The proposed Trinity Plaza (Image Source: arquitectonica.com)
The proposed Trinity Plaza (Image Source: arquitectonica.com)
For decades, developer Angelo Sangiacamo has been trying to re-develop a mid-market plot of land which currently houses the Trinity Plaza apartment building (which he converted from a motor lodge in 1977). Under his latest proposal, 360 outdated units would be razed and replaced with a modern 1,900 unit development, 50,000+ square feet of street level retail, and 60,000+ square feet of public open space (all designed by Arquitectonica).

In August of 2006, the city Planning Commission signed off on the [Trinity Plaza] deal . . . But on Nov. 7, to the surprise of Sangiacomo and [Chris] Daly, two members of the Board of Supervisors, Jake McGoldrick and Sophie Maxwell, succeeded in persuading some of their board colleagues, at least temporarily, to block height and density amendments to the city’s general zoning and development plan that would have allowed the project to go forward. (SFGate)

Of the 1,900 proposed units, 360 units would be set aside for the current Trinity Plaza tenants (and would remain at rent controlled rates for the life of the tenants) and an additional 185 units would be rented at below-market rates. And needless to say, the development would have a major impact on the revitalization of the entire mid-market neighborhood.
More Mid-Market Development And Definition [SocketSite]
Arquitectonica [arquitectonica.com]
Trinity Plaza Apartment Ratings [apartmentratings.com]
Trinity deal hits a snag [SFGate]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Anonymous

    ugh. Just build the dang thing!

  2. Posted by Dan

    McGoldrick and Maxwell should have let Daly work out a compromise with the property owner. It seems that McGoldrick and Maxwell are trying to stop the construction of any market rate housing that doesn’t benefit them in some way. By comparison, Daly has been a pragmatist.
    It’s a shame, because 2000 more rental apartments could increase vacancy rates enough to help slow rent increases citywide. Plus 3000 residents at 8th and Market makes so much sense in terms of transit-friendly smart growth and helping local small business.

  3. Posted by Dude

    Reading this in the Chronicle this morning seriously angered me. Basic economics here: want to make housing more affordable? Build more of it.
    Plus ANYTHING would be better than the eyesore that’s there now – even the residents of Trinity want this built. And I, for one, really like the artist’s rendering.

  4. Posted by Anonymous

    Wow, for once it isn’t Daly that is causing the roadblock to much needed development in the city.
    With all of the apartments that have been converted to condos over the past couple years, this type of development is sorely needed.
    If any of you on the city council are reading this, please note that your constituents do not agree with you holding up on development. Just stop holding these things up and get on with these developments, which will greatly help the city.

  5. Posted by Anonymous

    “Reading this in the Chronicle this morning seriously angered me. Basic economics here: want to make housing more affordable? Build more of it.”
    This statement is vastly oversimplified. Generally speaking, yes, if supply increases enough to offset demand, prices will settle at an equilibrium price that the market should be able to bear.
    However, that said, we all know that even with every single project on the table as of today, demand in the city will always outpace supply to the point where prices will still be relatively unaffordable to the average person.
    But….I still agree that this project should be given the green light if for no other reason than I am a big believer in the free market. Aside from requiring that a certain number of units be classified as BMRs, I don’t think this project should be treated any differently than the Infinity, 1Rincon, Millennium Tower, etc.
    This situation is really just a metaphor for my problem generally with having to live with the political ideologs in this city who wouldn’t know what practicality looked like if it hit them upside the head like a 2X4. For these SF supervisors, the “invisible hand” really is invisible.

  6. Posted by Dan

    These units will be small–mostly studios–and located at mid-Market. And they will be rentals. So the “market-rate” units will be providing housing for average folks– they’re a totally different animal than the 1Rincon, Infinity, and Millenium condos.

