February 27, 2008
The 690 Stanyan Project: Overview And EIR Hearing Tomorrow (2/28)
The proposed demolition: The vacant 24-foot-high, 23,600-square-foot (sq.ft.) retail building (Cala Foods) and removal of the existing 42-space parking lot at 690 Stanyan.
The proposed project: A "four-story," 115,400-sq.ft. retail/residential building with a 34,400-sq.ft. ground-floor specialty grocery store (Whole Foods), 62 residential units in 81,000 sq.ft., and an additional three-level, 176-space subterranean garage (90,000 sq.ft.) with 114 grocery store parking spaces and 62 residential parking spaces. 26 studio units, 20 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit.
The Planning Commission hearing: Tomorrow (2/28/08), 1:30 p.m., City Hall (Room 400).
The point: Show up and show your support (or not).
UPDATE: And thanks to a plugged-in tipster we add a rendering and additional insight: "The final design was a real collaboration between architect [Stephen Antonaros] and neighbors (The Haight Ashbury Improvement Assn) and resulted in the creation of a mezzanine level cafe overlooking Golden Gate Park, something the neighbors preferred over the street level cafe the Planning Dept was pushing for."
∙ The 690 Stanyan Project [690stanyan.com]
First Published: February 27, 2008 4:26 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
No way! I want a vacant lot overrun with derelicts. This must be stopped!
Posted by: zzzzzzz at February 27, 2008 4:47 PM
I wish they could blow up that McDonnalds across the street too
Even a new McDonnalds in a mixed use building would be fine with me
If fact I wonder why the owners of the McDs on say Van Ness and Haight don't run the and propose mixed use buildings? Seems they are sitting on a gold mine and everyone wins.
The Haight MCDs parking lot is a huge parcel
Posted by: Zig at February 27, 2008 5:39 PM
Big question: would you want to live there with all the gutter punks in the area?
I'm all for the project, but this should be interesting to watch in the coming months.
@Zig - amen to that. Hopefully the owner of the land will figure out that maybe there is something more lucrative to do with the land than just flip burgers and let dudes with grocery carts trundle through the parking lot all day.
Posted by: Dave at February 27, 2008 5:43 PM
And with regard to the design I can live with the post modern looking tower thingy (not my taste but ok) but what is with that utlitarian grey bay window line framed by tan? Really unimaginative
Posted by: Zig at February 27, 2008 5:43 PM
It's not pretty, but it would be great for the neighborhood to have a grocery store and housing instead of parking right there...not sure whether the fact that it's whole foods is a plus or a minus, but Cala was never that cheap anyway.
Posted by: ljl at February 27, 2008 5:55 PM
I know that UCSF is right there, but I really wish that the mix of units were more family friendly. That's a lot of studio and one bedrooms.
Posted by: h at February 27, 2008 6:38 PM
The wave effect of the roof line is just bad, as is the stucco bay popping out of the wood, and the splayed-top tower thingy on the corner. The colors are deadly dull and the windows lack integrity. The bays are horrible each with a different curvy angle at the top. They should just start over. It looks like the same crappy condos you see everywhere only worse because they are trying to be "arty" and failed at it. That is a beautiful site with a lot of potential and they totally blew it. Another bottom-line driven piece of crap made even worse by the input of the neighborhood busybodies, I'm sure. It's a damn shame if this gets built.
Posted by: who_deenie at February 27, 2008 6:56 PM
Wholly unremarkable for this critical site.
1. Just ONE 3-bedroom apartment. Case in point -- SF does not build for families. We're all about yuppy transitional housing - hello East Bay when the kids come. If ever there were a better location for MANY large apartments. THIS is where families want to be.
2. Yet another example of under-building. When a world class park is flanked with one-story homes and occasional 2-4 story buildings - it says a lot about how the Park is (not) viewed. This site begs for a wonderful 8-15 beacon -- Stanyan & Haight -- something respecting the natural amenity of ---park views! Any other city with any spunk & vision would so something taller. It's Golden Gate Park for heaven's sake. Is this Geary Blvd building really acceptable for a high profile residence location @ the primary gate of GGP?
Posted by: invented at February 27, 2008 7:26 PM
who is the developer on this project?
and for the record, the circular corner component is a traditional architecural element originally developed and ultimately perfect in that paradise of the south known as los angeles, and is formally defined as an "ass hat".
in fact, a small group of dedicated "ass hat spotters" are working on categorizing this prominent architectural feature for the benefit of future fans:
Posted by: green city at February 27, 2008 7:54 PM
Who-deenie...When you say "...and the windows lack integrity". What do you mean?
