[Ref: Resolution Number R-16072801 Historical designation of property 2513-2515 Union St., San Diego, CA 92101 / Assessor Parcel Number 533-072-18-00 Historical Resources Board Number 1225]
It is my belief that the project and the staircase were reviewed by Historic Resources Board (HRB) staff and not presented or reviewed by the Design Assistance Subcommittee (DAS). (Note that the staff who reviewed this project has left city employment for work elsewhere.)
I am quite surprised that this addition was permitted without DAS review. The photo attached should clearly indicate my concern. The staircase is a three-story addition that architecturally is quite imposing on the historic residence. I believe that the exiting requirements for a multifamily renovation in the existing historic structure could have been handled much more gracefully.
This residence is a legacy for San Diego’s first AIDS hospice and is named for Dr. Brad Truax, who was a significant figure in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community and an important activist for AIDS treatment and care. Somehow I fear the final result will not be what the community expected and was promised during the controversy over the sale of this city-owned property to a private developer.
I don’t know what the HRB and the DAS can do at this time, but I raise a flag that I hope this sequence of review does not repeat itself for another important historic site. I feel that the LGBTQ+ community has been given short shrift.
—Charles Kaminski, via email.
The Truax residence is a legacy for San Diego’s first AIDS hospice and is named for Dr. Brad Truax, who was a significant figure in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community and an important activist for AIDS treatment and care. Located at the corner of Union Street and Laurel Street, in Bankers Hill, San Diego, Calif. 92101.
Who will help to get the city of San Diego and the developers, in this case, NDD aka Nakhshab Development & Design Inc. (Soheil & Nima Nakhshab) to keep the promises made with the sale of public land?
The parcel that the Truax house is on was set aside for a road that was never built. It was purchased by the city with gas tax money. So the money had to go back into that fund. Was it? What is it going to be used for? It was designated for park land.
The city decided to sell it to a private developers (NDD) who wanted it converted into three parcels, with the Truax house on a tiny parcel not large enough for any parking. This was approved by the San Diego Planning Commission after Soheil stood in front of them and said that he was going to keep the two houses and did not have plans to do anything to them. Although I am sure that they all knew this was not true, they approved the division and sale.
The land was sold to developers (NDD) after it was divided. NDD made promises along with the city of San Diego to the San Diego community, in particular to the residents of Bankers Hill and the gay community, to renovate the historic Truax house; to have the ground floor as a “community center”; there was to be a “communal courtyard and garden area” and a pathway to Maple Street Canyon for hikers; along with the cottage on the property (540 W. Laurel) to become affordable housing.
The city contract stated that if it were not for the promises of the community center, community garden and courtyard, the memorialization of Brad Truax, and the promise to speak to neighbors of the Truax house for a Maple Street Canyon access walkway, it would not have been sold. Well, it was sold — who is supposed to be watch-dogging NDD to keep its promises? Seems that no one in the city is and the developers do as they please, which is to forget about all the promises made to the community, the public community, not just whoever will live there renting or buying units.
There are now four townhouses being built. NDD wants permission to turn them into condos. This was done to prevent community input required when condos are built and permits required.
The Truax house was gutted, excavation done and according to NDD website is going to be nine studio apartments and one penthouse with an “interactive recreation room.” What is that? It does not sound like a ground floor community center to me.
The house was declared historic for the exterior. Windows and doors have been changed; there is an eye sore of an enclosed staircase three stories high, which is not finished yet and is higher than the roof line and not in keeping with the style of the house whatsoever. The city “staff” that approved this (Jodie Brown) is now in another job in another state. Does she have her tail between her legs in shame or did she even look at the plans before she approved this addition? This is an example of San Diego, Calif. historic preservation?
The eye sore of the huge stairwell can be seen from Interstate-5!
The four townhomes will completely hide the Truax house from public view from Laurel Street and are being called “Leon at Laurel.” Who is Leon? Where is the memorialization of Brad Truax? Where is the community center? Where is the community garden and courtyard? Where is the parking? How do the nine studios and penthouse memorialize Brad Truax?
—Linda Aurora Espino, via email.
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