  7. Posted by Anonymous

    Agreed that many city approval processes are bass-ackwards and this appears to be other supes meddling in a done deal, but…isn’t the developer trying to get a variance to build an apartment building larger than the zoning allows? I don’t know the details of the size of the site, it’s zoning and how many units would be allowed under a typical reading of the zoning code – does anyone? My understanding is that the supes are giving him the extra density in exchange for protecting the existing rent controlled tenants. The real question here is – how much bigger of a building are they allowing him to build than if they didn’t do this deal for the existing tenants? If they are giving him a huge variance (like 500 more units than typically allowed), the developer is getting a good deal as the 350 rent controlled units revert to market rate units once the rent controlled tenant vacates (eventually).

  8. Posted by Anonymous

    “These units will be small–mostly studios–and located at mid-Market. And they will be rentals. So the “market-rate” units will be providing housing for average folks– they’re a totally different animal than the 1Rincon, Infinity, and Millenium condos.”
    So who exactly would these rental units be marketed toward? I would never ever rent an apt. in this neighborhood absent a massive overhaul. Mid-market is a scary place to be.

  9. Posted by Anonymous

    Not that I would want to live in that area now, but its not the first decent apartment complex in the area (Fox Plaza is there now). With the development of the new federal building and SOMA grand, the area is already beginning to transform. Also, with the new mall built, the nicer part of downtown is starting to spread out towards that area. Granted, it won’t be as nice as the embarcadero area of SOMA, but it will improve and this project can become the catalyst.

  10. Posted by Anonymous

    I would love for the Mid-Market area to undergo a “Eastern Soma/South Beach” type transformation. There’s so much potential in that area.
    But you would really need an aggressive push to clean up the area and, I’m sorry to say, drive out the negative elements from the area before any significant improvement in the area could ever occur. For people that have lived in the South/Beach/Rincon Hill/Transbay area over the last 5 years, it’s been an interesting transformation. The area gradually continues to clean up and once phase I of the Transbay project is complete in 2014, that area should be pretty much transformed into a flourishing modern urban residential neighborhood. It would be nice to see the same thing happen in the Mid-Market area.

  11. Posted by Michael

    “you would really need an aggressive push to clean up the area”
    An additional 2000 (market rate) tenants in a swanky new development combined with the 1000 or so investors in the new mid-market condo developments would go a long way.
    And with regard to the developer getting variances and a good deal…good for him. And even better for the neighborhood and every resident of San Francisco once this thing gets built!

  12. Posted by Anonymous

    I disagree that this area is scary but of course that’s subjective. Somewhat dirty, yes. Homeless people, uh huh, tell me where they aren’t. I’m a single female who lives right around the corner from this proposed development and I’ve never felt threatened. It’ll be downright fabulous with more development though, which will happen slowly but surely. The location itself is excellent.

  13. Posted by Anonymous

    “I disagree that this area is scary but of course that’s subjective. Somewhat dirty, yes. Homeless people, uh huh, tell me where they aren’t.”
    I’m usually not too worried about the homeless people on the safety front. They are more of an aesthetic issue. However, I was mugged in early 2005 on the corner of Beale and Mission at 7:15 pm on a weeknight and I personally consider that area to be much less scary than Mid-Market, but that’s just me. If you say it’s safe to live there and you actually live there, then you certainly have more credibility than I do.

  14. Posted by Anonymous

    “An additional 2000 (market rate) tenants in a swanky new development combined with the 1000 or so investors in the new mid-market condo developments would go a long way.”
    Agreed, but how do you qualify to be able to snag one of these units, or is it just first come, first served? What I’m getting at is, would the potential residents in this development truly bring in a “swank” factor? It’s not entirely clear to me, so that’s why I’m asking.
    This is going to sound bad, but even though I am temporarily a renter in the South Beach area, I’ve never really thought of “renters” as potential candidates for increasing “swank.” Am I completely nuts? Please educate me, sincerely.

