Sausalito moves toward renovation of donated house

Sausalito moves toward renovation of donated house

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Sausalito will hire an architect to undertake a $200,000 renovation of a home bequeathed to the city.

The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to direct city staff to find an architect to develop renovation plans for the home. The city will use reserve funds to finance construction.

The home’s former owner, Dorothy Gibson, gifted the one-bedroom, one-bath, 1,200-square-foot home at 429 1/2 Johnson St. to the city after her death. The home is deed restricted and must serve as low- or moderate-income housing for full-time city employees, including first responders.

The council has also considered providing at least one residence as part of a pilot program to a person in transitional housing using the Marin Housing Authority voucher program. That person also would be in an employment program with the city.

Improvements being considered include a first-floor restroom compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; the installation of a bedroom on the second floor; and a possible conversion of a downstairs garage to livable space. The city said that with the improvements the house could accommodate two or three low- to moderate-income apartments. One of the apartments might be considered an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit.

Public Works Director Kevin McGowan said the work could also include updating the electrical system and adding kitchenettes on the lower level of the home. He said ADA updates would also be required on the outside stairs in order for occupancy to be allowed there.

A home inspection performed in April 2021 indicated that additional work might be necessary on the roof, siding, furnace and deck.

The cost of the construction is estimated to be $167,812.50. The development of the plan is expected to take three to six months.

Councilmember Jill Hoffman said she reached out to the Rotary Club, Lions Club and Sausalito Beautiful about how they could assist with construction.

“I would expect we would get help from our community in order to bring construction costs down,” she said.

Vice Mayor Melissa Blaustein urged the council to look into grants or other options to assist with the funding.

The city’s real estate manager, Mike Wagner, said he explored financing options through banks, but the estimated project cost was too low. He said expenses associated with securing financing would be prohibitively costly.

The city estimated market-rate rent at $5,000 to $6,000 per month. Because the home must be low-income, the city expects to receive between $1,650 to $1,980 per month.

Gibson, an author and social worker, died in 2019 at the age of 95.

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