Property owner Dave O’Toole and architect Leonardo Zylberberg held a pre-application meeting Monday night for a proposed eight-unit building at 2966 24th St., next door to the iconic music store Discolandia.
O’Toole, who runs a construction firm, plans to demolish the empty warehouse currently on the property and build four one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units with a rooftop deck, a backyard garden and a commercial space on the ground floor he hopes “will encourage and help the community as a whole.”
O’Toole estimated the project will receive all necessary entitlements in 18 to 24 months, but did not say how long after that the building would be complete.
“The storefront has high ceilings,” Zylberberg wrote in a project description, “which makes it ideal for an art gallery or other culturally oriented uses.”
However, the commercial space’s 14-foot ceiling was one of several contentious points for the meeting’s attendees, most of whom were Calle 24 members.
Maria De La Mora, a member of Calle 24’s executive board, suggested the room, and building as a whole, be built two feet shorter.
The most direct criticisms came after Calle 24 member Alicia Sandoval asked what the area median income level would be for the building’s intended tenants.
O’Toole said the building would be market rate.
While the project is only eight units, Sandoval said, market rate apartments drive up the cost of other rentals in the neighborhood. This project’s affordability level might negatively impact nearby neighbors.
“Housing is very valuable in the Mission right now,” Sandoval said
O’Toole said he wanted the units to be reasonably affordable, but also had to set a price that was feasible. As an example, he said his employees, “good skilled tradesmen, Irish, Latino, American,” should be able to afford units.
“Market rate is not affordable,” said De La Mora. “Nobody in this neighborhood can afford it.”
After De La Mora asked O’Toole if he lived in the Mission, and O’Toole said no, the meeting fell silent for a moment before Zylberberg, the architect, noted that he did live in the Mission and had for decades.
Meeting participants also suggested, among other things, eliminating the rooftop deck to discourage partying, adding language to leases that acknowledged that the housing was in the Latino Cultural District, and changing the color of the glass on the ground floor.
“The building is ugly,” said Marie Sorenson, a member of Calle 24.
While O’Toole had been interested in the property for eight months, he finalized his purchase less than a week before the meeting, buying it from Silvia Rodriguez, founder of the iconic but now-shuttered Discolandia Records, and her son, William Rodriguez.
It is unclear what the final price was, but it was on sale for $1.8 million.
After somebody filed a complaint in 2017 alleging that the warehouse on 2966 24th St. was being used illegally for housing, a probe by the Department of Building Inspection found 27 illegal units in the warehouse.
In July, 2019, while the Rodriguezes were trying to acquire a conditional use authorization by the city to demolish the housing and return the building to its initial purpose, they stated, through their lawyers, that the commercial tenant occupying the warehouse had illegally converted it into housing without their knowledge.
On behalf of Calle 24, Arguello wrote a letter of support for Rodriguez and her son in which he also said the tenant was responsible for the “substandard and unsafe spaces.”
In the first letter, attorneys at Wendel Rosen said the Rodriguezes had spent more than $200,000 attempting to comply with Planning Code Section 317, which sets the rules for demolishing illegal housing back to its original use. Attorneys also stated that the Rodriguezes spent $128,000, along with unstated amounts of fees, relocating the tenants living on the property at the time of the discovery.
The conversion back to commercial space cost another $33,600, according to DBI permit records.
In August, as O’Toole and the Rodriguezes were working out the sale, inspectors from DBI did a final check of the property to certify that the work was complete.
Toward the end of the meeting, Calle 24 member John Mendoza said he appreciated how open O’Toole was to their suggestions and concerns, and looked forward to working together on the project in the future.