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San Diego Selects Buyer For Historic Truax House

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

San Diego Selects Buyer For Historic Truax House
City staffers have selected a local developer as their preferred buyer for the Truax House, which served as the city's first AIDS hospice. The developer has pledged to restore the decaying property.

San Diego city staffers have selected local architecture and development firm Nakhshab Development & Design as the preferred buyer for the dilapidated Truax House.

The selection was made public Wednesday morning when the City Council's agendas for next week were posted online. The council will decide whether to accept the firm's bid of $2.5 million, the highest of four bids, and its development plans at the council meeting Tuesday.

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

Soheil Nakhshab, the firm's founder and CEO, said he was relieved to have been selected by the city, and that he had spent significant time meeting with community organizations to discuss what they wanted to see after the property's sale.

"We tried to do whatever we could in our power to be the right buyer in order to help preserve a piece of history, and also to do something interesting for the community," he said.

The firm's development plans include a restoration of the 1912 house, which became the city's first AIDS hospice in the late 1980s as the disease was decimating the gay community. Several historical preservationists had feared a sale of the property could ultimately result in its demolition, and the memory of the house's role in city history could be lost.

Chuck Kaminski, a board member of the LGBT historical group Lambda Archives, said he wants to see a more detailed presentation of the development plans before deciding whether they adequately preserve the historic house in Bankers Hill.

"I think the intent ... seems reasonable and positive," Kaminski said. "There's still a lot of dialogue that will have to go back and forth."

The value of the Truax House property, which includes an adjacent Spanish-style home occupied by renters, was appraised at $2.47 million. Nakhshab Development & Design says it would demolish the adjacent property and replace it with a mixed-use building that would include a coffee shop, office and apartments, 10 percent of which would be reserved for very low income residents.

Nakhshab said he has experience redeveloping aging properties while maintaining their historical integrity. His development of the "Sofia Lofts" in Golden Hill, which restored a historic home and added surrounding apartments, earned an "Orchid" award in 2015 from the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

The City Council voted in April to place the Truax House property on the market. The potential sale elicited interest from a group raising money to build an AIDS memorial in San Diego.

Proceeds from the house's sale have to be deposited into the city's gas tax fund. However, Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office has indicated it would work to find a way to shift money to enable a donation to the AIDS memorial fund.

The Truax House is named after Brad Truax, a local gay physician and early AIDS activist. He died of complications from AIDS in 1988, months after the house's naming.

City staffers are also recommending the Truax House be given protection as a historical asset — a process that was initiated by Nakhshab. The city's Historical Resources Board decides on Thursday whether to accept their recommendation.