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Online Extra: LGBT youth agency plans revamp of SF Castro building

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LYRIC, the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, is looking to remodel its Castro property to better meet the needs of its LGBT adolescent and young adult clients. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko
LYRIC, the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, is looking to remodel its Castro property to better meet the needs of its LGBT adolescent and young adult clients. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko  

A main provider of services for queer youth in San Francisco plans to revamp its building in the heart of the city's LGBT district in order to better meet the needs of its growing client base.

Since 1993 LYRIC, the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, has owned the former residential building at 127 Collingwood Street. Due to the paint color that adorns its façade, the building is known simply as "the purple house."

It consists of the main building fronting the street and a former garage space built in the backyard of the rectangular lot. Its current configuration means clients and visitors must climb a set of stairs to the first floor in order to gain access to the building.

Aiming to create a more accessible and visible access point, LYRIC is proposing to enclose a portion of the building's driveway by pushing out the ground floor façade slightly to bring it flush with the rest of the building. In front would be a courtyard area.

According to the agency, the renovation will result in a slight alteration to the front portion of the building that improves its look and access. Eliminating the recessed covered entrance of LYRIC's driveway will result in "foliage for all to enjoy," according to the agency's description of the project.

Interior remodels of the main building's first floor and the rear building will allow the agency to provide expanded space for its youth programs, a new kitchen area, and additional spaces where staff can meet privately with clients. The rear yard patio between the two structures will also be reconfigured to provide better access and use of the space.

"We are expanding our work," said LYRIC Executive Director Jodi Schwartz in presenting the plans Thursday to the Castro Merchants business association. "It is less about more numbers but deepening our work."

Founded in 1988, the agency now directly serves more than 500 youth annually and has a budget of more than $2 million. All together LYRIC estimates it reaches more than 2,400 youth a year.

It provides counseling, health care, housing assistance, and employment opportunities to LGBT youth, many of whom come from marginalized backgrounds. According to the agency's Fiscal Year 2017-2018 annual report, 59% of its youth clients are homeless or marginally housed, while 72% are in urgent need of mental health and substance abuse services.

"We need a little bit more space," Schwartz explained to the business owners, who voted Thursday (December 5) to support the renovation plans. "We want to move reception to the street level to better be able to welcome folks in."

The architect on the project, Chad Hamilton of Hamilton Aitken Architects, told the Bay Area Reporter that the city's planning commission should vote on the remodel plans sometime in early 2020. He hopes to secure all the necessary permits and city approvals by the end of next year so work can begin in 2021.

For more information about the remodel, visit a special website LYRIC has created for the project at https://lyricflourishing.org/.

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