Posted by: Wayne at February 27, 2008 9:53 PM
who is the architect?
i wish the media derided lousy design firms. we mock poor actors, lousy singers and crappy restaurants-- and i think it benefits society-- why not get critical of those who shape our physical environment?
you listening AIA?
Posted by: who is the at February 27, 2008 10:00 PM
invented-some interesting thoughts though this is one of the last places I would want to raise my kids in SF. After having had a GF live next to this site I saw:
People shitting in our courtyard
People fucking in our courtyard
hypodermic needles in our courtyard
crazy people screaming all night below our apartment
Drug sales daily (not the biggest deal)
And punk kids being severely beaten by other punk kids
I wouldn't subject my kids to that
With regard to your comment about height as far as I recall the neighborhood groups actually started to fight off the plans to line the Panhandle with 5-10 story buildings
Not that I don't agree with your assessment of what should occur if we had a more normal planning process but this seems to be part of their legacy so its a nonstarter
Posted by: zig at February 27, 2008 10:02 PM
The Wells Fargo development is horrid, and this looks like its bastard offspring! >:-p
Posted by: sf at February 27, 2008 11:14 PM
This 'thing' is an insult to old time San Francisco architecture. It is such an offense to such a great (in its older days, mind you) neighborhood as the first thing you will see coming out of the park. I hope that the Haighters will do what's right and reject something original and zany.
Posted by: sf at February 27, 2008 11:17 PM
Agreed - it looks pretty cookie cutter from the outside, but I also agree that anything will be a huge improvement. And yeah, sorry they are not building family units - they just are not as profitable as small units and there is not as big of a demand for large units (if you really want a large unit, buy two contiguous units and combine them). Then it comes down to the unaffordability of families living in the city which is the same as it is for singles and couples (i.e. screwed), so no, I don't think the city is overly unfriendly to any one particular demographic. Besides it seems the developer met their social responsibility already by replacing the grocery store - it would be at least twice as profitable to cut that up into smaller retail spaces but the neighborhood doesn't want that so they are stuck with a lower paying ground floor tenant (large grocery stores pay a lot less rent per square foot than smaller retail spaces). The real interesting thing in this development I think is the three stories of underground parking. That is insanely costly to build and is a fairly new thing for a neighborhood location. Anyway, that pushes up the cost of the project, so I'd expect the prices out of the gate on this to be pretty high.
Posted by: Miles at February 27, 2008 11:18 PM
Are you people nuts?
So this isnt world class architecture - it replaces a PARKING LOT
So there isnt a good mix of family friendly units - this is the HAIGHT - probably the most hateful neighborhood in SF towards a "traditional" family
Thank god this building doesnt conform to the traditional "world class" San Francisco architecture. This town is absolutely terrified to try anything new. You'd think there was no possible chance for SF to define a new standard for itself with the way the resident constantly exalt the old way of doing things.
Get the hell over it people and move on to complain about the next building blocking your view.
Posted by: Joe at February 28, 2008 8:42 AM
for as much crap as posters give the planning commission and neighborhood groups nitpicking developments to death, I don't see the posters here being much different.
At least someone is willing to take on the ridiculous planning process and try and get something built and maybe, maybe, if more places get approved and the process becomes less daunting more developers will take bigger risks. But as it is, this death by a thousand cuts situation developers face in SF, why put in the time, effort, and cost to be truly innovating when the chances of anything actually happening is so slim.
You want better development start saying yes to things.
And keep in mind not every project can or should be some architectural masterpiece, at the end of the day you have to compromise to try and get something done.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at February 28, 2008 8:48 AM
totally agree with Joe ... unless there is some substantially better proposal out there to replace this VACANT building and parking lot I don't see complaints about the roof line and 'asshat' as being a resonable reason to shoot down much needed retail and housing space in the Haight.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at February 28, 2008 8:55 AM
The rounded corner elements have been a staple of San Francisco architecture since the earliest developments. There is plenty of evidence for that in and around downtown. Let's not drag LA into this.
This location is one of the few in the City I would consider moving to. People who don't like the area don't have to live there, and people who do live there can change the character of the place over time through their efforts. Did zig ever call the cops and insist on enforcement for any of the crimes or craziness observed? I didn't think so. You get what you pay for.
The ideas in this development seem right on, and the second floor cafe overlooking the park is a great detail. The isometric elevation rendering actually looks rather nice, but the more realistic perspective rendering brings out all the flaws in the design. Unfortunately I have to agree that the design simply doesn't work and should probably be redone. Even with all that it still seems way better to me than some crappy pseudo-victorian or pseudo-edwardian or some drab, 50s-70s inspired block of flats. This corner is a hot spot for neighborhood activity, so it deserves something more serious than what is currently there.
