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The Curbed Solution: 99 Ord Street

Inaugurating The Curbed Solution where we give completely unsolicited advice to properties on the market, above and beyond "tear it down" and without regard to expense. Our first innocent bystander:

Sunday, on the edge of the Castro, a parking space appeared miraculously in front of 99 Ord. So sure, we went in for a look. It's an odd house, basically a single flat built on a huge box containing a one-bedroom rental and the garage. It's also potentially cheap, but in cubic feet rather than those square ones that everyone talks about. $1,599,000.00

Pros: Most of the interior details remain untouched from 1932: walnut doors that have never seen paint, still-crisp plaster moldings, a ziggurat ceiling in the central hall that's a miniature version of the one in Oakland's contemporaneous Paramount Theatre. Modernism may have been blooming in the Weimar, but these Art Deco details applied to a Marina-style box were as up-to-date as ipe decks and venetian plaster are today. The original bath has a small but beautiful tile mural (after the jump.) High ceilings. Main rooms face south over a small park. Five minutes to MUNI.

Cons: The layout is quirky, the paint job and the stained glass windows are all about the '70's. The kitchen is dowdy and up two flights of stairs- and there are those aforementioned replacement windows. It's on a very busy street. For now only one real bedroom. Both the pentroom with bath and ground-floor rental unit may have unresolved permitting issues, and what they're calling "the Wintergarden" is a shed tacked on two stories in the air. Asbestos and lead? Oh, probably.
· 99-99A Ord Street [McGuire RE]
· Paramount Theatre [Oakland Paramount]
· The Open House Report: Art Deco [Curbed SF]

Tile inset in bath at 99 Ord Street

The Curbed Solution: For all the deco details, the house's WTF moment is the garage, a space about 20 x 30 feet and two stories high. (In the photo, it extends from the left of the garage door to the garden gate on the right, and all the way back, plus up to the underside of the extension.) Gut the entire ground floor apartment and garage. Move the garage and ground floor entry around the corner to Ord, put in a new kitchen at the same level as the garage, a half-bath and dining area. Step down to a spectacular two-story living room facing the garden. Upstairs, pull the "Wintergarden" and pentroom off the building. There's currently only one bedroom, but you can easily convert the main rooms into two more bedrooms and baths plus a media/family room and half-bath, while keeping the vintage details intact. Change the crummy aluminum windows. Keep new openings on the ground floor to a minimum while retaining the original stucco details. And think up a new color scheme for the exterior.

Cost: Under a million dollars, plus two years of your life.

Worth it? We've seen very few houses with so much untapped cubic volume combined with original detail. Right now the layout is poorly thought out and the decor depressing, while the apartment and pentroom are barely legal- they don't have sufficient egress. So if a finished 3 bedroom 3.5 bath house with two-car parking and a double height living room and garden in a walkable neighborhood is worth $2.3M, this be it. Oh, and there's enough room on the roof to put in a full array of solar panels at some point in the future.