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San Diego City Council OKs Sale Of Truax House

Photo caption:

Photo by Katie Schoolov

The vacant Truax House, San Diego's first AIDS hospice, Feb. 24, 2016.

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved the sale of the Truax House, which once served as the city's first AIDS hospice, and an adjacent house to a private developer for $2.5 million.

Nakhshab Design & Development, the developer, submitted the highest bid for the property. The developer says the plan is to restore the house from its current disrepair; make part of the house available for public use; build new housing units on the site, including 10 percent to 15 percent affordable units; and work with nearby homeowners to provide an easement that would extend access to the Maple Canyon hiking trail.

RELATED: Once An AIDS Hospice, Dilapidated Truax House Faces Uncertain Future

When the sale first came before a City Council committee in February, several speakers expressed fears that the house could eventually be demolished.

Councilman Todd Gloria said the buyer had managed to incorporate an array of interests, including historical preservation, into his development plans.

"I wasn't confident we could get there months and months ago when this item was brought forward," Gloria said. "I think what we have before the council — I think everyone can see — is something that is a win for absolutely everyone involved."

Soheil Nakhshab, the development firm's founder and CEO, told council members he wanted to honor the house's history and the memory of Dr. Brad Traux, the gay physician and early AIDS pioneer after whom the house was named in 1988.

Photo credit: Lambda Archives

Dr. Brad Truax, right, speaks at a fundraising event in this undated photo.

"I'm not interested in creating something just for a quick payday and moving on," he said. "I'm all about creating something of substance that we can all enjoy. (The Truax House) lends itself perfectly to that."

In a parallel development, the Truax House, which is in Bankers Hill, was granted historical designation on Thursday by the city's Historical Resources Board. The report petitioning the board for that designation was prepared by Nakhshab.

Council President Sherri Lightner said the sale was a good example of a private developer doing the right thing and listening to the community. Mayor Kevin Faulconer quickly released a statement praising the council's action and Gloria's leadership on the issue.

"Today's vote will help us commemorate an important chapter in both LGBT and San Diego history," the statement said. "Not only will the Truax house be preserved under new ownership, but I've directed that proceeds from the sale go toward our goal of building a permanent memorial to honor Doctor Truax and all San Diegans who have been affected by HIV and AIDS."

The proceeds from the property's sale have to be returned to the city's gas tax fund, so it cannot be spent directly on building an AIDS memorial. But Faulconer, whose wife is co-chair of the AIDS Memorial Task Force, has said his office intends to find a way to redirect funding from other sources to enable a donation to the AIDS memorial fund.

Video by Katie Schoolov

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