  15. Posted by Anonymous

    He did get a varience to build what was thought to be a done deal. Was going to keep the 350 or so existing rent controlled units rent control, and the additional units would be 12% BMR is how I understand it. And post approval the supes raised the BMR requirement to 15%. This is a more intense use for the site than is now zoned for. But what about the Fox Plaxa across the street? The damage is done in terms of high rises at this intercection. If there is anywhere you should build more units it is on the best transit line in the city. From my vantage point, McTic and Sophie are out of line on this one. Just like the legislation that McTic sponsored and was thrown out in court. Nice to know how these guys find ways to waste time and money.

  16. Posted by Anonymous

    “Nice to know how these guys find ways to waste time and money.”
    I agree with this completel, but why is it that we can’t get enough votes in this city to bring some new blood onto the board to actually get things done. Who are these constituents that think the status quo is hunky-dory? It truly baffles me.
    I live in District 6 and voted for Rob Black but he lost by a landslide. Who are these people that think he’s doing such a great job?

  17. Posted by Anonymous
  18. Posted by Anonymous

    “I live in District 6 and voted for Rob Black but he lost by a landslide. Who are these people that think he’s doing such a great job?”
    I.e., meaning Chris Daly. This guy is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with SF politics.

  19. Posted by Anonymous

    Chris Daly is not blocking this project. Read the article before using this issue as a point to slam Daly on.

  20. Posted by Anonymous

    No, he is not blocking this particular development, but he shouldn’t be excused for his other anti-development tactics. I do agree that many SF residents are still in their own provincial universe and that’s why they’re so opposed to new developments.
    If creating a city of new high rises is such a bad thing, then how do you explain Vancouver? Most of the areas where high rises were built there were run down/industrial. Now, 15 years later, it has a thriving downtown residential core of over 100,000 residents, and counting. I wish that people in SF would take a lesson from Vancouver and realize that new can be a good thing.

  21. Posted by Anonymous

    Daly says the deal is still on track. He will get it done…I kind of believe him. Peskin and him seem to have something going, and everyone wants that eyesore gone. And it would mean more $s and BMR units for SF so these guys will get out the way in due time. They are in no rush, they need their time in the Chronicle. Certain politicians want to be able to go to their perceived constituents and show how hard they fought with moneyed SF elite and got BMR units and fees and $s for tenant relocation. Ahhh, representative democracy.

  22. Posted by Dan

    “I’ve never really thought of renters as potential candidates for increasing swank.”
    The point of these apartments is not to make mid-Market “swank.” They will provide housing for the average San Franciscan renter. Because the neighborhood is on the edgy side, my guess is that these apartments will appeal to younger renters, the type who now rent in the TenderNob, Lower Haight/Hayes Valley, and the Western Addition (excuse me, “NOPA.”) They will be drawn to the rentals’ proximity to BART and MUNI trains, to Civic Center culture, SOMA nightlife, Union Square shopping, and downtown jobs. Mid-Market will never be South Beach, nor should it be, but 3000 additional renters will add activity to the sidewalks that will make the nieghborhood safer.

  23. Posted by Anonymous

    “Chris Daly is not blocking this project. Read the article before using this issue as a point to slam Daly on.”
    No need to read the article. I live in Daly’s district and I don’t care for him for many more reasons than just development issues. He’s an impractical far-left leaning politician, simple as that. And this is not a democrat-republican thing either. Just look at Rob Black. Newsom support him for election in ’06.

  24. Posted by Anonymous

    “The point of these apartments is not to make mid-Market “swank.” They will provide housing for the average San Franciscan renter. Because the neighborhood is on the edgy side, my guess is that these apartments will appeal to younger renters, the type who now rent in the TenderNob, Lower Haight/Hayes Valley, and the Western Addition (excuse me, “NOPA.”) They will be drawn to the rentals’ proximity to BART and MUNI trains, to Civic Center culture, SOMA nightlife, Union Square shopping, and downtown jobs. Mid-Market will never be South Beach, nor should it be, but 3000 additional renters will add activity to the sidewalks that will make the nieghborhood safer.”
    Even though I raised the question that was answered above, I definitely want this poster’s prediction to come true. It would be very good for the city if this happens.

