January 2014

Historic Convalescent Home May Become Condominiums

Keith Burbank

The three-story building at 331 Pennsylvania Avenue, now known as Mission Bay Convalescent Hospital, will no longer provide long-term health care services as of February 24, 2014, according to the California Department of Public Health (DPH). The hospital notified the health department of its plan to shutter the 42-bed facility last fall. According to DPH, the hospital is closing because the license holder and property owner, Dr. William Price Jr., is retiring from healthcare.  

Future use of the building isn’t yet known. “Probably condos,” said Rick Durrazo, owner of North Beach Properties, which is handling the sale of the hospital. Durrazo said he has a buyer, with the closing likely to occur shortly after the New Year. He said that the site is a historic resource, with the City requiring that the building’s frame be preserved along with a good percentage of the structure.

According to a historic survey available on the San Francisco Planning Department’s website, the building is a historic resource, and was built by the Bethlehem Steel Company in 1916. As a historic resource, any proposed changes to the building “may require some level of environmental review,” the department’s website says, which will determine if the proposed alterations will cause a “substantial adverse” impact to the structure’s historic significance.

Hospital administrator May Wong declined to speak with the View, saying that the hospital was very busy and she didn’t want the publicity. However, it appears that the transition is going smoothly. “The Department has been monitoring the facility closely during the closure process and the implementation of their relocation plan with no complaints received,” said Corey Egel, of DPH’s Office of Public Affairs. “As of December 2, 2013, the facility’s current census is nine residents.” 

The property was serving 35 residents at the time it submitted its relocation plan, which DPH approved.  “The facility has also notified [the] Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the local ombudsman program regarding the closure,” Egel said. 

Over the years the building has had a number of identities, including Villa Don Ra Dae Convalescent Home, Potrero Hill Convalescent, Price Convalescent, and Union Iron Works Hospital.  According to a survey of it by Christopher VerPlanck, a local historic preservation consultant, it “appears eligible for listing in the California Register” under two criteria. “The building is significant under Criterion 1 due to its association with nearby Union Iron Works, a National register-eligible shipyard facility at Pier 70…The building is also significant under Criterion 3 for its architecture…It is a well-preserved and early surviving example of a concrete hospital building designed by a prominent local architect.” 

The building was designed by Frederick H. Meyer, who “…was responsible for many of the public, commercial and industrial buildings designed in the San Francisco area after the 1906 earthquake and fire,” according to the environmental design archives at the University of California, Berkeley.

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