For eight long years, the derelict Hibernia Bank building was the tarnished jewel in the Tenderloin's crown of thorns. The grandiose structure, barred off like a crime scene, was reduced to playing host for teeming crowds of drinking, drugged-up derelicts, a number of whom were dealing drugs or tossing soup kitchen food to the pigeons — who coated the building with thick layers of guano.
But all that has changed — by half, at least. “Right now, it's like half a vacant storefront — that alone relieves half the problems,” says the Tenderloin station's veteran, been-there, done-that Captain Gary Jimenez.
After years of gathering dust, criminality, and birdshit, the Hibernia — at 1 Jones Street — was sold last September. Enough time went by without the new owner stepping forward that locals began speculating the $3.9 million sale was just an insider deal gauging the market by the previous owner — His Holiness Grandmaster Professor Thomas Lin-Yun, the founder and supreme leader of the contemporary Black Sect Tantric Buddhism at its fourth stage (we are not making this up — the man who sold Feng Shui to America owned a building that contributed to a neighborhood's chaotic and criminal nature. Ironic, no?). In October of last year, however, The Dolmen Property Group announced that it was the buyer — and has since communicated to neighborhood groups that it plans to sink $17 million into restoring the 117-year-old building and bringing it up to code.
Since October, workers tromping in and out of the building — and, even more importantly, power-washings of the building's exterior — have discouraged loitering.