600 20th Street Site

Plans to raze the two-story Dogpatch building on the northwest corner of 20th and Illinois Streets, which is currently home to Jim’s Smoke Shop and Deli, Specstones Studio and a few others, are now in the works.

As envisioned by Workshop1, a new six-story building would rise across the 600 20th Street site, with 24 condos averaging around 800 square feet apiece, a 4,000 square foot ground floor retail space, and a basement garage for 18 stacked cars.

And in terms of timing, while Jim’s is currently on a month to month lease, the second floor of the building, which is known as 888 Illinois Street, is master leased until 2022 and subleased to a few commercial tenants (Steelys Drinkware, Eco Imprints, and the Wishbone Creative Group). But that’s not to say the master lease, which is “well below market,” couldn’t be broken or bought out.

Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by two beers

    More workspace lost. Wasn’t the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan supposed to slow down the pace of turning every last commercial bldg into condo boxes with a Starbucks on the ground floor?

    • Posted by Bobby Mucho

      I understand the idea that PDR like spaces are becoming harder and harder to find in SF, but I think it’s pretty clear that this property (in its current form) crucially underserving the neighborhood. I can only imagine the loss of a massively underpriced office/warehouse/work space here will be mitigated by the 10s (if not 100s) of thousands of new square feet of PDR and office space just across the street, east of here, at Pier 70.

  2. Posted by Bart Samsung

    “888” well now you know who’ll be buying these units….

    • Posted by alberto rossi

      “Double Heil” white supremacists?

  3. Posted by John Borg

    Interesting piece — and news to me. As the individual who holds the master lease on this building, and who has lived and worked here since 1993, it is hurtful to read (and flippant for the writer to suggest) that my long-term lease could be “broken or bought out”. There is much more to the story.

    I have lived and worked in this space for over 23 years. I plan to stay through the remainder of my lease. I have not only occupied this space since the start of the first Clinton Administration, but I have been very involved in this community during that time. I am not surprised that there would be plans to eventually develop this space for a more lucrative use, but I was assured by the new owners — who recently purchased the building, knowing full well the terms of my lease — that they would honor the lease and “not mess” with me.

    I originally leased from a family that owned the building for over 100 years — an old school, honorable group of individuals with whom I developed a trusting and close relationship over the years. After some elders in the family passed away, the family dynamic changed and the building was put on the market for the first time ever, and sold earlier this year.

    I run several businesses here (Steelys, Wishbone Creative, Eco Imprints) and sub-lease part of downstairs to Specstone. My lease covers the entire building except Jim’s Smokeshop. The below market rate lease did not just fall in my lap. I worked for it, and worked hard with others to help Dogpatch transition into the neighborhood that it is today.

    My work has, in fact, benefited many developers and attracted new people to the neighborhood. I supported more dense new housing and higher uses, which many of my neighbors opposed. I was principal author the Central Waterfront Land Use Recommendation Report, a community-based document that I wrote and published and paid for in the late 1990s. This report largely influenced the rezoning and redevelopment of this area. The report was drafted in collaboration with the entire community, after more than a year of public meetings, and with input from key stakeholders.

    I represented the voice of the community, and took that role seriously. With a handful of others, I helped co-found the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, helped establish Dogpatch as a historic district, served on several community advisory boards appointed by the Port of San Francisco and by the Board of Supervisors. I have written extensively on local issues, have been an activist for various critical community concerns, and have supported a balance of reasonable development as well as preservation of important historic resources and land uses that will benefit the future of this City and maintain the soul of this place.

    The small businesses that currently occupy this building may not be big names, but they employ local people, pay taxes, support other business, and contribute to the fabric of San Francisco.

    This neighborhood was sketchy and the building was largely vacant when I moved in. I cleaned the building up and worked with others to help clean up the entire neighborhood. My lease was negotiated in good faith, was renewed just a few years ago, and the family that owned this place at the time appreciated what I’ve done for the building and for the community — and they rewarded me for that.

    When I moved here 23 years ago this neighborhood was a much different place. I am proud of the small role some of us played in shaping what it is today. It is true that long-term tenants in San Francisco and other urban centers often enjoy below market rents. It is also true that long-term tenants are often bullied and displaced by unsavory investors and developers, and there are certainly a lot of questionable shenanigans being undertaken by powerful interests in this city at present. I hope that won’t happen to me, and I will certainly fight hard to protect all my rights.

    Just because a group bought a building with an existing lease in place, does not mean that the lease can be bought out or broken without the willingness and agreement by both parties. I have a passion for this space and this community. And I certainly don’t plan to be prematurely kicked to the curb.

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      Thanks for all your great work, John. I hope that you are able to stay as long as you want.

      • Posted by John Borg

        thank you. a lot of us long-term residents have worked hard to shape this area as it evolves to new uses.

    • Posted by pablito

      One of the best comments I have read on here in a long time.

      • Posted by John Borg

        There is often more to a simple story like this, and it can sometimes be forgotten that people, families and businesses who make plans based on clear terms can be impacted when new parties with other agendas get involved.

        I will give the new owners the benefit of the doubt, and look forward to their response to me about this story. But someone fed this story and development plans to Sockesite. And it was troubling for me to read it here, rather than hear about it in advance from the new owners. They assured me they would honor the full term of my lease, but the tone of this piece, and the crazy state of the SF real estate market, certainly makes that questionable.

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      Well, the lease certainly can be broken without the willingness of the other party.
      Of course, the party who did not breach would then be entitled to damages. The price the new owners paid presumably factored all this in.

  4. Posted by Wayne de Geere III

    Hi John, glad to hear you’re still around, we are, too.

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