Third Baptist Church opposes plans for more housing at historically protected building

An attempt to convert 10 ground-level garage spaces in an apartment building in the Alamo Square Landmark District into homes is facing opposition from the neighboring Third Baptist Church.

In an effort to address housing demands, The City enacted a program in 2014 that created more flexibility around constructing accessory dwelling units, also sometimes referred to as in-law or granny units, in spaces such as garages.

The San Francisco Planning Department recommended approval for the conversion of the garage spaces at 1100 Fulton St. into six accessory dwelling units, or units added to existing residential buildings, after the project passed at the HIstoric Preservation Commission last month.

But a request for a discretionary review hearing filed by the Third Baptist Church at 1399 McAllister St. last month could thwart the developer’s plans and vision for a new use of the apartment building’s ground floor.

In documents filed with the Planning Department, the church cites the building’s historic value. Designed by prominent local architect Edward E. Young and built in 1924, it is “contributory to the Alamo Square Landmark District” and a Class A historic resource— as well as the aesthetic impacts that the proposed renovations would have “on the profile of the neighborhood,” the church states.

“[The project] violates the historical integrity of the neighborhood,” said Third Baptist’s Rev. Amos Brown. “You have the Alamo Square historic district, and the Third Baptist Church is a designated historic landmark. That ground level was not thought for apartments, it was thought for parking.”

Also of concern to the church is the “influence” on rent control that the property owner and developer could have on the new units, as well as a loss of parking spaces for church members, as described in planning documents:

“This change would adversely affect traffic and parking. It would affect the congregation of Third Baptist Church whenever there is a service being held in the sanctuary.”

The project proposes to modify ground level garage door openings at the building’s Fulton Street and Pierce Street facades, including the removal of garage doors and a “limited amount of historic brick.”

New wood windows and paneled entry doors would be installed in place of the garage openings, with “new brick infill matching the historic brick at the ground level,” according to planning documents.

Serina Calhoun, founder of Syncopated Architecture, the firm leading the project, said that the ADUs would be constructed in phases, as several of the garage spaces are currently occupied.

“We only have access to three of the garages for phase one. They are currently not utilized,” said Calhoun. “We are building three accessory dwelling units in exchange for those spaces, which is a common process. In the future we will convert the rest.”

Calhoun said that the ADUs will be rented out at market-rate, but will then be subject to rent control.

She added that the church’s opposition is “a mystery” to her.

“We are not impacting the church and not touching their building or parking area,” she said, adding that the church is located on the opposing side of the street. “Maybe because we are adding more people to the building, that there will be less parking for church goers — but we are reinstating the curb cuts.”

A date for the discretionary review hearing before the Planning Commission has not been set, according to a spokesperson for the Planning Department.

The owners of 1100 Fulton St. are hoping to replace the building’s garage spaces with additional housing units. (Courtesy Planning Department)

Laura Waxmann
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Laura Waxmann

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