Developer wants penthouses atop armory

The latest proposal for developing the long-abandoned armory at 14th and Mission streets calls for condominiums and penthouses, once again stirring controversy about what the old National Guard building should become.

This is not the first time the 123,000-square-foot armory is at the center of a gentrification battle. Since the National Guard abandoned the armory in 1971 about 10 proposals ranging from a movie studio to a church were offered up for the brick fortress that seems an impenetrable castle taking up the entire block of Mission Street at 14th Street.

In 2000, it became the focus of the Mission’s dot-com gentrification wars, with protesters floodinga Planning Commission meeting and arguing against a new-media office complex.

Now, Mission Armory Preservation Partners LLC aims to build 169 condominiums, including eight controversial penthouses, and roughly 30,000 square feet of office space in the 1914 armory that’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

In order for the latest proposal to pencil out financially, the penthouses must be part of the project, since they will help cover the costs of the restoration and seismic work that’s slated to cost upward of $10 million, said Brett Gladstone, an attorney representing the owner, Alpha LLC.

The penthouses would be set back from the edge of the roof, thereby creating a less obtrusive look, said Andres Grechi, design director for MBH Architects.

“To preserve it we have to give it new life,” Grechi said. “It would bring new life to the neighborhood. It would no longer look like a prison.”

Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board members Alan Martinez and Ina Dearman both questioned whether the penthouses are the right fit for the Mission neighborhood.

“There should be no penthouses,” Dearman said. “We need housing but it’s too expensive.”

The developer needs the approval of the commission since it is tasked with preserving historic structures in The City.

The need for housing in The City and neighborhood revitalization the project would bring would serve the area well, said Tim Colen, of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition.

In the past, the armory has been used for boxing matches, set construction for the San Francisco Opera and during the filming of the 1977 film Star Wars, most of the spaceship-centered scenes were shot in the drill court. In 1986, a plan to turn it into a movie studio was abandoned. Eleven years later, a proposal for live-work lofts was also tossed aside.

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

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, on Monday said “We truly wish we could return to in-person learning for everyone.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD reopening plans still leave out most secondary students

SFUSD announces April return to in-person learning after reaching contract deal with teachers

(Examiner file photo)
Charter amendment effort would replace elected school board with appointed body

Critics of the San Francisco Unified School District board on Monday formally… Continue reading

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

(Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Fully vaccinated? Here are the CDC guidelines for what you can do after receiving a COVID vaccine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued its… Continue reading

Most Read