The former site of the Fizzary, a boutique soda shop turned abandoned storefront turned illegal casino and alleged brothel, is now slated to be transformed into 10 apartments.
This is the latest twist for the structure at 2949 Mission St. between 25th and 26th. After the Fizzary closed in 2015, the space was beset with the aforementioned hard-to-terminate illicit gambling den, which evaded shutdown for more than a year before being dislodged and chased to Bayview.
But that’s the past. Owners Roberto Sanchez and Jose Garcia are now proposing to add three additional stories to the two existing ones. This will create space for four residential floors above ground-floor commercial, in which they plan to construct four studios and six two-bedroom apartments.
Project architect and engineer Alex Santos sees this as a fresh start for a property with a rotten history. “What it was before, I’m not concerned with or a part of,” he said in a recent phone interview, “I know there’s some history to the site, but currently it’s a furniture store with a nice tenant.”
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El Corazón Gallery furniture store, owned by Sergio Piña, currently operates out of the building’s storefront. A worker at the store told Mission Local that its owners “knew it was a short-term lease,” and were not fazed by having to close up shop in the former Fizzary space soon. Their main store is located on 4889 Mission St. in the Excelsior. Nonetheless, Santos assures that they will be given “first priority” to reopen once construction is completed.
As for when that might be, Santos said it could take anywhere between 16 months and two years. The time frame will largely depend on what the neighborhood and community have to say about it, he explained, though the project is relatively small.
Santos hopes to “preserve the existing facade,” of the building, saying it is “consistent with the aesthetic” of the neighborhood. He adds that how many units will be set aside as affordable — likely a paramount concern among neighbors and neighborhood groups — has not yet been determined.
The project’s price is also unclear at this time, though Santos estimated that it would be under $2.5 million since they are not building from scratch.
The illegal casino and purported brothel, which proved challenging for the San Francisco Police Department to uproot, was the site of a shooting in 2016.
A local resident who visited the casino in 2015 described it to a Mission Local reporter as some 25 people drinking and gambling, with prostitutes and drugs available upstairs.
The casino’s attendees caused the neighborhood much grief, with loud music blaring late at night, fights breaking out and parked cars clogging up the narrow Lilac Alley, which runs behind the building. Taylor Peck, tenant and owner of the former Fizzary, even spray-painted “Illegal Club” on the storefront at the end of 2015 in an act of frustration.
The current design team, which includes Santos, sent 60 invitations to a pre-application meeting at the site on Tuesday in order to address neighborhood concerns related to the project, but was disappointed when only one local tenant attended.
Nonetheless, the plans are currently being submitted to the Planning Department and will await approval. They will also go through a 311 neighborhood notification process, in which the plans will be sent to the community for input. This will provide locals another opportunity to voice opinions on the matter.