Noe Valley Voice June 1997

Zephyr Has Eye on a Second Story

By Anne Gates

"We're very crowded down here!" says Ilse Cordoni, sales manager at Zephyr Real Estate. The office is so crowded, in fact, that Zephyr is thinking about expanding to the second floor of its building on 24th Street between Noe and Castro.

Zephyr moved into 4040 24th St. in 1993. The property was built in the early 1970s and had been home to various banks until Zephyr took over. (A sturdy vault still exists, which is now being used as the world's safest conference room.)

The building's original blueprints showed plans for three floors, but only the ground floor was ever finished. An unfinished second floor currently exists, hidden from view from the street by a facade.

The real estate firm now wants to finish off and enlarge the second floor, plus add a deck on the back of the property. "Expansion would give us 2,000 square feet of new office space and room for more computers," Cordoni says. "And the proj-ect would not change the facade at all."

Zephyr would increase its occupancy slightly, and that means a few more cars in the area. "Parking is a major neighborhood concern, and I understand that," Cordoni says.

Currently, 30 to 35 employees are in the office each day. However, a new second floor would enable some part-time employees to work full time. But Cordoni insists, "We're not talking about doubling the number of agents."

An internal staircase would join the two floors, and skylights would probably be installed on the roof. The construction project would not be a huge structural change, she says, since the building was designed to have more than one floor anyway. In any case, Zephyr's employees want as little disruption as possible.

Behind the Zephyr building is a narrow walkway about 70 feet long. Right now the space is overgrown with weeds and almost inaccessible, Cordoni says. Zephyr would like to add a deck in that rear space, to make it usable for staff. The realtors also hope the patio area will be significantly more attractive to the Elizabeth Street residents whose back yards abut the property.

So far, the ideas are just detailed dreams, Cordoni says, but she is hopeful that construction might begin next spring. Zephyr still needs to obtain engineering reports, a cost analysis, full architectural plans, and a conditional use permit.

To test the waters, she and Zephyr's owner, Bill Drypolcher, made the rounds of the neighborhood groups in April and May. They spoke with Friends of Noe Valley, the East & West of Castro Club, and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

The Friends urged them to write to their immediate neighbors, so Drypolcher sent off a letter last month.

Meanwhile, Cordoni says residents and merchants who are curious to see the plans in person are welcome to stop by the Zephyr office and look at a set of preliminary sketches and photos.