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Map: 23 Academy of Art Properties, and Their Alleged Violations

The city's controversial art school owns some of the most beautiful historic buildings in San Francisco — most of which are alleged to be in major violation

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Although San Francisco alleges that 33 of the 40 buildings Academy of Art University owns in the city are in violation of every property law on the books, the present litigation, filed last week by city attorney Dennis Herrera, names only 23 of them. (Speaking of lawyers: None of these allegations have been proven, and we are still waiting for AAU return our inquiries for comment.) Be that as it may, the AAU portfolio has some of the most striking historical buildings in the city.

Here's a look at the contentious properties, and the charges against them.

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1. Coco Chanel Hall

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1916 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94109

An 11,500 square foot property circa 1900, used by the Academy as residential housing for women. The full name is the Coco Chanel Women's Empowerment Hall. The building is zoned for hotel and apartment use, but not for student housing (the same complaint leveled against all of the subsequent AAU dorms). Legalizing this (alleged) misuse of the building would require a vote from the Board of Supervisors.

2. Frank Lloyd Wright Hall

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1153 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109

This 10,000-square-foot building dates to 1911 and was sold to the Academy in 1998 for $815,000 ($1.2 million today). The Wright hall is the Academy's official gender-neutral dorm, for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning residents, as well as their allies."

3. Mary Cassatt Hall

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2209 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

This is a 7,800-square-foot Victorian from 1912 that set the Academy back $2 million in 1998 ($2.9 million today). That was quite a flip for seller Albion Pacific Properties, who bought it the previous year for $980,000. It's a designated city landmark, presently used as a co-ed dorm.

4. Ansel Adams Building

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2211 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

Sibling building to the Mary Cassatt Hall, this was previously a restaurant with an apartment on top. The Academy converted it into grad student dorms in 2005 and slapped the present name on it, paying $2.1 million (the equivalent of $2.56 million now). The "tropical foliage and a koi fish-filled pond" advertised on the AAU site are presumably holdovers from its eatery days.

5. Auguste Rodin Hall

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1055 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94109

One of the big ones, this is the Academy's men's residence hall, which includes a cafe, game rooms, pool, and lounge. The 124-unit, 36,000 square foot building dates to 1910, and has been in the Academy portfolio since 1995. Previously it was the St Anthony's Elder Care Facility.

6. Leonardo da Vinci Apartments

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1080 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109

This five story, 1913 brick number has 55 units and set the Academy back $6.3 million in 1999 ($9.86 million today). Now a dorm, it was previously an apartment building.

7. The International House

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860 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

This co-ed dorm houses the Academy's international students (89 units for 182 residents). Previously, it was the Beresford Hotel, until AAU picked it up in 2000.

8. Star Motel

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1727 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94123

God forbid Lombard Street should have one less hotel. The Academy converted it to student housing in 2007, which actually is permitted under the zoning, but requires specific permitting that city attorney Dennis Herrera says they never bothered to file for after purchase.

9. Commodore Hotel

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825 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

This one was a merchant seaman hotel from 1928. When AAU bought it in 2006, they knocked the last word off of the name, dubbing it "The Commodore," a 114-unit dorm.

10. Morgan Auditorium

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491 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94102

One of the Academy's most beautiful holdings, a beaux arts building circa 1913 that's a registered city landmark. Which is why it's such a serious problem if the Academy did, in fact, alter the interior without the approval of the Historic Preservation Commission, as the city attorney alleges. The building, previously a church, now serves as an auditorium, plus the arts history and liberal arts departments.

11. St Brigid Church

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2151 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

Another landmark in the Academy portfolio, this Gothic cathedral, circa 1900, closed in 1993 by order of the Archbishop of San Francisco, partly because of lack of funds to seismically retrofit the 90-year-old ceiling. The Academy procured it in 2005, allegedly sans conditional use permits. It presently serves as an industrial design studio and auditorium.

12. 625 Gallery

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620 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102

No Bay Area shopping spree is complete without a Julia Morgan building. The 1918 Morgan YWCA is the Academy's photography gallery, as well as darkrooms, and studios for MFA students. The upper floors are housing for 129 students (in 65 rooms), along with a theater, pool, and gym. None of which was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, which is a big problem when it comes to a noted 100-year-old Julia Morgan design.

13. The Cannery

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2801 Leavenworth St
San Francisco, CA 94133

Another plum acquisition, a 130,000 Fisherman's Wharf locale from 1907 right at the end of Hyde Street, which was of course a former cannery but more recently a nightclub called the Parlor. The Academy uses it as gallery space for students' works, allegedly without proper permits.

14. 1069 Pine Street

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1069 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94109

A comparably small fry, this squat, four-unit apartment building (overshadowed by its Pine Street neighbors on either side) was built in 1921 and runs about 1,900 square feet. The residential zoned building is now a gym and school clubhouse office, after the Academy bought it in 2000.

15. 601 Brannan Street

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601 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Home to a dotcom until 2007, this is the Academy's architecture library, as well as a furniture shop, web design lab, "live animal illustration studio," and also a skate park of all things. This building is zoned for arts use (among other things), but the skate park presumably doesn't make the cut.

