AKA: San Francisco Turkish Baths, Tenderloin, San Francisco, CA; Starcity

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1910

4 stories, total floor area: 17,340 sq. ft.

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229 Ellis Street
Tenderloin, San Francisco, CA 94102

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This one-time bath house was to be turned into a dormitory for adults by Starcity by the Fall of 2018. The building contained 52 living units, with shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities on each floor. Each kitchen could be used by between 8 and 15 renters.

Building History

The San Francisco Turkish Baths occupied this building into the 1980s. It stood vacant for about a decade after the baths closed. The building then served as medical offices, and a developer subsequently hoped to carve the four-story building into 11 luxury condominiums.

When this failed, it was purchased by the real estate development company, Starcity. Its founders, Jon Dishotsky (born c. 1984) and Mohammad Sakrani (born c. 1988), attracted Silicon Valley venture capital by pitching the idea of creating dormitory spaces for people making middle incomes, from $40,000-$90,000, who were struggling to pay rents in San Francisco. According to the New York Times, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco averaged $3,300 a month in 03/2018. In contrast, Starcity offered renters the option of a tiny 130 to 220-square-foot dormitory room for much less, from about $1,400 to $2,400 per month, including utilities and WiFi. (Additional costs included $40 monthly to do your wash and $130 weekly for regular maid service.) Most of Starcity's properties did not offer private bathrooms, and had shared communal living spaces, much like a college living experience.

Starcity, by 03/2018, had acquired 3 buildings in San Francisco, with a total of 36 units. The company had obtained $18.9 million from venture capitalists, and it was in the process of buying twelve more buildings at the start of 03/2018. According to the New York Times, "Starcity said it was on track to have hundreds of units open around the San Francisco Bay Area this year, and thousands by 2019." (See Nellie Bowles, "Dorm Living for Professionals Comes to San Francisco," New York Times, published 03/04/2018, accessed 03/05/2018.) Renovating existing properties proved preferable to erecting new apartment towers due to complex regulations and neighborhood resistance in San Francisco. "Because of arcane permitting rules and neighborhood associations that push against new developments, building new housing in San Francisco is painfully slow. But workers keep flooding the city, so roommates jam tighter into existing housing, already sharing bathrooms and renting living rooms as bedrooms. Mr. Dishotsky said he decided to build for what was already the city’s reality." (See Nellie Bowles, "Dorm Living for Professionals Comes to San Francisco," New York Times, published 03/04/2018, accessed 03/05/2018.)

According to the San Francisco County Assessor, the building sold on 12/10/2014 for $3.5 million.

Building Notes

The exterior of the building at 229 Ellis Street had a masonry facing and a front facade divided in to three bays. Arched Diocletian (thermal) windows, derived from Roman baths lit the upper portion of the first floor. Roundels depicted the star and crescent moon symbol of the country of Turkey.

In 2018, the building contained 57 rooms and 7 bathrooms, for a total of 17,340 square feet, and occupied a 4,537.5-square-foot lot. It measured 82.5 feet deep in depth.


Starcity spent 2017 and 2018 renovating this former bath house into over 50 one-room apartments. (An article in the San Francisco Chronicle noted that the building would contain 56 apartments, a later New York Times article put the number of living units at 52. See J.K. Dineen, "Starcity turning commercial buildings into group housing," San Francisco Chronicle, published 06/03/2017, accessed 03/05/2018.) Part of this renovation including digging down a level and a half to create a basement lounge.

San Francisco County Assessor Number: 0331/001A

PCAD id: 21839