Your Bernal Heights Residential Real Estate Report: Wintercooled 2017 Edition

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Michael Minson and Danielle Lazier are longtime Bernal neighbors who work by day as local realtors. In light of their expertise, Bernalwood invited Neighbor Michael and Neighbor Danielle to update us on the state of residential real estate in Bernal Heights. Here’s their analysis:

Bernal Heights Today
Despite another record-breaking year, the Bernal Heights Real Estate market has officially cooled.

In 2016 we saw a modest 5% increase over the previous year’s median home sale price — from $1.3M in 2015 to $1.36M in 2016.  In any other market that would be remnarkable, but this is Bernal, and we’re not like any other market. In fact, this is the third consecutive year we’ve seen slowing growth since 2012, when we experienced a record 23% gain over the previous year.

In context, prices here have nearly doubled since 2011, when the median price to buy a house in Bernal was $699k, believe it or not.

On the high end, Bernal added a new member to the $3M Club in February. 1669 Alabama St sold for $3 million, and it’s the third property in Bernal to sell for $3M or more in the last few years. There were 11 sales in the $2Ms last year, which is slightly more than double 2015, which reported 5 sales.

The Outlook
Barring a major environmental or economic event, our outlook for 2017 is cautiously optimistic.

Demand in Bernal remains strong for all the reasons we love it here:  great weather, ample charm, wonderful views, and a convenient location. Meanwhile, compared to many other parts of the city, Bernal is still relatively affordable. Yet we seem to have a hit a plateau in terms of price appreciation for the time being.

The recent sharp rise for interest rates and the surprise election results shocked many buyers in the last half of 2016, even though interest rates remain roughly on par with where they were in 2014.

Overall, the US economy is performing well, and San Francisco’s economy remains especially strong. As employment and wages grow, so do housing prices. Many home buyers use stock market earnings to make their down payments, so as the stock market rallies, buyers’ buying power does as well.

All told, we expect slower growth to continue until we see another jolt to the economy.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Bernal Heights, as seen from the west. Photo by the Bernalwood Air Force

New “Lake Alemany” Entices Local Media and Watersports Enthusiasts

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After several days of nonstop rain, Lake Alemany has taken form beneath the 101-280 “Spaghetti Bowl,” in southeast Bernal, and the new reservoir quickly attracted the attention of local television crews.

Neighbor John was also on the scene at Bernal’s own version of the Salton Sea, and he reports that Lake Alemany is 1-2 feet deep in the middle, and about 30′ wide. Here’s a close-up:

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No word yet on whether the Recreation and Parks Department plans to open Lake Alemany for bumper-wakeboarding and alligator hunting, but Bernal residents are advised to keep their air boats, amphibious vehicles, and fishing equipment at the ready, just in case.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Neighbor John

Bernal Dwellings Residents Want More Police Patrols to Halt Gun Violence

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As you may recall, SFPD’s Mission Station organized a community safety meeting last Wednesday in response to an ongoing series of gun-related incidents along the Cesar Chavez corridor that have been linked to the Bernal Dwellings affordable housing complex.

MissionLocal attended the meeting, and reporter Laura Waxman writes that Bernal Dwellings residents want more consistent police coverage:

While small in size, the four-block development is prone to violence, and residents there said that conditions have worsened, causing many to remain indoors for fear of being targeted.

“It’s very scary to live here right now because at any moment somebody can come by and start shooting or if they see somebody outside they see them as a target,” said Gina Guitron, Bernal Dwellings’ property manager who is also a resident there.

A January 26 shooting that injured a 52-year-old man while standing in front of a house at 26th Street and Treat Avenue and a 43-year-old man who was targeted moments later while walking in the area prompted Mission Station Police Captain Daniel Perea to call for the community meeting in an effort to discuss neighborhood safety.

On January 1, 21-year-old Ernesto Rosales was shot at 26th and Shotwell streets, marking the city’s first homicide of the year.