16. 60 Federal Street

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60 Federal St
San Francisco, CA 94107

The Academy's printmaking, silkscreen, letterpress, lithograph, book arts, and framing studio in the Design District, over 99,000 square feet in a 1912 building. It's supposed to be office space, but the city alleges that the Academy never bothered getting permission to change its use.

17. 1849 Van Ness Avenue

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1849 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

A 63,600-square-foot building dating back to to 1920. Previously an auto showroom and furniture store (seemingly the entire reason Van Ness Avenue was paved), it's now largely Academy studio space. The city says the Academy never bothered to obtain conditional use authorization. Also, in a act of brazen and flagrant lawlessness, they put up a canopy sans permit.

18. 2295 Taylor Street

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2295 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94133

A onetime GAP store, the San Francisco Art Institute was once authorized to add a third floor, but the permits expired before construction happened, and they sold it off to the Academy. While it's zoned for commercial use, the AAU uses the first floor as gallery and office space, leaving the second floor vacant. They're also on the hook for alleged parking space violations.

19. 2300 Stockton Street

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2300 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133

A 43,000-square-foot building, circa 1970, this space was once the Otis Elevator Company. Bought in 1991, it now serves as the Academy's Fashion and Visual Merchandising labs. The city says the Academy never obtained building permits for any of the work done on the building or for the signage.

20. 466 Townsend Street

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466 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107

A data center that the Academy converted partly into sound stages and acting studios for their cinema department, it is intended to be used as office, retail, or manufacturing space.

21. 460 Townsend Street

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460 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107

The onetime ALFA lighting company, a 16,000-square-foot building from 1915. Since 2009 it's been the Academy's interior architecture and design studio, which doesn't fit its zoning as PDR or commercial space. In 2010, AAU requested a hearing to review the zoning on this building. It lost, appealed, and lost again. Thus far, though, those decisions appear to be entirely cosmetic in effect.

22. 2225 Jerrold Avenue

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2225 Jerrold Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124

One of the few relatively recent buildings in the catalog, a 63,000-square-foot warehouse built in 1982. The Academy paid $2 million for it in 1994 ($3.2 million in 2016 money). It is zoned for PDR use, which some of the Academy's facilities could conceivably qualify, but for the most part in the past they used it as a garage (including "antique fire vehicle storage"). Three years ago, they added in a weight room and basketball court.

23. 950 Van Ness Avenue

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950 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

Two different buildings on the same block, connected internally and serving as garage space for AAU's classic car collection. (Until this legal filing, it was probably not apparent to most people exactly how many classic cars the Academy owns.) It was once an auto showroom and garage, which would seem to be pretty much the same thing it's being used as now, but the lawsuit insists that additional permitting is still required.

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1. Coco Chanel Hall

1916 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94109

An 11,500 square foot property circa 1900, used by the Academy as residential housing for women. The full name is the Coco Chanel Women's Empowerment Hall. The building is zoned for hotel and apartment use, but not for student housing (the same complaint leveled against all of the subsequent AAU dorms). Legalizing this (alleged) misuse of the building would require a vote from the Board of Supervisors.

1916 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94109

2. Frank Lloyd Wright Hall

1153 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This 10,000-square-foot building dates to 1911 and was sold to the Academy in 1998 for $815,000 ($1.2 million today). The Wright hall is the Academy's official gender-neutral dorm, for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning residents, as well as their allies."

1153 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109

3. Mary Cassatt Hall

2209 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

This is a 7,800-square-foot Victorian from 1912 that set the Academy back $2 million in 1998 ($2.9 million today). That was quite a flip for seller Albion Pacific Properties, who bought it the previous year for $980,000. It's a designated city landmark, presently used as a co-ed dorm.

2209 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

4. Ansel Adams Building

2211 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Sibling building to the Mary Cassatt Hall, this was previously a restaurant with an apartment on top. The Academy converted it into grad student dorms in 2005 and slapped the present name on it, paying $2.1 million (the equivalent of $2.56 million now). The "tropical foliage and a koi fish-filled pond" advertised on the AAU site are presumably holdovers from its eatery days.

2211 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

5. Auguste Rodin Hall

1055 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94109

One of the big ones, this is the Academy's men's residence hall, which includes a cafe, game rooms, pool, and lounge. The 124-unit, 36,000 square foot building dates to 1910, and has been in the Academy portfolio since 1995. Previously it was the St Anthony's Elder Care Facility.

1055 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94109

6. Leonardo da Vinci Apartments

1080 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This five story, 1913 brick number has 55 units and set the Academy back $6.3 million in 1999 ($9.86 million today). Now a dorm, it was previously an apartment building.

1080 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109

7. The International House

860 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This co-ed dorm houses the Academy's international students (89 units for 182 residents). Previously, it was the Beresford Hotel, until AAU picked it up in 2000.

860 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

8. Star Motel

1727 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

God forbid Lombard Street should have one less hotel. The Academy converted it to student housing in 2007, which actually is permitted under the zoning, but requires specific permitting that city attorney Dennis Herrera says they never bothered to file for after purchase.