Posted by: Mole Man at February 28, 2008 8:58 AM
People who don't like the area don't have to live there, and people who do live there can change the character of the place over time through their efforts.
Ironically, that is exactly the problem.
Blaming problems on residents not calling the cops everytime they see a junkie in action is just precious. Anyone who over lived in the Haight can bring those from the outside up to speed on the improvements that take place whenever an officer arrives to "take a report."
Back on topic, here's hoping this thing gets done...
Posted by: Mikey at February 28, 2008 9:40 AM
LOL @ "Asshat". On a somewhat related note, can someone (who is architecturally plugged-in) tell me how to describe the current trend of buildings being wider at the top than at street level? I assume it isn't "modified asshat"
It's a splayed top, somewhat reminiscent of the wider Victorian rood facades I suppose. I fear overuse of this detail might result in a city that looks like a sprouting field of lilies.
Seems like an expensive construction requirement. Examples:
Posted by: gategourmet at February 28, 2008 10:57 AM
Just b/c it would be an improvement on a parking lot does not mean it has to be FUGLY.
Good architecture would not cost anymore to build than this 6-story strip-mall. I can already imagine a Quizos and a Western Dental...
There is not much open land left in the city so lets do projects that reflect the character of san fracisco. Sad...
Posted by: I Haight it! at February 28, 2008 11:19 AM
When is a strip mall not a strip mall?
When it is:
6 stories instead of 1
When the parking is underground instead of in front.
When there is 4 stories of housing over the first level.
When the building takes up the entire site.
When is an opinion meaningless?
When it calls something which looks nothing like "X" "X"
I for one welcome the whole foods over a locally grown, organic, macrobiolactovegan, store selling wholly unremarkable products. If you were to look to the current mom and pop shop status in the haight as to what to build - we would end up with another nail shop, liquor store, or pick and pull used clothing/nostalgia store.
Posted by: bob at February 28, 2008 11:50 AM
Mole Man-of course I called the cops. they can't do much when crazy homeless people (actually it was one individual over and over) are screaming other than shoo them away
They come back
the kid getting beat happened so fast so no
For the drugs I already know they don't care so what would the point be
Posted by: Zig at February 28, 2008 11:55 AM
"If you were to look to the current mom and pop shop status in the haight"
Mom and Pop like Vermont based international chain store Ben and Jerry's? Because that is all I see sitting at the corner of Haight and Ashbury or did they replace the SF based Gap store yet?
Guess what folks the "summer of love" was forty years ago the hippies are retiring and cashing social security checks that certainly don't cover the mortgage on a Haight Victorian.
It's time for SF to build and grow instead of preserving rotting vacant buildings under the guise of preserving some 60's fantasy of what SF used to be.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at February 28, 2008 12:01 PM
Is parking required for this type of development? Each unit will have an option to purchase a spot but isnt there a movement to reduce parking?
Also, Whole Foods doesn't need all the 114 spots. Look at the Trader's Joe in North Beach, it should be no more than two dozen spots.
Posted by: phil at February 28, 2008 12:11 PM
Such a loss of precious space, this could have been used for a ground breaking LEED platinum housing project or something that actually reflects back on the soul of the Haight, instead of the empty suits (or should I say empty ponchos) that exist there now..
Posted by: sf at February 28, 2008 12:36 PM
The building currently on site - empty, boarded up and surrounded by chain link - accurately reflects the current soul of the haight.
Posted by: Joe at February 28, 2008 1:00 PM
As a current resident of the Haight, I agree that the neighborhood needs to make a GIANT leap into the present. Holding onto the Summer of Love has netted a stinky, skeezy, drugged out street that many locals try to avoid (likely not the full intention of the movement).
Progress in getting the project green-lit is a huge win. It brings the promise of some new life (and hopefully a new direction) to the neighborhood.
Figure that the actual design will be edited and revved a million times before ground is even broken...
Posted by: mjp94117 at February 28, 2008 1:40 PM
truly pathetic design! who are these architects/developers!!?
this design doesn't add anything of value to the haight ashbury.. or to the architectural integrity of that area.
this is the first thing one sees when coming out of Golden Gate Park for crissakes. this city deserves something groundbreaking and totally foward thinking. not this piece of crap.
and i intend to write to the developers as soon as i find out who they are. so should everyone else airing their grievances in this comments section. a glass box would be better than this monstrosity. it looks like something that'd be built in a ski resort
Posted by: Gabriel at February 28, 2008 2:05 PM
"Such a loss of precious space, this could have been used for a ground breaking LEED platinum housing project or something that actually reflects back on the soul of the Haight"
You do realize this is private property. Who should pay for your vision?
Or should we wait it out for the perfect project like they are in North Beach with that derelict movie theater that has been shuttered for decades?
