Hundreds mourned when Lucky Penny, the famous old diner on the corner of Masonic Avenue and Geary Boulevard, shuttered in December of 2015. The 24-hour greasy spoon dated back to the 1960s, when it was called Copper Penny Family Coffee Shop, and served many a family who walked over from Kaiser Hospital down the street. But in a city with a crazy building boom, the one-story diner and its generous parking lot were a ticking time bomb, and SoMa Development Partners lit the fuse.
Since its closure the space has stood vacant — though clever shoppers at the neighboring Trader Joe’s have discovered its parking lot — and now we know why. The original plan to construct seven floors containing 21 two- to four- bedroom apartments have been “supersized” as Socketsite (who discovered the increase) states. In 2015 the measly 21 units were replaced by a plan to build an eight-story mixed-use building with 98 units. But next month, the developers will request approval for a much bigger building, that would contain 10 stories with 121 apartments over a 2,200-square-foot retail space.
In an unusual twist, the parking has decreased from 68 spots in the original design to seven in the new one. This plan ties in nicely with the Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project, which has currently turned the Avenue into a bumpy hellscape — but once completed, should offer residents a smoother, safer corridor with improved bus service and new bike lanes.
And with 30 percent (36 units) dedicated as “affordable,” this building is fairly likely to win the approval of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors— despite being three stories taller than what’s zoned for the space.
We’ll keep you updated on if the plans are approved — and when the temporary addition to Trader Joe’s parking lot will disappear.