Academy of Art University sells Russian Hill housing for $16.5M

SF hotelier Natverbhai Patel pays $108K per unit for student dormitory complex

Academy of Art University Sells Russian Hill Housing Complex

A photo illustration of Academy of Art University president Elisa Stephens along with 2550 Van Ness Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)

The Academy of Art University has sold the Da Vinci Villa, a 153-unit student housing complex in Russian Hill, for $16.5 million, The Real Deal has learned. 

The property, located at 2550 Van Ness Avenue, houses the school’s freshman and sophomore students and contains a mix of single, double and triple occupancy rooms, according to the school’s website. The university has owned the asset since 2010 property records show. 

The price works out to less than $108,000 per unit. By comparison, the average San Francisco multifamily traded for around $370,000 per unit, according to a second-quarter report from Calabasas-based brokerage Marcus & Millichap.

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The buyer is local hotelier Natverbhai Patel. Patel was previously in the news for imposing a four-figure rent hike on the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen, which sat at the same parcel as a combination hotel and SRO he owned on 50 Turk Street in the Tenderloin. The eviction of the Catholic group resulted in some celebrity intervention, with self-improvement guru Tony Robbins stepping in to help relocate the charity to the Mission.    

The City of San Francisco previously sued the university, claiming compliance code violations on 33 of the 40 properties it owned across San Francisco. The main allegations against the school related to property permits, with city officials claiming that the university converted properties to student housing without proper authorization. 

In 2020, the two sides finalized a $58 million settlement agreement. A large portion of the funds, at $37.6 million, were earmarked for building affordable housing units. 

As part of the settlement, the Van Ness Avenue site was reclassified as student housing, according to Planning Department documents from 2019. The property was previously known as the Da Vinci Hotel. 
The deal comes just a few months after the university reportedly went under contract to sell the Commodore student dorm building at 825 Sutter Street. The unidentified buyer is reportedly looking to restore that property as a tourist hotel.