  25. Posted by etslee

    I grew up in Vancouver and during my teens, I couldn’t wait to leave. Now I live in SF, and Vancouver seems so much further ahead in terms of what great urban design can do for a city. The downtown is thriving with businesses, commerce and residents. A new Skytrain extension is going through downtown to connect the airport (and perhaps UBC?). There is real excitement about the future and the 2010 Olympic Games. Here in SF, it seems to be stuck in the “glory” of the past. Also, the loss of our potential Olympic bid seemed to highlight the differences.
    I visited a friend over Xmas who just moved into a beautiful condo overlooking downtown with a fab roof deck, and paid in the 350K range! Now I wish I could move back…

  26. Posted by Anonymous

    “I visited a friend over Xmas who just moved into a beautiful condo overlooking downtown with a fab roof deck, and paid in the 350K range!”
    That’s funny….here that same 350K would buy you just the fab roof deck, but nothing else. If you’re an outdoorsy sort of person, that might work out fine.
    What are Vancouver’s politics like compared SF? I have a feeling that that’s like asking what’s Mars like compared to Venus.

  27. Posted by Michael

    Sorry, “swanky” was supposed to describe the building and not necessarily the tenants. Based on the design I’d guess that target rents for the 1,400+ non-rent-controlled units aren’t cheap. And 2000+ new neighborhood residents that could afford market rate rents, and would most likely bring disposable income to local restaurants/businesses, would be a boon to the neighborhood.

  28. Posted by Anonymous

    I happen to live in a luxury apartment complex and can attest that most residents are young, successful professionals and that it does create a “swanky” vibe around the neighborhood. Now, this may not be to the same extent as you will see in buyers at Millenium, One Rincon, Infinity, 4 Seasons, etc, but Trinity Plaza should help to dramatically improve the neighborhood.

  29. Posted by Anonymous

    “I happen to live in a luxury apartment complex and can attest that most residents are young, successful professionals and that it does create a “swanky” vibe around the neighborhood. Now, this may not be to the same extent as you will see in buyers at Millenium, One Rincon, Infinity, 4 Seasons, etc, but Trinity Plaza should help to dramatically improve the neighborhood.”
    I didn’t mean to stir up a hornet’s nest by suggesting that if this development wasn’t exactly like Infinity, 1Rincon, etc. that it wouldn’t really make a difference in terms of improving the area. I was just making the comparison on the basis of how the board of supes should view this project in terms of improving the city overall.
    If this poster’s hypothesis proves out, then I agree that it would definitely improve the area. I think a young, hip crowd is probably the correct target resident. Someone who isn’t completely freaked out by the prospect of living somewhere that is “transitional” or, to pay tribute to one of my favorite posts of all time, living in a neighborhood that is “sub-optimal.”

  30. Posted by Anonymous

    Regarding an earlier post about the zoning variance and Fox Plaza, that is a good point. If nothing else, the skyline around that part of Market St is completely unbalanced with the horrific Fox Plaza, so the Arquitectonica building would help to connect the new Federal bldg and SoMa Grand visual landscape. As far as living density – how could more be a bad thing? All the transit is right there! That’s exactly where there should be density! If Sups Maxwell & McGoldrick are worried about too many concessions given to the developer, this project really benefits so many more people than just the residents. Let it go. Or if this is a ploy to get back at Daly, shame on them for wasting everyone’s time.

  31. Posted by Mike

    I grew up in Vancouver and during my teens, I couldn’t wait to leave. Now I live in SF, and Vancouver seems so much further ahead in terms of what great urban design can do for a city. The downtown is thriving with businesses, commerce and residents. A new Skytrain extension is going through downtown to connect the airport (and perhaps UBC?). There is real excitement about the future and the 2010 Olympic Games. Here in SF, it seems to be stuck in the “glory” of the past. Also, the loss of our potential Olympic bid seemed to highlight the differences.
    This is right on. I just got back from Vancouver, and stayed in a friends condo in Yaletown. The place was parking lots and run down buildings 10 years ago. Now within a 5 minute walk there’s 3 super markets (nice ones, not safeways), tons of great restaurants and cafes, parks, the waterfront, etc. SF is not even in the same league. And it’s a little pricey for Vancouverites, but nowhere near as bad as SF.

