Renovation in full swing at vacant building on Telegraph Avenue

Benjamin Shenouda/Staff

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Renovation and construction are now in full swing at a building at the corner of Haste Street and Telegraph Avenue, which housed Cody’s Books before it closed in 2006.

Located at 2454 Telegraph Ave., the property is slated to be used as a “multiconcept” food and entertainment venue with retail, dining and a nighttime entertainment area, according to David Avila, the owner of the design firm that worked on plans for the renovation.

The building, which will be called the Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media, was previously home to Cody’s Books, a bookstore known for its notable clientele, including Allen Ginsberg and Salman Rushdie. The store closed eight years ago and was later purchased by current owner Ken Sarachan.

“We are excited to see anything happening,” said Doris Moskowitz, owner of Moe’s Books, which is located on the same block as the property. “It’s been too long that nothing has happened.”

The building will include a full-service restaurant and bar and will sell “anachronistic” books, records and tapes. Additionally, a performance space is planned to showcase various events, such as poetry readings and music performances.

The records will be moved from Rasputin Music across the street, a music store also owned by Sarachan, according to an item he submitted to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board.

He also owns the vacant lot on the next block and Blondie’s Pizza down the street.

Sarachan, who typically doesn’t speak with the media, could not be reached for comment on the project.

According to Moskowitz, although Sarachan had purchased the vacant building about five years ago, renovation did not begin until late August.

The firm in charge of the project, Avila Design, submitted a proposal to the Zoning Adjustments Board, which was passed in May of last year.

Planned renovations included removing trees in front of the building to make space for a flower kiosk, which Moskowitz said upset several residents. Additionally, an office area will be added to the second floor.

According to a city staff report, Sarachan said Mad Monk would be a “different kind of venue” and would not “provide a club-like atmosphere similar to Pappy’s or Kip’s.”

Moskowitz said she believed students would appreciate a venue that stayed open later at night, which could replace trips into downtown San Francisco.

For Jon Wobber, owner of Shakespeare & Company Books, located on the same block as the property, the project is a “mixed blessing.” He said that while the introduction of a new bookstore would create more competition, it would also attract more people to the area who are seeking independent bookstores.

In recent years, Telegraph Avenue has experienced a downturn in visitors, according to Moskowitz.

But Wobber said “a lot more needs to be done” for the Telegraph area, and simply introducing a new building will not be enough for improvement.

“It’s been such a tough period in this neighborhood,” Moskowitz said. “We just want change.”

Contact Adrienne Shih at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @adrienneshih.