Three years ago, the city offered to buy a mansion at 822 South Van Ness Ave. so it could remain a long-term care facility for those experiencing mental health issues. 

Instead, the property sold Friday for $3.33 million to a private LLC. 

Why didn’t Mayor London Breed ever go through with the deal? “Change of plans,” wrote the mayor’s press secretary, Parisa Safarzadeh, in an email this week. 

“It’s important to note that, while this purchase did not go through, the City is actively making great progress and investments in the expansion of beds, shelter and housing to provide adequate and safe support for San Franciscans in need,” Safarzadeh added. 

Breed and the city just reopened a 46-bed residential care facility on 658 Shotwell St. that will begin accepting clients Aug. 8. The Shotwell property closed for renovations and was acquired by A&A Health Services in 2017, but previously operated as a residential care facility that had 29 beds. 

From 2013 to 2019, the number of such beds in the city has declined by 999 to 600. 

The yellow and lavender Victorian at 822 South Van Ness Ave. has 15 bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, and a magazine-worthy interior. According to photos from its listing website, a chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and abstract art decorates the walls. 

“I put my heart and soul into this,” said Cathy Candelaria, a Coldwell Banker realtor who closed the deal Friday. It was the hardest property she’s had to sell thus far. A lot of customers were interested, but even for the wealthy of San Francisco, “the financials were so tough.” 

On Friday, Candelaria would not confirm who bought the property or how its owners intend to use it. Public property records were not yet updated. 

It’s unclear whether it will remain a residential care facility or change use. To change its use from a board-and-care facility, the new owners will have to get approval from the Planning Commission. 

The Parangan family has operated a residential care facility at 822 South Van Ness Ave. since 1981, but in 2019 wanted to get out of the business. 

Such facilites have long cared for seniors or those experiencing mental health issues who might also need individualized care and services. Some 27 clients lived at the mansion in the months before it closed in 2019. 

But in 2019, the property became an emblem of an ongoing problem in San Francisco: Residential care facilities were closing left and right, even though plenty of folks could use them. 

That’s why Breed offered to buy 822 South Van Ness Ave. in 2020, and the city sent a Letter of Intent to Purchase. At the time, the building was listed for $5 million. 

Before the building went back on the market for just shy of $5 million, the tenants were transferred to other facilities, like the Hummingbird psychological respite center at San Francisco General Hospital.

For her part, the realtor said she was ready to move on. 

Now that the sale is over? “I can’t wait to relax,” Candelaria said.


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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. The city leases this property for a year on a lease to purchase option and wastes all the money never moving anyone in. Will be interesting to see want happens here given the moratorium on converting these facilities to anything else.

    1. What moratorium? The building was being used as a residence before and so can be used as a residence now. The new buyer can simply move into what would be their mansion. There is quite a demand for large single-family homes under $5 million, especially ones as well-appointed as this one.

      It could also potentially work as a communal live/work space for work-from-home tech workers. There have been other successful examples of that in the Mission and elsewhere in the city.

        1. Yes but those rules mean that there are procedures to follow before a facility can close. But in this case the facility closed 3 years ago, so that isn’t the issue here.

          Once it was allowed to close it reverts to a residential property. If you buy it then you can live there. As for the time taken to sell I suspect that is related to the fact that the eventual sale was well below the original asking price. Covid probably a factor too.

          Think about it another way. If you owned a property like this and were thinking about converting it to a care facility, you would probably not proceed if you knew that the decision could never be reversed. You would be seriously damaging the value of your own property, and who in their right mind would do that?

  2. “The city is scrambling to place more than a dozen residents of South Van Ness Manor by Nov. 30”

    Uhh you later say this house has been closed since 2019. Not sure anyones scrambling.

  3. What about the Sheffield, the 32-bed former nursing home on S Van Ness at 22nd? It’s been empty for about a year, and is one-level, very accessible, and in great shape. There is such a terrible shortage of board and care beds–this would be a great investment for the City!