SF State bids more than $11 million on vacant building to move forward with Master Plan

SFSU abandoned building
Photo by Wes Rowe/Xpress archives.

It can be difficult not to notice the heavily-vandalized building located on Font Boulevard and Tapia Drive. Ivy covers the fenced-off building, and its windows have been boarded up for years. Although this former San Francisco School of the Arts has been vacant since 2002, school officials have big plans for the 2 1/2 acre property.

SF State has been interested in gaining ownership of the property for about 10 years.

“It’s been a long process because property values have gone up and down over the years,” said Nancy Hayes, the vice president and CFO of administration and finance. “We’re very positive that SF State will be able to gain access to that property.”

Owning the property would allow the University to move forward with the 2007 Master Plan, which prepares the campus to respond to an increase in student population by 2020. According to the plan, the property would be turned into a Clinical Sciences building. The University would need to raise funds from the state to build the Clinical Sciences building, which would take several years once construction began.

Since the vacant building is no longer considered usable due to vandalism and plumbing issues, the University would tear it down and rebuild. Although the building has not been designed, Hayes said it would house classes and laboratories for nursing or physical therapy students.

The San Francisco Unified School District has owned the property since the 1960s and is currently in negotiations with the California Department of General Services, who hopes to purchase it for the University. According to Monica Hassan, a spokeswoman for CDGS,  if the SFUSD votes to approve selling the property, the next step will be for the State of California Public Works Board to approve the sale at a meeting in May.

If that should be approved, then the sale would proceed.

“The main issue has been valuation and price,” said Vice President of the SFUSD Board of Education Rachel Norton. “In the past, SF State has offered less than we believe the building is worth. Since both of us are public institutions, we have a responsibility to get the taxpayers the best price on both sides of the transaction.”

Money has been set aside by the state since 2006 in order to purchase the property for the University. SF State bid $11.1 million April 2 through the CDGS to buy the property. This is the third offer in five years. That money expires if it is not used by June 30.

“The state won’t let us hold on to the money unless we use it,” said Hayes. “Right now the state is working with the school district to see if they will accept the latest offer. We’re all very anxious and hopeful that this property will be under SF State’s stewardship.”