200 6th Street Design
The proposed Kennerly Architecture & Planning designed nine-story mixed-use building slated to rise at 200 6th Street has been waylaid by the loss of San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency which Mercy Housing had been counting on to finance the demolition and replacement of the existing four-story, and rather storied, Hugo Hotel.
Hugo Hotel in San Francisco (www.SocketSite.com)
As plugged-in people know, the Redevelopment Agency acquired the Hugo Hotel in 2009 for $4,600,000 by way of eminent domain.
Defending The Design For 200 6th Street And Adieu To Defenestration [SocketSite]
Sixth Street landmark ready to hang around a bit longer [Examiner]
And Now Back To The Hugo Hotel (And Eminent Domain On Sixth) [SocketSite]
Hugo Hotel’s Flying Furniture Update, No Word On The Graffiti [SocketSite]
The Hugo Hotel Has A Date With A Different Kind Of Bench [SocketSite]
Eminent Domain Suit Semi-Successfully Snatches Hugo Hotel [SocketSite]

39 thoughts on “Hugo Hotel Hangs On As Redevelopment Agency Is Dropped”
  1. I kept thinking some of that furniture might drop or perhaps the other shoe, but instead it was the agency that was about to finally clean up this mess that dropped. San Francisco is weird.

  2. The artwork is great… Glad to see it will be around a little longer… I wonder what will happen with the building now?

  3. Can’t wait to see that piece of crap building with junk furniture hanging out the window demolished.
    The new building by Kennerly will be a great improvement to the neighborhood, and, miracle of miracles actually:
    Provide housing and other functional uses to humans.

  4. So, if the general purpose for which they invoked eminent domain is gone… does that mean they give it back to the rightful owner who didn’t want to sell?

  5. They should sell it to a developer for a profit.
    I can’t wait for that POS to drop. My office is within 100 yards of the building and trust me when I say it does not help the ‘rehabilitation’ of 6th street in any way, shape or form.

  6. Well, I guess both bossmillion and myself are sensitive. that’s a good thing to be, when we see junk buildings remain in our city like this one, continuing to hold back the progress and betterment of our city.
    Yes, I’m sensitive. But then again, I am an architect.

  7. Well, I’ve been commenting here as an architect for over 3 years..And I do like the work of Kennerly Architects.
    Check out their building at 14th/Guerrero. Very cool corner insertion of contemporary design.

  8. I kept thinking some of that furniture might drop or perhaps the other shoe, but instead it was the agency that was about to finally clean up this mess that dropped. San Francisco is weird.

    Nothing at all to do with S. F. being weird and everything to do with taxes being almost impossible to raise at the State level due to Prop. 13. Since revenue dropped off a cliff when the recession started, the Governor decided to raid the local redevelopment agencies and this project was one of many that got forced into limbo as a result.
    From The Chronicle last year, Redevelopment plans threatened by CA budget cuts:

    Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones baffled city and county officials who have relied on the two programs for decades to spur economic growth and development in depressed areas.

    Critics said the move will exacerbate the state’s flailing economy…and take important tools away from local governments looking to eliminate blight…in under served communities. They also expressed confusion about which projects will be impacted…San Francisco redevelopment director Fred Blackwell said a number of planned projects in that city, including…redevelopment of the Hugo Hotel at Sixth and Howard streets, are now in jeopardy. Blackwell called the situation “dire.”

    Emphasis added to make the quote relevant to this thread. This wasn’t a local decision except to the extent that once Sacramento took the redevelopment money away, it became highly unlikely that Mercy Housing would be able to begin the project.
    And to all the property-rights absolutists such as Mark who decry the use of eminent domain; don’t you think the previous owner had adequate time to do something constructive with the building? If it weren’t for the art installation, it’d be no different from any other blighted wart on the block. This was far from an abuse of eminent domain, and I’m sorry that Mercy Housing won’t be able to proceed with their project, even if I disagree strongly with their choice of architect and that architect’s aesthetic predilections.

  9. I’m beginning to wonder about all the armchair architectural critics here:
    Are there ANY designs that anyone likes? Are there ANY architects anyone likes?

  10. @Brahma: the city planning authorities (including many Mayors and Supervisors) had ample opportunity to rezone this parcel to a sensible density but they all refused – with sensible zoning the property would have been redeveloped under private ownership years ago. Funny how, once the property had been taken, the zoning was miraculously lifted to accomodate the Mercy proposal. Socialist property rights at their finest. That’s the real story of the Redevelopment gravy-train right there, not some cry-baby lament like yours above.

  11. uh, Mark, fyi – the old hotel was closed for public health violations after a fire in 1988. the owners let the building continue to rot and blight the neighborhood in anticipation that someone else would some day invest in the neighborhood and increase their property value. although we should obviously be vigilant against government abuse of eminent domain, this is in fact the poster child for where it is merited.

