February 15, 2008

JustQuotes: A Reminder That They’re Not Just Building Down In SoMa

"A half-dozen housing projects are under construction or recently finished, including 130-unit Symphony Towers at 724 Van Ness Ave., a 54-unit 818 Van Ness Ave., a 50-unit project at 77 Van Ness, and a 29-condo building at Greenwich and Van Ness. A half a block off of Van Ness, at 1 Polk St., Anka Development is nearing completion on the 179-unit Argenta. Elsewhere, AF Evans is planning 282 units on a large lot at Pine and Van Ness, and Bayrock Residential has entitlements to develop 107 units and a Trader Joe's at the old Galaxy Theater on the corner of Van Ness and Sutter.

Taken together, more than 2,000 housing units are in the pipeline along Van Ness, with another 1,000 likely to be built at the four corners of Van Ness and Market streets."

"From a city planning perspective, the burst of residential activity has been a long time coming. In 1989, the city passed the Van Ness corridor plan, which changed the zoning from commercial to 'commercial/residential.' The plan also raised height limits to 80 feet in some parts of the avenue and 130 feet elsewhere. Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the urban think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, said the 20-year-old Van Ness plan serves as the model for city's 'better neighborhood' planning process.

'What we are seeing now is, through several real estate cycles, that plan continuing to be built out,' said Metcalf. 'Van Ness proved the value of neighborhood planning in the sense that we are not fighting about each individual project because we did the work up front.'

Van Ness may also be benefiting from planning gridlock elsewhere. With the Eastern Neighborhood planning process still contentious and bogged down after eight years, and Market Octavia plan still stuck in committee debate, Van Ness is one of the few centrally located parts of town where dirt can be moved, according to Chris Foley, a principal with the Polaris Group, which does condo sales and works with developers to secure sites and entitlements." (S.F. housing boom moves to Van Ness)

S.F. housing boom moves to Van Ness [Business Times]
Symphony Towers Update: 45% In Contract And Opening February 08 [SocketSite]
The SocketSite Scoop On The 52 Condos Rising At 818 Van Ness Ave [SocketSite]
77 Van Ness Rising (And Our Request For A Rendering) [SocketSite]
SocketSite Readers Report: The Grand Opening of The Greenwich [SocketSite]
Argenta (1 Polk): Ground Breaking [SocketSite]
1285 Sutter Street: The Proposed Design To Replace The Galaxy [SocketSite]
SocketSite’s Complete Inventory Index (Cii): Q1 2008 (San Francisco) [SocketSite]
San Francisco’s Market & Octavia Neighborhood Plan Moves Forward [SocketSite]
For Policy Wonks Only, Or Simply Those Who Care [SocketSite]

First Published: February 15, 2008 6:40 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

the only problem I see with the Van Ness buildings is that they are too expensive. The Eastern Neighborhoods plan needs to get finalized because it seems to present the best opportunity for affordable infill housing.

Posted by: anono at February 15, 2008 10:35 AM

If limp & timid Van Ness (including all the recent eye-numbing plywood & stucco clad new buildings)is a result of a 1989 Better Neighborhood Plan, then we immediately need a new plan.

Why would SPUR ever consider this to be a 'model' plan. SPUR, take a walk on Van Ness today -- can pedestrian life possibly be any duller? Everyone avoids Van Ness.

Safe, 6-story tall buildings on a wide boulevard as this? So much for density or critical mass which would support engaging pedestrian retail. Cyclists? Don't get in our SUV way.

VN remains nothing but an accommodation of SUV Peninsula-to-Marin traffic with weak suburban styled buildings.

VN tho has every potential to be incredible but we need to get over our fear of heights (the new generation has in fact) and aggressively and immediately envision streets as more than SUV lanes. For ex. look @ what London's mayor is planning http://www.planetizen.com/node/29671 {"superhighway" bicycle network}. From Market Street to the Bay -- it needs to be rezoned.

It's not 1989 any longer, and we don't accept urban planning by endless compromising committees.

IMO.

Posted by: invented at February 15, 2008 11:00 AM

Invented

I am certain that SPUR is just pragmatic after seeing plan after plan get delayed and neutered

How long has the Octavia plan been circulating? And as far as I can tell it has been compromised to death and is still not acceptable to the BOS

Until SFians demand change this is the way it will be

In that context what is going on on Van Ness isn't half bad for this little town

Posted by: Zig at February 15, 2008 11:57 AM

Even though it is just a block, I'd much rather live on Polk than Van Ness. Now if only things became more affordable...

Posted by: scurvy at February 15, 2008 1:48 PM

Invented, it wasn't a "better neighborhoods" style complete plan, but a simple re-zoning to allow relatively tall residential development. That is what I believe is being identified as the "success" by SPUR. I think SPUR would be the first to say that a lot of other things have to happen to improve the neighborhood. They've been very supportive of the Van Ness busway concept, for instance.

Van Ness is difficult. It's got a lot of dreck left over from the 50's/60's ("hotel/motel/holiday inn....") It still has to function as a highway connector, and yet it is also a broad and potentially beautiful boulevard. I don't think you can argue that replacing auto showrooms with mixed use commercial/residential complexes has been anything but cumulatively good for street life. You can argue that specific new buildings are pretty terrible, and you can also argue that it's time to do some things to help the pedestrian realm, although I think sidewalks are probably plenty wide already.

Posted by: curmudgeon at February 15, 2008 2:43 PM

Note to Soma Grand people:

1. Nice touch to plant those four trees on the sidewalk on Mission Street in front of your lobby

2. Unfortunately, even as small as they currently are, they almost completely block the view of traffic coming west on Mission Street. Since this is intended to be a busy garage (over 500 spaces), this is a real public safety hazard. As much as you'd like to beautify the street, you need to either remove the trees or plant taller ones where the foliage is already at least six feet off the ground.

3. I am not kidding about this, just pull out of the garage and you'll see it immediately.

Posted by: Robert at February 17, 2008 10:01 PM

@ Robert - transients living on the street are a public safety hazard. Newly planted trees are not. Why don't you call the SomaGrand office or send them a letter - better yet call the city - rather than post your issue regarding newly planted trees on a thread about general new developments in SOMA?

Posted by: movingback at February 17, 2008 10:38 PM

Does anyone have any information about the construction/pricing of the Argenta (1 Polk) or the 10th and Market projects? The Argenta has sheet rock in but the activity on the site seems to be greatly reduced while the 10th & Market project seems to be stalled since the demolition of the old structure was completed last fall.

Posted by: pica1986 at February 18, 2008 12:51 PM

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