  32. Posted by Zig

    I doubt the density bonus was much of an issue. Most areas around market and downtown are either being upzoned or its in the works. The Planning Dept wants more density around market
    This really and truly is looking a gift horse in the mouth. The only reason the owner can even put up with these delays and conditions is because he owns the land outright. Think how many developments we miss out on with normal developers who need certainty and profit. And they are going to be apartments! When was the last time someone built a significant number of apartments in this city! And he is letting the rent control people stay. Jesus
    More and more it seems in the context of SF at least Daly understands how to make a deal and McGoldrick and Maxwell seem to just be irrational. Case in point was Maxwell trying to rewrite the Eastern Neighborhoods inclusionary housing req. to 60%. Her only aly was McGoldrick. Why does the seeminly conservative Richmond support this guy?

  33. Posted by zzzzzzzzz

    I hope Sangiacomo walks away from this rather than agreeing to more concessions. It sets a terrible precedent for the city and a developer to come to an agreement, only to have the city renege on its commitments at the urging a few unhinged ideologues. Would I like to see this site improved? Of course, but not at the price of setting a horrendous precedent for future development policy.

  34. Posted by zig

    And as someone else mentioned I wonder if this isn’t pay back to Daly

  35. Posted by Anonymous

    Rent control at this level is ridiculous.

  36. Posted by Anonymous

    “Rent control at this level is ridiculous.”
    Bingo! Because unless BMR requirements are going to apply to a large amount of the units, they are still going to be able to charge market-based rent at the time that the units are initially occupied, but those rents could still end up be very high considering that this complex is intended to be luxury.
    What a circle jerk this whole approval process is. I’m so glad that my tax dollars are at work to “protect me” from the big bad developers out there.

  37. Posted by james

    What are McGoldrick and Maxwell really trying to achieve? Don’t they realize that 1,900 rentals hitting the market is really going to take pressure off the overall rental rates in the City. Risking the whole project by adding a few more more BMR units after the deal was already agreed upon smacks of short sited politics. Call or write their offices to voice complaints. It seems that only the shrill voices are heard in this city.

  38. Posted by Invented

    The moronic supervisors are acting as if density is ONLY good for developers. Sheesh. What doesn’t M & M get?
    If they insist on yet again tripping the developer here, I say let the developer build an additional 10 floors in exchange for a higher % of below-rate units.
    Besides, the (stunning) building is far too squat for the size of the lot and this particular location — and would look most incredible if it weren’t so cautiously and safely mid-rise.

  39. Posted by CameronRex

    I wouldn’t mind seeing it go higher. Anything to give the eye something else to look at besides Fox Plaza.

  40. Posted by perhaps

    “”Reading this in the Chronicle this morning seriously angered me. Basic economics here: want to make housing more affordable? Build more of it.”
    This statement is vastly oversimplified. Generally speaking, yes, if supply increases enough to offset demand, prices will settle at an equilibrium price that the market should be able to bear.
    However, that said, we all know that even with every single project on the table as of today, demand in the city will always outpace supply to the point where prices will still be relatively unaffordable to the average person.”

    Er, way to call out a “vastly oversimplified” statement and then make one yourself that is outright wrong. Keep in mind that these forums and comments are peoples opinions, his and yours, and that in order to not “oversimplify” supply and demand, as you put it, is the focus of whole textbooks. Kind of hard to post in their entirety. And it is a fact, as the first poster noted, that if supply is increased and demand is static, the equilibrium price will shift lower.
    The single best thing that SF can do to create more affordable units is to create more units in general. Especially since a percentage of all new units are already required to be rented at BMR. I think this developer is a bit of a sleaze, but this development would be great for the City. Please build it!

