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On Thursday, December 13, 2018, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously voted to require the owner of the Largent House – designed by noted architect Richard Neutra and illegally razed in October 2017 – to rebuild the house at 49 Hopkins Street based on the original 1935 drawings. After a spate of unauthorized residential demolitions in San Francisco, the unprecedented decision by the Planning Commission has garnered international media coverage and stands as a powerful cautionary tale for future would-be offenders. The outcome is a testament to the tireless efforts of a broad coalition of community advocates working to spotlight and curb similar abuses across the city. Click here to read Heritage’s testimony at the hearing.



SF to developer who tore down landmark house: Rebuild it exactly as it was

SF Chronicle, December 15, 2018

A man illegally razed his historic San Francisco home. Now he must build a replica.

Washington Post, December 17, 2018

Owner who demolished famed San Francisco house must build replica

BBC, December 17, 2018

Man ordered to build replica of San Francisco home after illegally demolishing building

Fox News, December 17, 2018

Developer is ordered to build an EXACT replica of a landmark San Francisco home designed by a famed architect after he illegally demolished the $1.7million property to make way for a new mansion

Daily Mail (UK), December 17, 2018

Man who ‘illegally’ razed his historic San Francisco home must rebuild an exact replica

New Zealand Herald, December 18, 2018

City-ordered rebuild of landmark house stirs debate: Appropriate or overreach?

SF Chronicle, December 18, 2018



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 12, 2018


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – San Francisco Heritage (“Heritage”) and Mill Valley developer Thompson|Dorfman Partners, LLC announced that they have reached an agreement rescinding Heritage’s appeal of the City’s approval of the mixed-use project at the current site of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist located at 450 O’Farrell in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

“This is an important milestone for San Francisco and the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District,” said San Francisco Heritage president Mike Buhler. “This agreement addresses our policy issue opposing ‘facadism’ and will help preserve other historic buildings within the Tenderloin Historic District. It clears the path for Thompson|Dorfman Partners and Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist to build much-needed housing and a new Church facility that will enable the congregation to extend its longstanding presence in,  and mission of service to,  the Tenderloin community.”

“I want to congratulate our community stakeholders, resident leaders, and project sponsor for working collaboratively to develop a project which builds housing and serves the Tenderloin neighborhood.”  said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim.  “The project will build higher levels of affordable housing than required, urgently needed in the Tenderloin, and provide funding for preservation in this historic neighborhood.”

The project will replace three existing buildings with 176-dwelling units, including 16 percent affordable, a new church facility and reading room, and ground-floor retail.  Built in 1923, the church building is part of the Uptown Tenderloin National Register Historic District.  Redevelopment of this site has been contemplated for over three decades.

The project, proposed in 2013, envisioned a completely new Church and housing project. The planning process guided the project sponsors to retain the original façade against the wishes of the Church.  The subsequent four-year process resulted in the proposed saving of the façade.

Since 2017, Heritage has been promoting alternatives to demolition of the church building while opposing the design for the project, which incorporated the historic colonnade into the new building.  Heritage contended that retaining the colonnade of 450 O’Farrell was inappropriate facadism and “a jarring pastiche of historical and new elements.”

On September 13, at the request of Heritage and with consent of both Thompson|Dorfman Partners and the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, the Planning Commission approved a revised design without the colonnade. Nonetheless, Heritage appealed the project approvals to the Board of Supervisors alleging that the City’s approval failed to incorporate feasible mitigation measures to account for the project’s significant adverse impact on the neighborhood by demolishing the historic church building.

The parties’ comprehensive settlement provides for the dismissal of Heritage’s appeals and will end their opposition to the project.

Members of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist stated that the process that led to a multi-year delay needs repair but are supportive of the design change which they see as an honest expression of their continued presence in the community.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement to allow this project to proceed.  We will use this experience to initiate a dialogue with the San Francisco Interfaith Council and other communities of faith to explore creative options that respect their position in the community and their historical properties, while creating more housing opportunities in this supply-constrained area.” said Buhler.

Bruce Dorfman of Thompson|Dorfman Partners stated “TDP has spent the past four years working with the City, neighbors, and other community groups, and we are all excited to get this project constructed.  450 O’Farrell will revitalize the area with a stunning new mixed-use building and will help with the very real housing crisis.”

