to curtail service, Meek said they’re moving ahead one step at a time, and trying not to make too many concrete plans.
Moving back in, setting up shop, thinking about the windows: “We’ll get there as we get there,” she said. “You never know until you get there.”
More Demolition Coming
Meek’s former home and office was the first building on the 24th Street commercial corridor to be demolished since 2005, but two more could soon follow. Across the street on the same block, a demolition permit was issued Dec. 31, 2018, for the two-story building flanked by Harrison Street and Balmy Alley. That demolition will make way for a proposed low-income senior housing development that’s been in the works since 2009.
At 24th and Valencia, a permit to demolish the existing gas station is pending approval, but a permit to build a 6-story, 35-unit residential and retail building at the site was issued on Jan. 2.