Noe Valley Voice February 2011

Gold Condos Coming to Blue Church Site

By Heather World 

The six-unit condominium complex that will rise this spring at the corner of Church and 28th streets has a modern architectural style, featuring a winged roof.     Rendering courtesy Kotas/Pantaleoni Architects

Condominium construction on the site of the former “Blue Church” in upper Noe Valley is scheduled to begin in February, now that financing has been secured, according to developer James Branch.

What will it look like? Not a drop of blue, as anyone knows who has seen the large billboard erected at the corner of Church and 28th streets since November.

The building will look exactly like its picture, Branch said. The weedy lot at 1596 Church Street will be replaced by a four-story, six-unit complex with tall bay windows, recessed segments, and a glass-fronted commercial space on the ground floor. The dominant colors will be gold and gray.

Three two-bedroom, two-bath flats and three three-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhouses will share a courtyard, and each unit will have its own parking space. Both the garage and the entrance to the living space will be on 28th Street.

The contractor has estimated nine to 11 months of work, said Tony Pantaleoni of Kotas/Pantaleoni Architects, which also designed Eye Q Optometry on 24th Street.

“Whenever you get these timetables from people, they’re fairly optimistic,” he said.

Pantaleoni estimated excavation and foundation work would last up to two months.

 “Then after that you’ll start to see the wood framing and the roof will go on,” he said.

The royal-blue icon that occupied the lot for nearly a century was demolished more than a year ago. The building originally opened as a movie theater in 1916 and was converted to a church in 1965. In 2006, its longtime congregation agreed to swap ownership and tenancy for 40 percent of any profits from condo sales made by Branch’s development company. Yet the church’s leader, Joesiah Bell, did not leave until ordered to do so by a San Francisco Superior Court judge in 2009.

Worn by time and neglect, the building had long been considered an eyesore, said Vicki Rosen, president of Upper Noe Neighbors. She knew of no one in the neighborhood who was sorry to see it go.

Neighbors at a recent UNN meeting were not enthusiastic about the design of the new condominium complex—too big, no character—but none were outraged.

Allan Turner, who lives across 28th Street from the lot, said he actually would prefer the vacant lot to yet another modern multi-unit building in the area.

“If I had my druthers, it would be open space,” he said.

Instead, Branch can expect to get between $800,000 and $850,000 for each of the flats and between $1,050,000 and $1,250,000 for the townhouses, said the Droubi Team of BJ and Lamisse Droubi, 24th Street real estate experts.

“A lot depends on finishes,” said BJ Droubi.

Kotas/Pantaleoni, Droubi said, creates iconic recognizable projects that are very colorful, for example the unusual houses on the 100 block of Laidley Street in Glen Park.

Branch estimated the commercial space in the building would sell for somewhere between $400 and $550 a square foot.

Sales will help offset an estimated $6.2 million in development costs.