Sullivan's Funeral Home in the Castro (2254 Market Street), one of the last vestiges of the neighborhood's pre-1960s Irish heritage and a tragic, central landmark during the AIDS crisis of the 1980's and 90's, may not be long for this world. As Socketsite is reporting, a developer has filed plans to add three stories of residential above the funeral home building, and to construct two more interconnected buildings next to it, in what is now the parking lot, with one fronting 15th Street on the other side. Bearing in mind what a funeral business might do to residential property values, it seems clear that a sale has gone through or is pending, and Sullivan's will be going away.
Sullivan's opened in 1924, and as the Castro Courier told it in a 2009 piece, the Sullivan family sold the business in 2007 to another local funeral family, the Duggan-Serras, though longtime owner Jim Sullivan remained there, working funerals and doing things he enjoyed. Last May Sullivan told CBS 5 that he was considering selling the building, given how much the property could be worth, and following a big-rig crash into the front of it that caused a significant fire. "I’m getting ready to retire," he said. "I am semi-retired, but I’m going to retire fully, maybe in a year, so we’ll see what happens."
The developer is making a canny move in not even attempting to tear the structure down, given the potential landmark significance and preservation arguments that would ensue. Instead, they'll probably be gutting most of it and keeping the street-fronting facade, incorporating it into plans for a 13,500-square-foot retail space that will extend across into the new building next door perhaps large enough for a grocery store?
As Hoodline points out, the Preserving LGBT Historic Sites in California Facebook page has already nominated Sullivan's for historic status. And, looking back, owner Jim Sullivan lost a brother to AIDS, and this funeral home thus became one of the first, and at one point the only, in the city to accept victims of the growing epidemic.
In total the plans call for 45 dwelling units and 22 underground parking spaces, with the new building facing Market Street rising to five stories, and the building behind rising four stories.