After a deal to purchase a tourist hotel in Japantown was met with loud pushback from the the community, the SF Board of Supervisors is now looking to buy the former Gotham Hotel, lately known as Vantaggio Suites, at 835 Turk Street.
The largely unoccupied SRO currently has 42 tenants, as the Chronicle reports, and if a purchase goes through, none of those people would be displaced. But the remaining 72 units could then be converted into transitional housing for the recently homeless — part of a broader goal to establish more such city-owned housing around the city.
Back in August, the supervisors announced the intent to purchase four buildings for this purpose, including the now defunct Japantown plan to buy the 131-unit Kimpton Buchanan Hotel. (The deal fell through when the owners decided the hotel could still be commercially viable.)
If the deal goes through to buy the Turk Street property, it will mean the city will have 1,200 units of supportive housing in the pipeline — close to the 1,500 that Mayor London Breed set as a two-year goal a year and a half ago.
The supervisors in October approved the purchase of The Panoramic in SoMa, a 160-unit, recently constructed building that had originally been built as micro-unit housing for students.
Supervisor Dean Preston, who has long advocated for the homeless and for affordable housing, tried to strike a balance in the face of community opposition to the Japantown hotel conversion. As he said in a September statement, "All districts and parts of the city should be part of the solution to providing affordable housing for formerly homeless folks. But when you get concerns raised by the community, it’s also incumbent to make space for folks to weigh in before making a final decision."
The SRO on Turk Street is also in Preston's district, just north of Hayes Valley, at the foot of Cathedral Hill, at the eastern edge of the Fillmore District.
Neighbors were notified of the intent to purchase the building on November 22, and there will be a community meeting about it next week, on December 15. Final approval for the purchase — the price has not yet been disclosed — could come as soon as February.
"There will always be some voices in opposition to anything like this, we will hear those voices if they’re there and listen to them, but I have not heard any real concerns to date about this spot," Preston said to the Chronicle this week.
Neighborhood resident Sebastian Luke wrote in support of the project, per the Chronicle. But Luke stresses that the city has to find a solution for homeless people who refuse services and continue occupying tent encampments on sidewalks and in alleys.
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