Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Food & Drinks
Published on December 10, 2019
Lucky 13 nears 5th year of limbo as developers propose largest housing project yetPhotos: Alisa Scerrato/Hoodline

Popular dive bar Lucky 13 (2140 Market St.) has been in limbo for nearly five years, as developers have debated various proposals for housing on its prime Market Street site. 

In March 2015, we first broke the story of the bar's impending closure, and the accompanying plan to build a five-story, 31-unit apartment building with 1,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial space on the site. 

By late 2017, the property had sold and the plans changed again: this time, to an eight-story, 75-foot-tall, 33-unit building on the site of the bar, with a mixture of commercial, community and office space on the ground floor.

Now, Duboce Triangle neighbors have received another notification in their mailboxes, announcing tentative plans for the biggest project on the site yet — 90 dwelling units and 9+ stories, at a height of 82 feet, plus a ground-floor retail space.

The pre-application notification of the new project, which was sent to Duboce Triangle neighbors. | Photo: Anonymous/Hoodline Tipline

The notification does not state how many of those units will be below market rate. Developer Keystone Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the project.

The project is still in its pre-application phase — hence the neighborhood notification, which is required by the San Francisco Planning Department for approval.

But if it's approved, Keystone Group will need to demolish not only Lucky 13 and its adjacent parking lot at 2144 Market, but a three-unit, owner-occupied residential building at neighboring 2134-36 Market St. as well. 

A three-unit apartment building at 2134-2136 Market St. may be demolished to make way for the new development. | Photo: Francesca L./Hoodline tipline

Neighbor Francesca L. has lived in Duboce Triangle for more than 30 years. She said that while she realizes that housing is a huge problem in San Francisco, she is against "obliterating a thriving business, neighborhood attraction and hub, along with an already existing apartment building, to build yet another housing development."

She said that she and her neighbors have been especially frustrated by the new 52-unit apartment building at Church and Market that's leased all of its market-rate units to Sonder, a startup specializing in furnished apartment rentals at $4,150 to $6,450 per month. 

The decision met with significant controversy in Duboce Triangle, with some neighbors accusing property owner Brian Spiers of taking permanent dwelling units off the market amid San Francisco's ongoing housing crisis. (The building does have eight below-market-rate units, which are managed by Spiers and  leased by the Mayor's Office of Housing.)

“Apparently, we don’t matter," said Francesca. "Our quality of life, our hard-built community, is just a pothole in the path of the build, build, build philosophy currently driving decisions in this town."

The development at 2100 Market St., where all market-rate units have been leased to Sonder.

Francesca also noted that upper Market Street has contributed an above-average number of new housing developments to the city's overall pool, in comparison to other neighborhoods that have built none. 

"Five projects on the 2100 block of Market since the Upper Market/Octavia plan unfurled," she said. "And this one is taking out a beloved neighborhood institution."

Francesca's views were echoed by retired labor activist and Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Christine Costello, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. Costello says she believes the neighborhood is maxed out on new housing developments. 

“We’ve had construction going on for most of the last several years. We already have three condo buildings on one block. Many units seem empty, and there’s very little business in the retail spaces," she said. "I’ve known 34 friends who were displaced by illegal evictions. No one I know could afford to live in any of these units."

"The [Lucky 13] building is an historic landmark, and we’ve already lost so much of the charm in our neighborhood," she continued. "It’s not needed.” 

The outdoor patio at Lucky 13.

Despite spending years under the threat of closure, Lucky 13 celebrated its 25th anniversary in April. At the time, the bar's manager, Martin Kraenkel, said that it could be another year or more before it officially closed, given the city's lengthy application process.

Kraenkel declined to comment on the developer's most recent proposal, saying that he has no additional information to offer that isn't already stated in the notice.

Since the proposed project is still in the pre-application phase, neighbors are invited to attend a feedback meeting with the developer at 2134 Market St. on Tuesday, December 17 at 6 p.m.

We'll update readers on the results of the meeting, as well as when the developer submits its final proposal to Planning.