David Murray of Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, stated “This has been a long and difficult process … we look forward to our new church which will allow us to continue our mission of providing love and hope in the Tenderloin – a place we have called home for close to a century.”

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About Thompson | Dorfman Partners 

Thompson | Dorfman Partners, LLC is a real estate development and investment firm whose principals have a long history in California’s housing industry. Formed in 1999 by Will Thompson and Bruce Dorfman, Thompson | Dorfman focuses on multi-family residential development, with particular emphasis on well-sited, urban in-fill and mixed-use properties located in high-growth, technology-driven markets in the western U.S.

The principals of Thompson | Dorfman are 25+ year veterans in their industry with a reputation for quality and a track record of performance. Collectively, they have developed 15,000 multi-family homes in 45 California apartment and condominium communities. They have also expanded their services to provide development advisory, management, and investment expertise to corporate land owners and financial institutions.  In 2015, they formed a new venture with Trammell Crow Residential and embarked on developing a $1 billion pipeline of multi-family projects in the Bay Area.

In addition, Thompson | Dorfman has created a non-profit entity, Education Housing Partners, Inc., to provide a full complement of development services to school districts and other public agencies to build workforce housing to help recruit and retain quality employees.

While discovering overlooked opportunities and resolving challenging development issues, Thompson | Dorfman continues to deliver luxury in-fill housing that benefits the surrounding community, rewards its investors, and surpasses the expectations of property residents. See www.thompsondorfman.com

About San Francisco Heritage

Since 1971 San Francisco Heritage has been leading the civic discussion about the compatibility of rapid change with protecting our past. Heritage is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization with a mission to preserve and enhance San Francisco’s unique architectural and cultural identity. This includes advocacy for historic resources, education programs, and tours and rental of the 1886 Haas-Lilienthal House.   www.sfheritage.org


450 O’Farrell Update: Taking A Stand Against Façadism


Over the past year and a half, Heritage has been promoting alternatives to the proposed demolition of Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, at 450 O’Farrell Street. Built in 1923, the church is both a contributor to the Upper Tenderloin National Register Historic District and individually eligible for listing in the California Register of Historic Resources. Heritage has consistently and unequivocally opposed demolishing the church for market-rate housing and new church facilities. The project sponsor had originally budgeted $5 million to artificially paste the 1923 colonnade and portico onto the new building. Saving a small piece of the façade, in Heritage’s view, would have left an absurd monument to the ineffectiveness of the city’s preservation protections.

When it became clear that the Planning Commission was poised to approve the proposed project, Heritage was forced to debate whether to take a principled stand against façadism — even if it meant accepting complete demolition of the historic building. Heritage ultimately recommended (1) removal of the colonnade from the new design, and (2) reallocation of the resulting cost savings to worthy preservation projects in the Upper Tenderloin Historic District. At its September 13 meeting, the Planning Commission approved the revised design (sans colonnade) and encouraged the project sponsor to reach agreement with Heritage on their funding commitment for off-site preservation projects. On October 15, with no agreement in hand, Heritage filed an appeal of the project asserting the city failed to adopt feasible mitigation measures to adequately compensate for the destruction of the historic church building. Heritage’s position on the 450 O’Farrell project is explicitly contingent on the project sponsor’s commitment to reallocate the net cost savings to the city for historic preservation, façade improvement, and affordable housing improvements in the Upper Tenderloin Historic District. For more background on this issue, see the current issue of Heritage News.

San Francisco Heritage featured on SFGovTV!


Without its many independent, locally-owned businesses, San Francisco wouldn’t be San Francisco. Local businesses that have been flourishing for 30 years and longer are the anchors of our communities.

Preserving these legacy businesses are critical to maintaining San Francisco’s uniqueness and what draw tourists from around the world.

Liguria Bakery, Tommy’s Joynt, & Mitchell’s Ice Cream are 3 SF institutions who speak with QuickBites about their historic businesses and about why it’s so important that they are still around providing generations after generations of San Franciscans with their culinary delights.

More about Legacy Business Registry:

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