  12. Now that the Redevelopment Agency is gone, I wonder where Homeless, Inc. will go to next to suck from the public teat?

  13. From the Examiner article (linked-to above, ‘graph nine) of April 20th:

    Jim Meko, a South of Market community activist and chairman of the SoMa Leadership Council, said the neighborhood sorely needs affordable housing, but he wasn’t too impressed with the new apartment building plans anyway.

    “Maybe they’ll come to their senses and come up with a better project,” Meko said…Meko said until something better can replace the building, it will remain a notable local fixture.

    It isn’t just armchair architectural critics on socketsite that think the project’s sponsors could have done better.
    And before someone says, No, Brahma doesn’t have any connection to the SOMA Leadership Council. And no, Brahma doesn’t think that absent redevelopment funds, adequate funding is going to appear to fund a project more in line with his own aesthetic tastes.

  14. Futurist, were talking about this project, not the one on Guerrero /14th.
    In the words of Jay Sherman- It Stinks!

  15. Brahma & sf: Get the story straight.
    Jim Meko & SOMA Leadership Council reviewed and commented on early concept drawings (like above) for this project LAST JUNE (that’s old news). His critique targetted the lack of a public art programming in the development plans – which have probably evolved since.
    So don’t believe everything you read in the Examiner. And stop the needless flaming.

  16. Other than the scale of it in relation to it’s neighbors I think it is a pretty nice design. You can’t blame the developer when they take every inch of height allowed for the particular zoning o a parcel.

  17. Thanks soma girl: I was about to say the same thing.
    Let’s be clear about “exactly” what Jim Meko was referring to, with regards to the subject property. I read the article too, and he was not referring to the architectural design.
    I would suggest others be a little more clear with their observations.
    Yes, we all know the rendering above is a “conceptual” design. It will evolve, and change and grow into a workable solution for that corner. However, I still support the design by Kennerly Architects. Their (built) project at 14th/Guerrero is an excellent example of fresh, innovative urban infill design. They use a variety of materials to give articulation and variation to the facade, at the same time expressing different functions within the structure.
    The above project represents a similar philosophy and it will be a strong addition to replace the decrepit hotel.

  18. soma girl and futurist, point taken.
    However, let’s also be clear about the fact that the project sponsor doesn’t have the financing to proceed with the project, that’s the point of the above post. So barring some unforeseen materialization of money, there isn’t going to be any “evolution of the conceptual design” that Kennerly Architects has produced.
    If some angel donor appears in the near future that enables Mercy Housing to complete the project, I hope that person has the presence of mind to stipulate as a condition of their gift of funds that a new architect be chosen and a new design developed.

  19. This particular project sponsor does not have the money, at the present time.
    Perhaps they will in future. Perhaps another sponsor will.
    In fact, given that it’s only a matter of time before the old building is demolished and a new one built. The land, the location are valuable.
    And I still would like to see the Kennerly design complete. They are a well accomplished firm, capable of designing quality, infill urban projects.

  20. hey guys,
    I live in the building across on Howard, my windows facing dead center with that ever so annoying strobe light inside the TV on the roof; guess what? NOT a pretty site – anything would be better than what it is right now. One block away you have an “uber” expensive hotel and conference building next to it, and this way drunken and drugged rolling on the pavement, with crazies added to the mix, while the “youth” is roaming around looking “gangsta”- a bit too much of a contrast between the poor and the rich – does one block make that much of a difference?
    Good luck with the re-development and gentrification – as soon as I can, I will be getting the heck out of there…

  21. Bums are a protected class in SF. The City wants to keep them in their original environment to preserve the biodiversity that makes downtown so “vibrant”. Sorry you had to realize that at your expense.
    In the mean time the people who suffer from these sometimes aggressive bums still have to pay taxes to sustain them, but either suck it up or move to Noe.
    I have to walk through the TL and rough parts of SOMA 2-3 times a week. On a typical stroll I am harassed once per block on average. There’s always one or 2 guys who get a bit more pushy and will follow you the whole block. I never give one penny.
    Why do I walk there will you ask? So that wifey can come home safely from her job… The other option is driving. Is this what I will end up doing? Use a car because the City doesn’t have the guts to secure the TL and 6th street?

  22. lol, please post a link to the city policy you’re describing. I’m not aware of any city policy that seeks to keep aggressive panhandlers on the streets. As far as I know, no one likes it, least of which because it hurts tourism, but there are very few other solutions on offer.
    If your comment was just hyperbole, try to understand that the reason unemployed homeless people (“bums”) are so visible is because the eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents us from turning them into Soylent Green. Since we can’t do that, we’re stuck with them.
    Every San Francisco mayor since Feinstein has attempted to crack down on aggressive pan handling. U.S. Constitution again.
    You complain about paying “taxes to sustain them”, but of course few in San Francisco want to pay the substantially higher taxes that would be required to incarcerate the criminal ones (and a side effect of Proposition 36 is that you have to be a multiple offender before you can be locked up) and/or institutionalize the mentally ill ones (if we somehow repealed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act).
    I’m sorry you or your wife get harassed when walking through the ‘loin. When you get reach the end of your patience and decide to circulate a petition to force the board of supervisors to implement Laura’s Law, please post here. I’ll be one of the first people to sign it. It’ll only be a first step, but a worthwhile one.

