Pacific Heights Inn is Out

San Francisco's old midcentury inns and motels are slowly going the way of the dodo.

The Pacific Heights Inn at 1555 Union St. (Image: Google)

In the middle of the Marina District, on a block that has auto garages and dry cleaners scattered between multi-million-dollar apartments, sits an old motel. Built in 1955, the Pacific Heights Inn’s maroon-tan-and-brown exterior is a blast from the past. It’s boxy and Brutalist, with broken letters on its neon vacancy sign. Although the neighborhood has changed around it, the inn has been largely unaltered during the past few decades. Photos on its ancient website show a tidy, organized space, albeit with mismatched bedspreads from room to room and a central parking lot in the middle of the building, classic motor court-style.

But soon, its brick-and-wood exterior will meet the wrecking ball, as Pacific Heights Inn goes the way of many old motels in the city: blasted to pieces and carted off to the dump.

In its place, a shiny new hotel will rise, with 100 rooms and 35 parking spots. Stanton Architecture, which specializes in luxury hotels, has rendered a design. The group is responsible for the Hotel Via in South Beach, and the 230-room 701 Third Street Hotel near AT&T Park.

A rendering of the new hotel. (Stanton Architecture)


And the design is exactly what you’d expect: a white, modern exterior with bay windows and a fun pop of color. It’s not offensive, but it’s also not interesting. Maybe that’s what the neighborhood needs: Just to the left of the site is a grand building with high ceilings that sells agonizingly boring $9,000 round wooden dining tables and $7,000 white sofas.

The hotel project has inched through the Planning Department since 2014. Things have picked up in the past few months, and at this rate it wouldn’t be a big shock if a building permit were issued fairly soon.

By this time next year, it’s possible the charming, beaten-up old inn, which looks like it’s straight out of a Bates Motel episode, will soon be no more.

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