SF State to replace vacant building with grass lot after property sale is finalized

Vacant building SFSU
A derelict shack sits among the rest of the abandoned buildings on Tapia Drive and Font Blvd, a corner that has become overgrown with foliage, graffiti and trash over the past ten years of its vacancy. Photo by Henry Nguyen.

A new building for students will be added to the University in the distant future.  In the interim, there are plans for a new grass field for student recreation.

After years of negotiations, the San Francisco Unified School District has finally agreed to sell the vacant property on Font Boulevard to SF State.

The University bid approximately $11 million on the site through the California Department of General Services in early April.

The former San Francisco School of the Arts has been vacant since 2002 and SF State has been interested in purchasing the property since it first went on the market. SFUSD rejected two previous offers in the last five years.

“(SFUSD) has a responsibility to the children we serve to get a fair price for the property in order to put those funds back into improving our existing schools,” said Gentle Blythe, a spokeswoman for SFUSD. “Until recently, SF State and SFUSD have been fairly apart in their positions on the value of the property. Recent negotiations and updated property appraisal brought the parties to a common and equitable position.”

According to spokeswoman Monica Hassan, DGS is currently awaiting the written agreement from the district so that the transaction can be finalized.

Until the construction on the clinical sciences building begins, the property will be transformed into a temporary grass field for students to play sports outside.

“Student surveys and feedback have indicated we are sorely in need of a recreation field for intramural activities, outdoor activities and other such uses,” she said. “This would be a field for outdoor activities with appropriate lighting.”

Before the 2 ½ acre property can be owned by SF State, DGS must first present the details of the sale to the State of California Public Works Board in May. If approved, the Sacramento Department of Finance will release the funds for the sale. The earliest that SF State will be able to gain legal access to the property will be July 2012.

“The important point was to acquire the land before the funds expired on June 30 so SF State would have the ability to plan for future construction on that site,” Hayes said. “As soon as we get all permits, we will demolish the existing hazardous building.”

Purchasing the property is one of the goals in the 2007 Master Plan, which prepares the University for increased student enrollment over a period of 20 years.

One of the objectives was to rebuild it as a clinical sciences building. The new building is expected to house classrooms and laboratories for students in specialized programs including nursing and physical therapy.

The demolition of the current building on the property is expected to take place sometime between July and September of this year. Hayes stressed that construction on the new building will likely take place roughly 10 years down the road, after another project.

“Our next academic building in the Master Plan is a replacement for the Creative Arts Building,” Hayes said. “A clinical sciences building would come much later. It is all dependent on getting funding.”