Project triggers preservationism

Proposed homeless housing at Folsom and 10th site of structures built in ’20s, ’30s

Three South of Market buildings dating as far back as 1922 may be demolished to make way for a five-story building serving the homeless amid concerns about the structures’ historical value.

The nonprofit Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco aims to build 134 single-room apartments at the corner of 10th and Folsom streets complete with services ranging from medical care to job training programs.

The $31 million building is scheduled for completion in late 2008 with construction scheduled to begin next year if The City grants the necessary approvals. A combination of state and city funds plus tax credits is earmarked to pay for the 10th Street Supportive Housing Project.

Plans call for demolishing three contiguous structures, including two warehouses, at 275 10th St., 62-72 Dore St. and 1350 Folsom St.

The proposal is consistent with Mayor Gavin Newsom’s 10-year plan toend homelessness, which calls for the creation of 3,000 housing units for the chronically homeless, Teresa Yanga of the Mayor’s Office of Housing said.

“We believe that the development of safe, high-quality, affordable housing with the social services that help people stabilize to remain housed is the key to solving homelessness in our city,” said Ken Reggio, executive director of Episcopal Community Services.

Reggio on Wednesday addressed the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board, which is responsible for providing comments to the Planning Commission.

Landmarks board members Robert Cherny and Alan Martinez voiced concerns about demolishing the historic buildings, two of which date from 1922 and one from 1931.

The three buildings are considered historical resources under state guidelines and could be included in a yet-to-be-created SoMa historic district. The Planning Department is conducting a survey, expected to take 16 months, to see whether the area deserves that designation. If it does, the historic district could be listed on the California Register of Historic Resources, according to the environmental impact report for the project.

That status could give buildings added protection from demolition, though it is too far in the future to play a role in the current debate.

“How did the Mayor’s Office get this far about demolishing three historic buildings?” Martinez said. “We have to look at alternatives first.”

One alternative calls for tearing down two of the buildings and retaining the façade of the 10th Street building. Under the plan, the supportive housing project would be set back 26 feet from 10th Street.

On Oct. 12, the Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the inch-thick environmental review of the project — the first step in the approval process. The commission must approve the environmental review before the project could begin.

mcarroll@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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