SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, February 17, San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Committee voted 6-1 to recommend 651 Duncan St in Noe Valley for landmark designation. This house was home to activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin for over 50 years.
“I do think this is clearly a home of historic value and needs to have that recognized and honored over time,” District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told the Friends of the Lyon-Martin House campaign.
The 756 square foot cottage sold for $2.25 million in September, according to Zillow. The location, along with its skyline views, make it prime real estate for redevelopment.
“Endless possibilities abound for the right buyer with creative vision,” claims the property’s Zillow listing. “There will never be another opportunity of this kind and upside potential in Noe Valley again. Scarcity of land, especially blessed with unobstructed vistas of the City, makes 651 Duncan truly the last of its kind.”
The buyer, Meredith Jones, spoke against the designation.
“When we brought these two properties back in September, we did not know anything about Phyllis Lyon or Del Martin because their estates did not state anything about the historical significance, and just about the space opportunity,” said Jones. “We do not plan to demolish the house or do anything to impair their memory, but what we would like to do is find a way to honor them, but we’re just normal people, and we don’t have unlimited funds. If the lot is designated as historic, it’s going to be financially unfeasible to make that kind of an investment.”
The lot technically contains two parcels; 649 and 651 Duncan St, both previously owned by Lyon and Martin. 649 is a much larger undeveloped parcel that the couple used as a garden. After hearing from Jones, the Commission voted only to recommend 651 for landmark designation, with some disagreement.
“President Hyland voted against the amended resolution, stating that he was in full support of landmark designation but he did not agree with removing 649 Duncan Street from the proposed designation,” San Francisco Planning Communications Manager Candace Soohoo said.
The recommendation will now go to the Board of Supervisors for vote.