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Truax House Restoration And Apartment Conversion Underway

The Truax House is seen here surrounded by construction scaffolding, Aug. 28,...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: The Truax House is seen here surrounded by construction scaffolding, Aug. 28, 2018.

Two years after the City Council approved the sale of the historic Truax House to a private developer, the former AIDS hospice is now a construction site where 10 studio apartments will soon open to tenants.

Soheil Nakhshab of Nakhshab Development & Design purchased the house and surrounding properties for $2.5 million. Historic preservationists were initially concerned that the sale of the house could lead to its demolition, and ultimately supported Nakhshab's plans for its "adaptive reuse."

Reported by Katie Schoolov

The house at Union Street and and West Laurel Street in Bankers Hill, built in the craftsman style in 1912, was purchased by the city of San Diego in the 1960s as part of its plan to build a road through the nearby Maple Canyon. That plan was never realized, but the city retained ownership of the house and in 1988 permitted its use as an AIDS hospice.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Soheil Nakhshab, right, shows KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen the redevelopment plans inside the Truax House, Aug. 28, 2018.

The house fell into disrepair, and much of its original craftsman features were lost through what Nakshab called "bootlegged" interior renovations. He said he was aiming to provide smaller, more naturally affordable living spaces for a neighborhood that is close to downtown, and was subsidizing one unit for a "very low-income" renter.

"Our goal was, let's create some sort of workforce housing for all demographics to be able to afford and live and enjoy this neighborhood," he said.

RELATED: Truax House, San Diego’s First AIDS Hospice, Clears Development Hurdle

Nakhshab is also adding a community meeting center on the ground floor of the house, where he said he will install a plaque honoring Dr. Brad Truax, a pioneering AIDS activist after whom the house was named.

He is also building four luxury townhomes to the south of the Truax House, and next year will start construction on 26 apartments on vacant land to the north. He said three of those apartments will also be reserved for very low-income renters at prices they can afford.

Urban hiking enthusiasts had also hoped the Truax House sale could spur the extension of the Maple Canyon Trail. Nakhshab said he tried to convince neighboring property owners to provide an easement to allow the trail's extension, but that they declined over fears the trail could attract to homeless encampments.

Nakhshab said he expects the Truax House apartments to be open in February.

The Truax House, a century-old home in Bankers Hill that served as San Diego's first AIDS hospice, is undergoing an extreme makeover that'll change its uses but preserve its history.

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