City may use eminent domain to claim historic hotel for development project

A push to replace a vacant building with furniture famously bolted to its walls on Sixth and Howard streets with housing and stores will be discussed today by The City’s redevelopment agency, which is considering legal efforts to forcibly purchase the property.

The 144-room, 99-year-old Hugo Hotel has been empty since it was gutted 20 years ago by fire, according to a city staff report for today’s meeting. In April, the redevelopment agency offered to buy the property for $3.25 million, but it was turned down by the Oregon-based owners, who sought $7 million, according to the report.

Redevelopment agency Executive Director Fred Blackwell said the hotel blights a key corner of the Sixth Street corridor and should be turned into affordablehousing units with stores at street level.

“The best approach in a case like this, is to have the owner take up their responsibility for properly maintaining their property,” Blackwell said.

But with negotiations between the agency and property owners stalled, Blackwell said he supported eminent domain proceedings. “This is not a tool that we’re using willy-nilly,” he said.

The hotel owner’s real estate appraiser told The Examiner he expects his client and The City to disagree over the value of the building, but not over the value of the land.

“It’s been seismically reinforced and it’s got a roof up there that’s not that old,” appraiser Patrick O’Malley said. “The building is watertight and … those walls are about a foot and a half thick.”

Redevelopment staff has not been inside the Hugo Hotel, according to agency project manager Mike Grisso.

The redevelopment agency has worked with nonprofit Urban Solutions to overhaul the downtown Sixth Street corridor since January 2003, when it had a “super-high concentration of liquor stores and adult uses,” Urban Solutions project manager Tracy Everwine said at a recent Yerba Buena Alliance neighborhood meeting.

“The only interested prospective tenants at that time were people who wanted to sell tobacco, liquor or cheap grocery items,” she said.

Since 2003, 28 new businesses — including restaurants and a laundromat — have been wooed to the corridor, according to Everwine.

jupton@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Mayor London Breed, pictured here at a May news conference, will be fined for unethical behavior by The City’s Ethics Commission. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Commission fines Mayor Breed over $22,000 for ethics violations

The San Francisco Ethics Commission will fine Mayor London Breed a reported… Continue reading

Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, which features a comprehensive water-recycling system, on July 30, 2021. Water recycling in office buildings is seen as a promising sustainability effort, as well as a smart hedge against rising costs and future shortages. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Salesforce Tower is part of a nationwide water recycling trend: Here’s how it works

By Patrick Sisson New York Times When Salesforce Tower in San Francisco… Continue reading

Riders enjoyed a trip on a Powell Street cable car when service returned on Monday. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
San Francisco’s cable cars return after 16-month absence

San Francisco’s cable cars are back, and they’re free for passengers to… Continue reading

Most Read