Sometimes you get so used to something that you almost forget it's there. That's the way it seems with the vacant bank building on the corner of Huntington and San Bruno avenues.
The salmon-colored building used to be First National Bank and has sat vacant off and on since the late 1990s.
According to Vice Mayor Rico Medina, all that is known about the building is that the city used the bank when it was open to write checks and maybe for payroll. As the story goes, the building was at one point used as headquarters for a democratic challenger to the now-deceased Congressman Tom Lantos.
Other than that, not that much seems to be known about why the building has been vacant for so long. The owner of the building, Usman Shaikh, could not be reached for comment. According to San Francisco County records, Shaikh is also the owner of Hotel Tropicana, a budget hotel on Valencia Street in the Mission district of San Francisco.
The one possibility of hope for the building lies with the city's plans to incorporate it into the downtown transit corridors plan. The plan includes a vision for turning the property into a three-story, 18,000-square-foot mixed-used development with retail stores on the ground level and homes above. Because it would be located across the street from the future Caltrain station planned to be located near San Bruno Avenue, the property could also be developed into something larger that could serve as a gateway to the downtown area.
In the meantime, Medina said, the City Council is expected to discuss plans soon for the area surrounding the former bank building to address the eyesore being created by vacant properties such as the bank building. Medina said he doesn't want to see the area neglected any longer, and he thinks the city needs to look at all options for that area because it will potentially be an important part of the downtown transformation.
"It's time," he said. "We've got to do something."
Location: 111 San Bruno Ave. West
Vacant since: late 1990s
Owner: Usman Shaikh
Assessed value of property: $1.07 million
Who to contact: Aaron Aknin, San Bruno Community Development Department director, 650-616-7039; Mark Sullivan, San Bruno housing and redevelopment manager, 650-616-7053, firstname.lastname@example.org; comments can also be made by calling the city's Community Development Department at 650-616-7074.