“When things happen, we have to step up our presence, we have officers going through here day and night to make sure that this area remains safe,” said Perea.

In response to the recent violence, Perea said that Mission station officers have been assigned swing shifts to extend patrol hours, and support from other units has been requested to ensure greater coverage of the area.

But some residents who attended the meeting said that they did not feel safe at all and that police’s response is too little and often comes too late.

Read the complete story at MissionLocal.

PHOTO:  Markers on the street indicate where gun casings were found after an October 2016 shooting at Precita Park that police linked to gang-related activity around Bernal Dwellings. Photo by Telstar Logistics

Cardboard Animal Parade Brings Purposeful Pointlessness to Precita Park

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The Cardboard Animal Parade that invaded Precita Park on Saturday evening turned out to be the perfect event, at the perfect time, in the perfect spirit to remind many Bernalese who we really are. As a dozen or so cardboard creatures milled about near the benches in front of HIllside Supper Club, a ragtag marching band tuned up to play, and Bernal neighbors of all ages came out to enjoy the ad hoc festivities.

Your Bernalwood editor tracked down Paul, one of the artists who helped coordinate the parade. Paul confessed that he’d had some anxiety about organizing something so frivolous at a time when the state of the world seems so grim, but in the end, he said, it seemed like the right thing to do.

He was right. The willfully apolitical Cardboard Animal Parade provided a much-needed reminder that we’re not alone, and we’ll all get through this together.

Bernalwood shared a live video broadcast just as the parade was getting underway, and we witnessed the the opening ceremonies, the band, and the emergence of the Parade Butterfly from his crumpled cardboard cocoon. If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed:

Special thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. It was wonderful!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Saturday Eve: Ad Hoc Cardboard Animal Parade Starts in Precita Park

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Local artists are putting together an ad hoc parade that will gather in Precita Park on Saturday evening, February 4, at 7 pm.

Naturally, it will be a Cardboard Animal Parade, and from Precita Park the procession will make its way to Dolores Park starting at about 8 pm. Kids, pets, and cardboard creatures of any species are welcome. Artist Paul tells Bernalwood:

This is a collaboration between a few people, partly because we had a large amount of cardboard without a purpose. I have hosted a few build days at my studio and worked on several pieces, so now we want to invite people to bring out anything they make.

We’ve also put a call out to some musician friends, so we expect to have at least one marching band. Since we started working I saw this video of a group called “Cardboardia” doing similar stuff on a large scale, and I like it very much.

Here are the details:

We’re throwing a parade Feb 4 at 7 PM!
Wanna build stuff? Wanna march?

We’re going to a have a parade.
One with large cardboard animal floats, that we are going to make.
We could have a reason for this but, really, there isn’t one. (We know there are a lot of important social / political actions going on. This very explicitly isn’t one of them.)

We are pulling inspiration from the spirit of Mardi Gras Krewe’s – lightly organized with a strong emphasis on fun. Our unifying theme: Animals.

We intend to meet up at 7pm and start moving sometime around 8pm, and our planned route winds through the Mission to the Castro.

PHOTOS Courtesy of the 2017 Cardboard Animal Parade

Chloe’s Closet Adds New Playroom, Art Classes, Spanish Storytime

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As you may recall, the fabulous Chloe’s Closet kids clothing consignment store at 451 Cortland has been struggling of late. Now, after a bit of downsizing, the store has transformed some of its former office space into a play zone and classroom.

In a recent email to customers, Chloe’s Closet said:

UPDATE for Chloe’s Bernal Heights
As we mentioned in our previous email, we have downsized our Bernal Heights location in order to enable us to save on overhead. We have turned our “Toy” side into our consignment intake and pricing station. This has allowed us to reduce our payroll and has been very helpful toward efforts to keep our Cortland Avenue location above water. Unfortunately sales have continued to soften at both our San Francisco locations and it looks like 2017 may continue the trend of declining sales for a 4th consecutive year. Our Irving Street location is off to a rough start and has already had a very steep drop in sales for January compared to previous years, putting us in an even more difficult position. We just can’t seem to catch a break. The next few months should give us an idea of whether we can afford to continue with two locations in San Francisco. In the meantime, we are putting forth a strong last-ditch effort and if we do have to go, we will go out swinging.