1727 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94123

9. Commodore Hotel

825 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This one was a merchant seaman hotel from 1928. When AAU bought it in 2006, they knocked the last word off of the name, dubbing it "The Commodore," a 114-unit dorm.

825 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

10. Morgan Auditorium

491 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94102

One of the Academy's most beautiful holdings, a beaux arts building circa 1913 that's a registered city landmark. Which is why it's such a serious problem if the Academy did, in fact, alter the interior without the approval of the Historic Preservation Commission, as the city attorney alleges. The building, previously a church, now serves as an auditorium, plus the arts history and liberal arts departments.

491 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94102

11. St Brigid Church

2151 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Another landmark in the Academy portfolio, this Gothic cathedral, circa 1900, closed in 1993 by order of the Archbishop of San Francisco, partly because of lack of funds to seismically retrofit the 90-year-old ceiling. The Academy procured it in 2005, allegedly sans conditional use permits. It presently serves as an industrial design studio and auditorium.

2151 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

12. 625 Gallery

620 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94102

No Bay Area shopping spree is complete without a Julia Morgan building. The 1918 Morgan YWCA is the Academy's photography gallery, as well as darkrooms, and studios for MFA students. The upper floors are housing for 129 students (in 65 rooms), along with a theater, pool, and gym. None of which was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, which is a big problem when it comes to a noted 100-year-old Julia Morgan design.

620 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102

13. The Cannery

2801 Leavenworth St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Another plum acquisition, a 130,000 Fisherman's Wharf locale from 1907 right at the end of Hyde Street, which was of course a former cannery but more recently a nightclub called the Parlor. The Academy uses it as gallery space for students' works, allegedly without proper permits.

2801 Leavenworth St
San Francisco, CA 94133

14. 1069 Pine Street

1069 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94109

A comparably small fry, this squat, four-unit apartment building (overshadowed by its Pine Street neighbors on either side) was built in 1921 and runs about 1,900 square feet. The residential zoned building is now a gym and school clubhouse office, after the Academy bought it in 2000.

1069 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94109

15. 601 Brannan Street

601 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Home to a dotcom until 2007, this is the Academy's architecture library, as well as a furniture shop, web design lab, "live animal illustration studio," and also a skate park of all things. This building is zoned for arts use (among other things), but the skate park presumably doesn't make the cut.

601 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94107

16. 60 Federal Street

60 Federal St, San Francisco, CA 94107

The Academy's printmaking, silkscreen, letterpress, lithograph, book arts, and framing studio in the Design District, over 99,000 square feet in a 1912 building. It's supposed to be office space, but the city alleges that the Academy never bothered getting permission to change its use.

60 Federal St
San Francisco, CA 94107

17. 1849 Van Ness Avenue

1849 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

A 63,600-square-foot building dating back to to 1920. Previously an auto showroom and furniture store (seemingly the entire reason Van Ness Avenue was paved), it's now largely Academy studio space. The city says the Academy never bothered to obtain conditional use authorization. Also, in a act of brazen and flagrant lawlessness, they put up a canopy sans permit.

1849 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

18. 2295 Taylor Street

2295 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133

A onetime GAP store, the San Francisco Art Institute was once authorized to add a third floor, but the permits expired before construction happened, and they sold it off to the Academy. While it's zoned for commercial use, the AAU uses the first floor as gallery and office space, leaving the second floor vacant. They're also on the hook for alleged parking space violations.

2295 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94133

19. 2300 Stockton Street

2300 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

A 43,000-square-foot building, circa 1970, this space was once the Otis Elevator Company. Bought in 1991, it now serves as the Academy's Fashion and Visual Merchandising labs. The city says the Academy never obtained building permits for any of the work done on the building or for the signage.

2300 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133

20. 466 Townsend Street

466 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

A data center that the Academy converted partly into sound stages and acting studios for their cinema department, it is intended to be used as office, retail, or manufacturing space.

466 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107

21. 460 Townsend Street

460 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

The onetime ALFA lighting company, a 16,000-square-foot building from 1915. Since 2009 it's been the Academy's interior architecture and design studio, which doesn't fit its zoning as PDR or commercial space. In 2010, AAU requested a hearing to review the zoning on this building. It lost, appealed, and lost again. Thus far, though, those decisions appear to be entirely cosmetic in effect.

460 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107

22. 2225 Jerrold Avenue

2225 Jerrold Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124

One of the few relatively recent buildings in the catalog, a 63,000-square-foot warehouse built in 1982. The Academy paid $2 million for it in 1994 ($3.2 million in 2016 money). It is zoned for PDR use, which some of the Academy's facilities could conceivably qualify, but for the most part in the past they used it as a garage (including "antique fire vehicle storage"). Three years ago, they added in a weight room and basketball court.

2225 Jerrold Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124

23. 950 Van Ness Avenue

950 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Two different buildings on the same block, connected internally and serving as garage space for AAU's classic car collection. (Until this legal filing, it was probably not apparent to most people exactly how many classic cars the Academy owns.) It was once an auto showroom and garage, which would seem to be pretty much the same thing it's being used as now, but the lawsuit insists that additional permitting is still required.

950 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109