Abel Gonzalez Apartments


1045 Capp St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Residential Population

Low income seniors

Number of Units

21 studios and 9 one-bedroom apartments

Quality affordable senior housing created from historic Mission building

Abel Gonzalez Apartments is a 30-unit apartment complex for seniors built by Mission Housing Development Corporation in 1992.

Design features

The building is a four-story, over basement, reinforced concrete, steel frame structure intended to be fireproof. The 65′ x 115′ rectangular lot is on the east side of Capp Street between 25th and 26th Streets. The original design style was Classical Revival/Industrial, however this style was altered in the transition to an apartment building.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | 1045 Capp St.

“The Mission Exchange” of The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, circa 1927. Photo: public domain.

Now clad in brick and smooth stucco, the primary façade faces west and includes eight structural bays. Decorative features at the primary façade include rusticated pilasters at the building’s corners, sill courses at third-story windows and an intermediate fretted cornice between the third and fourth floor. The primary façade terminates in a bracketed cornice. Windows on the north façade retain the exterior roll-down shades, hood and rails.

A large common area, serves as kitchen, recreation room and space for community meetings. Color coding of each floor assists seniors in identifying their floors. The colors also help reduce the institutional feel often pervasive in multi-unit senior housing.

An important part of Mission history

The building at 1045 Capp St. was erected in 1908 to serve as an exchange building for The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company. After the morning of May 2nd, 1909, the site became known as “The Mission Exchange,” when 2300 Mission District phone customers were connected to the rest of the city. As many as 4000 people would be served within a few weeks.

The building suffered extensive structural damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and was subsequently abandoned as an office building.

Acquisition and rehabilitation

In 1990, Pacific Bell donated the structure to Mission Housing Development Corporation. The conversion to apartments was completed in 1992 at a total cost of $3.6 million. The general contractor for the conversion was ZCON Builders; the architects were Kodama Associates (now Kodama Diseño Architects).

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Loma Prieta earthquake damage

1045 Capp St. suffered extensive structural damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Photo by Phillip Dochow.

The Abel Gonzalez development received a National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Award of Merit in 1993, in what was then known as the Economic Innovation category. The award recognized affordable housing developed “in an innovative manner,” i.e. creative financing, public/private partnerships, mixed income developments, adaptive reuse, or special needs housing.

Funding programs

The combination of scarce public dollars with valuable private resources created new, much needed housing units in the Mission District.

Abel Gonzalez Apartments were developed using and operates with HUD 202 funds, and monies from the SF Mayor’s Office of Housing-Hotel Tax Fund. Rental costs of all the units at Abel Gonzalez are supported by HUD-Section 8.

Supportive resident services

Mission Housing Resident Services staff provides supportive services, in-house case-management and referral to a full range of partner agencies. Residents also participate in a monthly calendar of activities and community meetings.

A historic namesake

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Abel Gonzalez Apartments

Phillip Dochow of Mission Housing (right) confers with a rep from ZCON Builders during the conversion of Abel Gonzalez Apartments. Photo by Jim Dennis.

Abel Gonzalez was a Mission District activist and head of the Centro Social Obrero caucus of the Building and Construction Workers Union, Local 261.  The Obreros provided English-language classes, citizenship programs and social services for Spanish-speaking union members.

Gonzalez was also engaged in the Mission Coalition Organization, also known as the MCO, a grassroots alliance of several dozen community groups. In its heyday, the multi-issue body of more than 12,000 people became the democratic voice of 70,000 Mission District residents. Mission Housing Development Corporation is one of several progeny organizations of MCO activism.

Information from SF Planning, FoundSF, LocalWiki and PTM – The Pacific Telephone Magazine, Volumes 1-2 contributed to this post

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