  23. Care for Cash for one thing. It amounts to having a big “Homeless housing here” sign with a big arrow hovering over the city. Can’t afford housing anywhere with your welfare check? SF can help you by living smack in convenient downtown.
    Sure the homeless payments are preempted by the city, but what’s left is not enough to eat, hence a homeless population that actually sleeps inside but needs to recycle cans or panhandle.
    I have little hope for any political courage from the City. Crazies keep killing the innocent (with guns, knives, even boomboxes…) and nothing is done. People complain, but the homeless lobby and the myriad inefficient self-serving not-for-(citizen’s)-profits are too strong.
    About Laura’s Law, my wife will be happy to know I will be heard only after something happens (god forbid). Good advice! I’ll keep it in mind! [/end tongue in cheek]

  24. I don’t understand why the city can’t auction this property off to the highest bidder. Set the zoning so that developers make a profit, and we can have a nice building there in no time.
    I also don’t understand why the city thinks it needs to provide housing to those who can’t afford to live here. Some cities are expensive, and not everyone can afford to live in them. Oakland isn’t that far away.

  25. “…Set the zoning so that developers make a profit…”
    Didn’t the owners of this building (the Patels?) try to get the parcel rezoned for a taller building already?

  26. The existing building was zoned for a 50-foot height limit. Of course the Patel family wanted so much money for the building, even after the fire gutted it, that no sane developer could pay anywhere near the amount they (yes, the Patels) and make a development project pencil out at that height.
    Robert: how, pray tell, is the city supposed to set zoning for a particular building so that a particular owner can make an ever-increasing-demanded amount of profit? And even if The City could do that, would that be good public policy?
    The irony is that by holding out, they actually got what they wanted because it wound up being covered by the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which raised the height limit to 85 feet, increasing the value of the property.
    This property is a case study in where and when eminent domain seizure should take place, I wish it would have completed years sooner so as to deprive the Patel family of their ill-gotten windfall, which essentially rewarded them for being willing to leave the building in it’s fire-gutted state.

  27. I wish it would have completed years sooner so as to deprive the Patel family of their ill-gotten windfall, which essentially rewarded them for being willing to leave the building in it’s fire-gutted state.
    True they probably profit in the process, either knowingly or not. But they did not do anything illegal, did they? Good for them them own a valuable piece of land with the building allowance as it stands. Too bad they couldn’t come up with a plan of their own.
    Not everyone can pull a deal like the win/win/win of Trinity Plaza. Win for the tenants, the landlord, the City. Sometimes this is the City that knows how.

  28. Robert: how, pray tell, is the city supposed to set zoning for a particular building so that a particular owner can make an ever-increasing-demanded amount of profit? And even if The City could do that, would that be good public policy?
    The city owns the the building now. First, it rezones. Then, it puts it up for auction. I don’t see how developers would profit unfairly.
    And this is another great example of a landlord refusing to sell at the market clearing price. We need more of these eminent domain seizures, followed by a re-sales into a competitive auction.

  29. Okay. If you’re assuming the situation now, where the building has already been seized by eminent domain, I completely agree that an auction would be the best way to produce a positive outcome for all involved. I was thinking of the previous situation where the owner was holding out for an unreasonable amount of money.
    I also agree that, especially in this post redevelopment agency elimination environment we have, eminent domain seizures are going to have to be a more widely applied tool, even if it drives right wing property rights absolutists crazy.

  30. How about center left reasonable property rights proponents who would like for this City to work better for the benefit of most of its citizen?
    SF votes 80% democrat, or something close to that. There are many owners and landlords in that bunch, trying to get their rights protected. If the left is hi-jacked by self-serving extremists with an agenda then expect moderates to be a bit vocal.
    Decrying people who do not fit a view as extremist is in itself an extremism. Just saying.

  31. As far as “owners and landlord” rights, recall that in this specific situation, the South of Market Business Association was on the side of The City, urging the building be seized, because the Patels were being unreasonable.
    And they could have sold it or fixed it themselves, I don’t recall them saying at any point in time that they weren’t insured or that their policy covering the building somehow wouldn’t pay to repair the damage of the fire. If they were uninsured, that just means they didn’t know how to run a business with real estate as the primary asset.
    They just decided that it would be more profitable to let the building fester for the better part of twenty years while they held out for ever increasing amounts of money.

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