Historic cottage could dent India Basin development

A ramshackle cottage that housed boat-builders and boat-building for more than 60 years could be protected from development under city legislation due to be considered today — several weeks after a nonprofit announced its plans to build an affordable-housing project at the waterfront site.

A developer in December donated the boarded-up, 130-year-old cottage near India Basin Shoreline Park in the Hunters Point neighborhood to the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.

The clinicplans to build 208 affordable-housing units on the lot and Bayview families will be given priority when the units are sold, executive director Randy Shaw said. He said construction could begin in late 2009.

But if the cottage is preserved, 12 units from the project would need to be culled to build around the cottage, which sits on the corner of the lot, adding $2 million in additional costs to the project, Shaw said. He suggested moving the cottage and turning it into a museum.

More than 550 people have signed a petition urging The City to designate the building a landmark — a move supported by dozens of groups, India Basin Neighborhood Association chairwoman Kristine Enea said. A landmark designation could limit development on the site.

“A lot of the people that are supporting it are the unions and the boat-builders and the boating community,” Enea said.

The four-room timber building is characteristic of shipbuilders’ cottages that lined Innes Street in the late 19th century and into the 20th century, according to city documents. It’s the last such cottage left standing, the documents show.

Craftsmen known as shipwrights worked and lived in the cottages and made scow schooners — wind-powered transport boats that helped shape the region’s economy before trucks became common, the documents show.

The Planning Commission’s Landmark Advisory Board in May 2005 agreed to designate the cottage as a San Francisco landmark. But the commission has failed since then to vote on the proposal, leading Supervisor Sophie Maxwell — whose district includes the property — to introduce the legislation to protect the cottage to the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee is scheduled to consider the proposal this afternoon.

jupton@examiner.com

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