Introducing Chloe’s Playroom!
The downsize of our Bernal Heights Toy side freed up our old pricing office which was promptly turned into an adorable playroom by several of our enterprising employees. (Shout out to Emily, Keyko and Alex for the amazing handpainted mural and wall art!) Chloe’s Playroom includes a train table, baby play / hang out corner, brand new play kitchen, and dollhouse. Also included are a dress up section, and a “Montessori” play area with bins of rotating activities (not pictured above.)

Shop & Play
As a thank you for shopping with us, customers are welcome to take advantage of the Playroom. In exchange we simply ask that customers please support the business that day by making a purchase of at least $5 per child. We also ask that customers sign off on our Playroom safety rules on their first visit.

Rent Our Room
We are also making Chloe’s Playroom available to rent. If you need a cozy space for your Parent’s group, or to hold child/parenting related classes or meetings, please just let us know!

Join Us in the Playroom for Art & Spanish Activities!
Starting THIS WEEK we will have several drop-in Art classes as well as a weekly Spanish Story & Music time.

PHOTO: The new Chloe’s Closet playroom, via Chloe’s Closet

3300 Club Gone for Good, SRO’s Fate Uncertain, as Fire-Damaged Building Up For Sale

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The 3300 Club has operated at 3300 Mission Street, on the corner of Mission Street and 29th, since 1956. It’s been closed since last June, when a devastating fire destroyed the building next door and displaced the 50+ residents of the Graywood Hotel SRO who lived upstairs. The owners of the 3300 Club were determined to rebuild, but now we learn that the classic watering hole probably isn’t coming back because the whole building has been offered for sale.

In a public post on Facebook, Bernal neighbor and 3300 Club co-owner Shukry Lama writes:

3300 Mission Street is now up for sale. The landlords, who had a sit down meeting with us and talked about their plans to rebuild, and offer us a new lease with potentially more space, failed to let us know about this. My mom got to find out when a reporter called and asked about it. Imagine her surprise.

As much as I’d like to keep hoping that we’ll get a lease in that location, I think we all know it would never be the same. Yea, we could try and move to a new location, but the limits on moving a liquor license, the amount of protests you would get from opening a new bar, the amount of capital you would need, the time and effort that none of us have left, it’s just too much. We had such high hopes for a return, bringing our bar back to the neighborhood where we had been a staple for 60 years, but there is no loyalty in the real estate industry.

Dipak Patel, the current property owner, purchased the building for $1.5 million in 2004. MissionLocal spoke to Patel, who adds:

Before the fire struck, Patel was in the process of remodeling the hotel rooms, had done work to the hotel’s hallways and heating system, and had installed sprinklers which ultimately saved the building from more damage, he said.

“We spent about $10,000 a room before fire, so about $200,000 total, and we did electrical upgrades,” he said. “Whatever happens to the building, it will be a 100 percent upgrade.”

Under a sale, the status of the Graywood Hotel SRO, and the rooms where its former tenants lived, also remains uncertain.

The building at 3300 Mission Street is now offered for $3.5 million.  The property listing says:

The property is currently vacated (subject to residential tenant’s rights), stripped down to studs, and in need of a complete rehab. The building consists of 6 tourist licenses and 22 SRO (previously with 2 non-conforming rooms) on the two upper levels. The ground floor previously housed two retail tenants, a bar and a restaurant, and will be delivered free of tenants. There is a full-height basement. This property presents the opportunity for a developer to reconfigure rooms to maximize square footage and income. This beautiful Bernal Heights corner property is waiting to be restored to its former glory and more!

PHOTO: The 3300 Club sign, as it looked after a fresh paint job in 2013. Photo by Burrito Justice