Vendome’s manager can relate to residents 

Two years to the day after he got clean and sober, San Mateo native Craig Patton was handed a chance to give back to the community that helped him recover from addiction.

As the new resident manager of the Vendome Hotel, Patton — an alumnus and employee of the nonprofit Shelter Network — will be working to convert the 111-year-old hotel into housing and support services for low-income downtown residents.

He moved into the hotel Thursday to mark its formal takeover by the city’s Redevelopment Agency, which bought it Jan. 2 for $1.8 million from Ted Sheehan, whose grandfather helped build it.

"It’s nice to know I can give something back," Patton said.

Not only is Patton a graduate of Project Ninety, the residential recovery program across Second Avenue from the Vendome, but he is a lifelong resident of the city who knows the area and its struggles.

"If 250 people walk by on the street, I’ll probably know at least 75," he said.

The single-room-occupancy hotel has 10 residents, who may need to temporarily move while the upstairs area is renovated to house 12 to 15 at a time.

Patton spent much of Thursday moving into his ground-floor apartment. Once a barbershop attached to the building, the brown and tan tiling in what will be his office is still marked with rings from heavy barber chairs.

By summer, the Community Development Department hopes to be renovating the old building, giving Shelter Network and Samaritan House a place to meet with prospective residents. There have also been discussions about moving the Workers Resource Center into the building to consolidate city services in that location.

"It’s solving a number of problems at once, and in the long term, I think that the site has great development potential," Mayor Jack Matthews said. He said he’d like to see the building expanded in coming years, to shelter more residents or house more service agencies.

Neighborhood Improvement and Housing specialist Heather Stewart said she doesn’t expect discussions of redevelopment of the site to begin before April.

"The work of purchasing the building is finally done. Now the work of helping people begins," she said.

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