November 29, 2007

Are They Clearing The Way For Someone's Californian On Rincon Hill?

Californian%20Site%20Work.jpg

We don’t know if Fifield has found a buyer for the development of The Californian on Rincon Hill, but as a tipster notes, “the future site…is now fenced off and demolition has begun.” Of course demolition isn't the same thing as construction, but it is a step in the right direction.

Now perhaps a plugged-in reader or two would be so kind as to spill share the inside scoop? And yes, you know we'd do the same for you.

The Californian On Rincon Hill: No Longer Coming Soon (If At All) [SocketSite]
The Californian on Rincon Hill: 375 Fremont St [SocketSite]

First Published: November 29, 2007 1:26 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

No inside scoop here - but looking forward to redevelopment on Fremont Street north of Folsom - such a bone yard right now.

Posted by: Jamie at November 29, 2007 1:50 PM

Doh! I meant ...
No inside scoop here - but looking forward to redevelopment on Fremont Street SOUTH of Folsom - such a bone yard right now.

Posted by: Jamie at November 29, 2007 1:59 PM

No inside scoop here either, but any chance the demo is related to the threat of cancelling entitlements for residential projects in San Francisco that haven't been sitting idle?

Posted by: Michael at November 29, 2007 2:10 PM

I believe the threat was in regards to office buildings not residential, due to the cap on sqft per year for office.

Posted by: sj at November 29, 2007 2:33 PM

Also, this morning I drove by the old CATS/residential rehab building on the corner of Harrison and Fremont (the tan building on the far right of the pic at the top of Fremont St) and demo work looked like it would happen imminently...

A definite step in the right direction for the neighborhood.

Posted by: anon at November 29, 2007 2:43 PM

Oh my, what a shocker, that project is still going to happen even though the original developer didn't see it through.

Like this is big news...

Posted by: RinconHill_Res at November 29, 2007 4:08 PM

"Oh my, what a shocker, that project is still going to happen even though the original developer didn't see it through."

So they're knocking down a dilapidated building, and you assume a project cancelled several months ago is automatically reinstated??? Isn't that a pretty big leap of assumptions on your part? Do you think it was all just an elaborate marketing ploy?
It's not back - it was cancelled because the market sucks. Good luck with your recent Rincon Hill purchase.

Posted by: smarty at November 29, 2007 4:19 PM

I'd also like to see the project happen. However, even the demolition is a great thing for the area. An empty plot of land is far better than a run-down set of buildings, where derelicts loiter.

Posted by: SFhighrise at November 29, 2007 4:20 PM

I too would be highly interested in what happens in this site.

Will it be simply razed?
will they put up a high rise similar to original proposal?
or will it get something radically different. (like commercial space or a mid rise etc)?

Posted by: ex SF-er at November 29, 2007 4:21 PM

with entitlements for a 40 story res. building already in-hand. This property may get flipped several times and delayed for a few years, but I doubt anything shorter would be built.

Posted by: sj at November 29, 2007 4:27 PM

"...you assume a project cancelled several months ago is automatically reinstated??? Isn't that a pretty big leap of assumptions on your part?...
It's not back - it was cancelled because the market sucks."

No, that is a pretty big leap of assumptions of your part. The prior news story was not that the project was canceled-- just that the current developer was trying to sell it. The property is worth much more as an entitled 40 story project than as a vacant lot with a canceled project.

Posted by: Dan at November 29, 2007 4:36 PM

Demo'ing the site will get rid of the derelicts/homeless and dilapidated structure, but it could be years before anything actually gets built. The site could remain an empty lot until a new developer steps to the plate. Then if the new developer wants to change the structure in any way, it could be more years before all the approval process is in place.

Someone could lease the land as a temporary overflow parking/storage lot (maybe for OneRincon or Turnberry crew). Or turn it into a paid parking lot...

Posted by: missionbayres at November 29, 2007 4:37 PM

If a project languishes with no activity, the approved building permits may become invalid and it may also provide an opening for various and sundry groups to contest existing planning approvals.

Often to avoid this and keep an existing permit "active", you show some low cost activity just like this.

Posted by: redseca2 at November 29, 2007 4:39 PM

An empty lot is a MASSIVE improvement over the piece of crap buildings currently on Fremont.

Posted by: will_h at November 29, 2007 4:46 PM

""...you assume a project cancelled several months ago is automatically reinstated??? Isn't that a pretty big leap of assumptions on your part?...
It's not back - it was cancelled because the market sucks."

No, that is a pretty big leap of assumptions of your part. The prior news story was not that the project was canceled-- just that the current developer was trying to sell it. The property is worth much more as an entitled 40 story project than as a vacant lot with a canceled project."

Thanks, Dan, you saved me the time of not having to respond to that raving diatribe.

