New development planned for site of demolished historic cottage

The Russian Hill cottage was demolished in 2009.

About two years ago, the Guardian reported on the demolition of one of San Francisco's oldest buildings -- the Little House, a cottage on Russian Hill that stood for 148 years at 1268 Lombard Street.

The demolition drew the ire of the Russian Hill Neighbors Association and local historic preservationists, because the historic property came down in the blink of an eye after the owners were granted an emergency demolition permit from the Department of Building Inspection. At the time, surrounding neighbors raised concerns that the Little House had been purposefully neglected in order to get it to a demolish-able condition, so that the lot could be cleared for development without undergoing the standard environmental review process.

Co-owners of the lot (pictured in the box) where the Little House once stood now want to construct a 4-unit building.

The agenda for today's Board of Supervisors meeting includes a public hearing on a conditional use permit for a new building at 1268 Lombard, deemed to be an infill project because it'll be constructed on what's now an empty lot. Co-owners James Nunenbacher and Michael Cassidy are requesting city approval to construct a four-unit, 40-foot high residential project there.

Expect fireworks, as residents such as F. Joseph Butler, an architect with the Little House Committee, haven't forgotten the loss of the cottage, which was one of the only structures on Russian Hill that emerged unscathed after the 1906 earthquake and ensuing fires.

"I think that the project sponsors ... should not be rewarded for tearing down one of our most historic properties," a woman from the preservation community noted at a Feb. 17 Planning Commission meeting about the conditional use permit.

At today's meeting, supervisors could vote either to approve or disapprove the conditional-use permit.

***UPDATE*** No fireworks after all, the item was continued.