  41. Posted by Brian

    What boggles my mind most is the smallness of their beef with the approved project.
    The difference between the approved project and the project Maxwell and McGoo are demanding yields a whopping 30 additional BMRs within the 1900 unit complex.
    In other words… Their action puts at risk the entire project in order to generate a ‘benefit’ for a grand total of just 30 people!

  42. Posted by Anonymous

    Brian, if you were one of those 30 people you would be singing a different tune I tell ya…They deserve BMR just like the others. A deal is not a deal till foundation is poured, and then it would take some real work to to squeze more out of Sangiacamo.
    This will be build, Maxwell and McTic got their names in the paper. They are happy now.

  43. Posted by Anonymous

    I for one wrote a letter of complaint to Maxwell’s office. No response…no surprise. However, if enough of us did the same, perhaps they’d change their toon to be more in the best interest of the city.

  44. Posted by Anonymous

    I believe in some rent control, BMRs etc., but this is not a socialist country. The government should help more to subsidize housing. Why does the developer always have to be squeezed? The city should take some responsibility.
    Not necessarily the case in SF, but Santa Monica almost killed its economy due to the ridiculous rent control. At a certain point rent is so low that the owners are not able to keep the buildings up in terms of maintenance. People were renting units that would easily rent for over a thousand for $250 a month.
    Everybody is going to hate me for saying this.

  45. Posted by CameronRex

    Anonymous at 5:30…no hate. The dark belly of rent control is that it discourages landlords from doing any but the most basic upkeep on their properties. It also encourages renters to stay in properties long after they could move someplace nicer which drives up rents (and housing prices) for everyone else. Rent control is well intentioned but has many negative effects on overall housing costs.

  46. Posted by anon-4

    wait a minute.
    everyone says these are rentals.
    did the developer guaranty they would actually be rentals?? — a deed restriction would accomplish that.
    doeas anyone know why these could not get build as condos immediatly – other than promise made my builder.
    i have not seen any menton of it.
    i think more retnal supply is a great thing — but just wonder financially whether they really will do it — or it was just said to aid approvals.
    i have real doubts on this.

  47. Posted by planner joe

    re anon 4 comment. i am in disbelief if the deed restriction was not required as part of this deal with Daly and others in the political area.
    if that true then City really, really got fooled badly.
    if any developer has the choice between renting an nice one BR unit for $2200/ mo (lets just say) or selling the same unit for $600,000 (even $500,000) they will build to sell.
    even if this guy is a big rental landlord. it doesnt matter. the money is still in condos.
    we are probaby in that case looking at 1900 units of new for sale housing in mid-market.

  48. Posted by Tom

    planner joe, if what you say is true then why are so many SOMA/SoBe condos being rented instead of sold by the developers (188 King for just one example)? Or why are there smaller developments that I’m aware of coming on as rentals when they were planned as condos? Because rents are rising and, in some areas, prices are not, and the developers prefer cash flow to carrying the properties while trying to get the selling price they planned on getting. I would strongly doubt that right now 1900 units mid-Market street would be an appealing condo selling proposition for the builder, especially with that many set-aside as BMR rentals for the current tennants on top of BMR sale units.

  49. Posted by planner joe

    are any new high rise projects – not located on government or agency land – being financed and built as rentals?
    i am just not aware , but would like to know.

  50. Posted by Tom

    Avalon at Mission Bay was, I believe, planned all along to be rentals, as are a number of other Mission Bay developments (Socketsite posting detailing Mission Bay developments, what’s condo/rental/retail/commercial/etc, here: http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2006/09/an_overview_of_mission_bay.html).
    As for elsewhere in the city, I believe that there are private apartment buildings being constructed — I’ve certainly seen rental buildings in SF that seem to be all rental (but not recalling a specific example at the moment, darn it). Surely the city planning department looks at rental unit additions on an ongoing basis — in fact, doesn’t the state get into this matter too?

  51. Posted by CameronRex

    Almost positive I read in the Chronicle that the developer committed to this project as rentals. If not in the Chronicle I read it somewhere. It was an issue when the project was first proposed.

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