Posted by: RinconHill_Res at November 29, 2007 4:48 PM

"Demo'ing the site will get rid of the derelicts/homeless "

Really, where are they going to go? tents fit nicely into vacant lots

Posted by: Spencer at November 29, 2007 4:58 PM

Probably same places they are now ... along Steuart and Howard Streets.

Posted by: Jamie at November 29, 2007 5:21 PM

Weren't there TWO projects planned for that block -- The Californian and another, smaller building?

Posted by: Damion at November 29, 2007 9:41 PM

I agree with Spencer. What rationale are you guys using to think that an empty lot is going to drive away the homeless? Laughable! Moreover, I'm most confused by all the comments about getting rid of "the piece of crap buildings currently on Fremont" and the "dilapidated structures" being torn down? What I see in the picture are great industrial buildings. I went and walked around this neighborhood a month ago to survey what was going on and, essentially, see what this city is destroying. The few old buildings left on Rincon (mostly boarded up now) were just as cool and diverse as I remembered. It was once a neighborhood you could only call "unique" - interesting lofts in quirky old buildings, gritty, a place that only a certain type of person would want to live. But for those people, I'm sure it was a great life. AND an inexpensive alternative to Noe, etc.

Now, it seems we have newcomers like Jamie (2 years in SF, right?) who cheer razing the whole "area" (I use area b/c it isn't really a "neighborhood" and never will be in my opinion). Just level it without having ever experienced what it was. Excuse me if I'm wrong, but all the commenters on this tread who are responding with "step in the right direction!" sound to me like they have NO IDEA what "direction" they are supporting and even LESS idea of the direction we came from from. Maybe you only refer to some of these buildings as "dilapidated" because you've only lived in SF 2-8 years? By the time you arrived, that building had already been bought, emptied and boarded up by some huge development company because SF had become this "hot" market. You never lived here when that building was the office of a company that was founded and operated in SF for the last 100 years. When you walk by these buildings even today, there are old signs in the windows saying "We've moved" or "We're closing" or "Thanks for the memories". They are in disrepair because they've been left sitting empty by a developer while they completed their acquisition of the surrounding lots. Which is probably why someone like Jamie doesn't like the current state of his neighborhood. That current state isn't what the area has always been and what we need to improve it from. That state of disrepair is the aftermath of a housing market that trampled on anything AFFORDABLE if it could be sold at a higher price.

Posted by: rg at November 29, 2007 9:44 PM

They are going to build a roller coaster.

Posted by: funland at November 29, 2007 10:49 PM

"Really, where are they going to go? tents fit nicely into vacant lots"

Maybe for a while. But the new residents of ORH, Infinity, are not your traditional SF residents. They won't hesitate to do their best to get homeless moves somewhere else, out of their neighborhood. I guarantee there will be a different attitude toward homeless here than in a lot of the city.

Posted by: anon at November 29, 2007 11:28 PM

I guess everybody is entitled to their own opinions.

Folks who lived in Rincon Hill before me had their public meetings and so on in earlier years to develop this neighborhood's future, and the results were plans to make the area a vertical high-rise neighborhood of residents and services/businesses for the residents.

I do believe it makes sense ... why squander property near the waterfront, with sunny weather most days, close to workplaces in the adjacent FiDi and SoMa neighborhoods, and with the opportunity to become a walkable/bicycle/transit-focused neighborhood, and provide many new opportunities for folks to call San Francisco home if they can afford to do so (either through their own means or with help from the Mayor's Office of Housing)? It is a fact of life that San Francisco's affordable housing program will continue to be homes sold on the outer periphery of Contra Costa, Alameda, and in the Valley - but this is no different from folks buying homes in Newark, New Jersey or Philadelphia who work in New York City.

Anyway ... Don't blame me for the property being highly sought after for new residential development and pricing out businesses. I'm doing what I can to try to make sure folks who move into Rincon Hill have a chance to get to know one another and have a voice in City Hall to make sure the Rincon Hill Plan and the Transbay Transit Center development plans that are intended to come together with Folsom Boulevard running from 2nd to the waterfront actually come to fruition. I love my Rincon Hill ... and I hope to make it even better.

City's Rincon Hill Plan:
http://www.sfgov.org/site/planning_index.asp?id=25076

Transbay Transit Area Plan:
http://www.sfgov.org/site/sfra_page.asp?id=5583


Posted by: Jamie at November 29, 2007 11:28 PM

For folks who live in Rincon Hill now (or in the near future) and who want to help the area become a stronger neighborhood for residential purposes, I highly recommend RSVPing to attend the next Rincon Hill Neighborhood Association meeting on December 10th at 5PM at the One Rincon Hill Sales Center at 511 Harrison Street. RSVP by sending your contact information to Info@RinconHillNeighbors.org

It is an opportunity to meet other Rincon Hill neighbors and to help form the beginnings of a political voice in City Hall where little to no voice exists today (for residents anyway).

