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Sale of Truax House seems imminent

Historical significance validated in report

The three-story Truax House at the entrance to Maple Canyon,  corner of Laurel and Union streets
The three-story Truax House at the entrance to Maple Canyon, corner of Laurel and Union streets

The sale of the Truax House, considered one of the nation's first hospices for AIDS patients, is one step closer to being finalized.

According to an email obtained by the Reader from an asset manager for the City of San Diego's Real Estate Assets Department, a buyer has been selected to purchase the property located at 2513/2515 Union Street in Bankers Hill.

"We wanted to let you know that a potential buyer has been selected, subject to city council approval," wrote asset manager Mary Carlson in an email to a resident. "We plan to bring the proposed sale to city council for approval on August 1/2. However, the specific city council date has not yet been confirmed and is subject to processing and scheduling availability."

The notice comes as the city's Historical Resources Board is reviewing a historical report submitted by one of the proposed buyers, Soheil Nakhshab. Conducting a historical review is one of the requirements that councilmember Todd Gloria requested after hearing complaints from residents and preservationists about selling the property.

The Real Estate Assets Department announced its decision to sell the .68-acre property located at the western end of highly traversed Maple Canyon in January of this year. City employees deemed the parcel too small and the grade too steep to turn it into anything but a profit for the city. Residents and open-space advocates thought otherwise. They saw the property as an opportunity to use the space to access Maple Canyon, connecting the western end of Bankers Hill and Little Italy to Hillcrest. Saving the property meant preserving the Truax House and the history of it as a potential LGBT landmark.

The house was built in 1912 by entrepreneur Edward A. Kavanagh. In 1987, the AIDS Assistance Fund turned the house into a hospice for terminal AIDS patients. The organization named the site the Truax House after San Diego doctor Brad Truax, who treated patients who battled the disease and advocated for gay rights and sexual disease prevention.

In 1988, Truax died from AIDS-related complications. The Truax House closed a few years later and was then leased to Father Joe Carroll for use as a halfway house.

Residents and historical and nature preservationists objected to the sale of the land and the house. Meanwhile, city staffers said the plot could bring an estimated $2.7 million in revenue.

In April 2016, councilmember Gloria, with support from mayor Kevin Faulconer, requested a historical study be conducted. As a failsafe, aimed at preserving Dr. Truax's name and the history surrounding the Truax House, Gloria also proposed naming a park after Truax and constructing a memorial in his name.

Now, according to the email from city staff, it appears as if the sale of the Truax House is imminent. Details of the potential sale have not been released.

On July 28, the Historical Resources Board will meet to discuss the historical report. The report found that the Truax House did qualify for historical status because, according to the city's established criteria for historical properties, it "exemplifies or reflects special elements of a City's, a community's or a neighborhood's historical, archaeological, cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic, engineering, landscaping or architectural development."

The rest of the property was not found to have any historical significance.

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The three-story Truax House at the entrance to Maple Canyon,  corner of Laurel and Union streets
The three-story Truax House at the entrance to Maple Canyon, corner of Laurel and Union streets

The sale of the Truax House, considered one of the nation's first hospices for AIDS patients, is one step closer to being finalized.

According to an email obtained by the Reader from an asset manager for the City of San Diego's Real Estate Assets Department, a buyer has been selected to purchase the property located at 2513/2515 Union Street in Bankers Hill.

"We wanted to let you know that a potential buyer has been selected, subject to city council approval," wrote asset manager Mary Carlson in an email to a resident. "We plan to bring the proposed sale to city council for approval on August 1/2. However, the specific city council date has not yet been confirmed and is subject to processing and scheduling availability."

The notice comes as the city's Historical Resources Board is reviewing a historical report submitted by one of the proposed buyers, Soheil Nakhshab. Conducting a historical review is one of the requirements that councilmember Todd Gloria requested after hearing complaints from residents and preservationists about selling the property.

The Real Estate Assets Department announced its decision to sell the .68-acre property located at the western end of highly traversed Maple Canyon in January of this year. City employees deemed the parcel too small and the grade too steep to turn it into anything but a profit for the city. Residents and open-space advocates thought otherwise. They saw the property as an opportunity to use the space to access Maple Canyon, connecting the western end of Bankers Hill and Little Italy to Hillcrest. Saving the property meant preserving the Truax House and the history of it as a potential LGBT landmark.

The house was built in 1912 by entrepreneur Edward A. Kavanagh. In 1987, the AIDS Assistance Fund turned the house into a hospice for terminal AIDS patients. The organization named the site the Truax House after San Diego doctor Brad Truax, who treated patients who battled the disease and advocated for gay rights and sexual disease prevention.

In 1988, Truax died from AIDS-related complications. The Truax House closed a few years later and was then leased to Father Joe Carroll for use as a halfway house.

Residents and historical and nature preservationists objected to the sale of the land and the house. Meanwhile, city staffers said the plot could bring an estimated $2.7 million in revenue.

In April 2016, councilmember Gloria, with support from mayor Kevin Faulconer, requested a historical study be conducted. As a failsafe, aimed at preserving Dr. Truax's name and the history surrounding the Truax House, Gloria also proposed naming a park after Truax and constructing a memorial in his name.

Now, according to the email from city staff, it appears as if the sale of the Truax House is imminent. Details of the potential sale have not been released.

On July 28, the Historical Resources Board will meet to discuss the historical report. The report found that the Truax House did qualify for historical status because, according to the city's established criteria for historical properties, it "exemplifies or reflects special elements of a City's, a community's or a neighborhood's historical, archaeological, cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic, engineering, landscaping or architectural development."

The rest of the property was not found to have any historical significance.

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Comments
2

The City of San Diego Public Notices of from Real Estate Asset Department (READ) for Surplus Lands to other local agencies 1 to 3 years are inadequate and unofficial Declarations of Surplus Real Property.

https://www.sandiego.gov/city-clerk/officialdocs

READ listing Surplus property for sale online is not an Official Public Notice.

https://www.sandiego.gov/real-estate-assets/services/brokers

Yesterday the County Board of Supervisors approved Item 6 HIV/AIDS Getting to Zero Implementation Plan and Item 11 Declaration and Donation of 247 Acres of County owned land in Campo as part of the Historic Camp Lockett.

http://tinyurl.com/20160719a
http://tinyurl.com/20160719b

Where there is a will, there is a way. The solution is Political which is to take out the decision making from City staff and the City Council, and get County Supervisors to request the excess City Surplus properties. The County can then follow the same Declaration and Donation process used in Campo for the Truax House.

July 20, 2016

I don't think there is any way that the voters in San Diego will go for allowing the County to take over City owned property. Nice try but . . .

July 21, 2016

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