I won't be at this meeting because I will be in Philly. But ... I look forward to meeting more Rincon Hill folks at these RHNA meetings in the future!

Posted by: Jamie at November 29, 2007 11:34 PM

R.G. mentions a very interesting alternative to the current fad of Irvine (O.C.) style housing on Rincon Hill. I actually think these old buildings would have some real possibilities for interesting mixed use housing and retail which would have helped Rincon Hill to finally fulfill it's claim of being a "neighborhood". A bunch of glass towers does not make a neighborhood. This is the problem that was discussed earlier with a similar area in Chicago called "Lake Shore East". A bunch of expensive condo towers built on former industrial land, but nobody is there, even though all of the towers are completely sold out. Lake Shore East has no pedestrian life, no retail, and at night it looks like nobody is home in all of the 80 story towers since most of the owners are using them as "second homes". Good Luck Jamie, but I am afraid this part of town has little left of what is unique about San Francisco.

Posted by: anonarch at November 30, 2007 8:22 AM

What makes this neighborhood unique are the gorgeous views of the bay bridge and bay and the walkable access to embarcadero, downtown, union square, etc. Why do buildings need to define a neighborhood?

I also think that the argument that these older mixed use buildings would be better suited for the area is short sighted. While I don't mind seeing a few industrial buildings renovated to lofts, the fact is that high rise buildings are needed. SF simply doesn't have any room to build out. In addition, the majority of areas are off limits for builders. Would you rather see these units in a smart growth area like Rincon Hill or spread out in some massive subdivision in Oakley, Tracy, Stockton, "insert central valley city"?

Just because this new type of neighborhood doesn't appeal to some of you doesn't make it wrong or bad for San Francisco. Nobody is taking away your "precious" older neighborhoods, just adding a new, modern neighborhood or two to the mix. I am constantly astounded by the level of elitism both on this board and in the city in general.

Posted by: SFhighrise at November 30, 2007 8:43 AM

Good points, rg. I agree that some of the "progress" the City is making in the Rincon Hill/South of Market area is changing the character of the area, and not necessarily for the better.

But just look at the new moniker we've got down there: "South Beach." That tells me all I need to know. We can't even come up with our own names, we have to swipe them from soul-less wastelands like Miami.

Posted by: Foolio at November 30, 2007 9:47 AM

Soul-less wasteland like Miami? Wow. Do you realize that the Tenderloin is a name stolen from New York? Even historically we have not been all that original so I see no problem with South Beach. Rincon Hill will be a great neighborhood. It is much too close to downtown and the waterfront not to be. It already has a fair amount of people and restaurants are already starting to open like Local at 330 First.
http://sf.eater.com/archives/2007/11/09/eater_inside_sneak_peek_local.php
This trend will continue and so will the development which, in my eyes, is what this city needs and has needed for the past 25 years.

Posted by: gfh at November 30, 2007 10:48 AM

Hey Foolio --
You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. South Beach is not "swiped from Miami." It's so named for the same reason North Beach is called North Beach -- they actually used to be beaches/shores along the original shoreline. South Beach was the beach/shore on the southern side of Rincon Hill, which itself formed the southern side of Yerba Buena Cove. Here is a link to a historic photo taken from Steamboat Point, looking north at South Beach (with Rincon Hill clearly visible).

http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt387015ds/

Posted by: city resident at November 30, 2007 3:04 PM

I noticed the red building is being demolished as well. I pass by it and they're area clearing out all the homeless emcampments down there including clothes, shoes, tents, junk, etc...

On a side note, the Turnberry plot next to the gas station still hasn't had any activity for weeks now. I wonder what's going on there?

Posted by: missionbayres at December 1, 2007 3:56 PM

Thank goodness they are finally getting rid of all of those "old" structures. Soon we will have more stucco and press-on-brick condos with clever names like "Grande" and "Blu" etc. And after the new structures are built, don't forget to import dozens of palms from Arizona to complete the transformation from San Francisco to Irvine North.

The whole idea that we have to make this part of the city into what would be attractive for recent transplants from Pheonix and Orange County is really short sighted, when a neighborhood of both new construction mixed with existing refurbished structures would have been far more intersting.
I predict that this area will feel like a ghost town, even though it is filled with "stunning" condo towers. This is not how to create a neighborhood.

Posted by: anon4sf at December 2, 2007 6:35 AM

Bring in the palms and clean, organized PhOEnix living to Rincon Hill asap!

Posted by: Josh at December 3, 2007 4:12 PM

I just heard a vicious unconfirmed rumor from someone at a large construction company that the lot was sold to an Australian firm who plans on building a 60-story tower!

Can anyone confirm this?

Posted by: Mark Choey at December 17, 2007 1:10 AM

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