Posted by: zig at February 28, 2008 2:18 PM
zig... I wouldn't be so whiny and NIMBYish if this weren't such a LANDMARK, only in San Francisco location. It is the very FIRST thing you see coming out of the infamous GGPark Haight street gates. It's an insult to citizens and to the history of SF, and I am just proud of my city and want to see it do better is all. If this were just some infill and not on a world famous corner I wouldn't care as much about the design.
Posted by: sf at February 28, 2008 2:33 PM
"World famous corner"?? Oh come on - I could think of a dozen more locations throughout The City that are more famous than this one. It's simply outside one of the many entrances to GG Park, that's all.
Posted by: Fishchum at February 28, 2008 3:13 PM
"world famous corner"
Do you honestly thing people around the world ever think about the corner where haight meets golden gate park? Is it world famous due to the freestanding mcdonalds with attached parking lot next door?
Who hasnt seen that south park episode where they are in SF. I'm totally imagining SF's comment coming with half closed eyes.
Posted by: Joe at February 28, 2008 3:16 PM
the only thing world famous is san francisco is GG Bridge. people should get over themselves. this building is perfectly fine for this drug infested homeles haven.
Posted by: Spencer at February 28, 2008 3:46 PM
the architecture is pathetically generic crap.
yes, it's better to put the project on hold until they can get a real architect, or give this one some acid so he can get some imagination. this site will get developed someday soon -- there's absolutely no rush to approve collosal crap that we have to live with for 100 years until it finally burns or rattles to the ground.
and wwwwaaaaaayyyy too much parking. they might be whole foods, but they still have a suburban development model. (Anyone in the neighborhood knows that the monstrous garage at the new Falletti's market down the street is always empty, though the store is doing fine. They ridiculously devoted the nice outdoor space in front to 10 spaces of surface parking, rather than a nice plaza with seating etc -- the result is that only the outdoor parking gets used, the huge indoor garage is empty, and we get a parking lot for a centerpiece instead of a nice public space.)
Posted by: haight resident at February 28, 2008 4:31 PM
We've added an unrendered perspective on the proposed site for reference (above).
Posted by: SocketSite at February 28, 2008 4:51 PM
I live on Waller Street and I support this project.
The architecture looks exactly like what the project is: a Whole Foods with residential above it.
"Architecture critics" need to put their money where their mouth is.
Posted by: Don't Be A Haighter at February 28, 2008 5:09 PM
The same developer for this Site built the building with the equally busy facade between Shrader and Cole (with a Wells Fargo as a tenant) and the more self effacing building at the corner of Cole and Haight with Goodwill as the prime tenant.
The "Goodwill" building originally was intended to house a Thrifty Drug but was torched by an arsonist just about when they got the roof on. After a total ground up re-build, it opened with Goodwill as the prime tenant, having learned some lesson about neighborhood dynamics.
I have always assumed the silly facades are some sort of revenge by the developer.
Posted by: redseca2 at February 28, 2008 5:55 PM
San Francisco is a famous place. Even in Eastern Europe in Budapest, Hungary, all of my Hungarian friends knew about San Francisco (California was their first response) and could name the landmarks (GG Bridge most famous). You guys are crazy, no offense to that.
Posted by: sf at February 28, 2008 6:19 PM
The architect is the same that "designed" those two lego-esque houses "on the edge of St. Francis Woods" -the ones that never sold for the $10 million they wanted and were foreclosed upon. I've been in another of this guy's houses and it was the most horribly designed and laid out house I think I've ever seen. For those of you saying that this is fine and we "haters" should just get over it: WE are the ones who actually CARE about SF and the way it looks. Which, in turn, makes it more desirable to live here or visit here. An empty lot is doing much more good for this city than this monstrosity any day. And the Planning Dept. won't change this design through it's process because this is exactly the cheap sh*t that it loves to see - ass hat and all.
Don't Be A Haighter: and where exactly are we suppose to put our money??? It seems to me that the developers need to put THEIR money on US, because these "architecture critics" are speaking the gospel.
Posted by: anony at February 28, 2008 6:52 PM
For those who do not like the design of this project can you please provide some examples of what you would deem to be more desirable. Thanks
Posted by: wayne at February 28, 2008 10:00 PM
Bingo, Wayne! All of these self-appointed architecture critics with no proposed alternatives (and no credentials to suggest that they are master urban planners) are really getting tiresome. See my comment here re: the 2405 Folsom development
And please, anony...You care so much about the way SF looks and yet you stupefyingly proclaim that this derelict empty lot is preferable to a grocery store and housing? Really. Wow.
Look...I've lived in SF for 22 years, in all areas of the city, including the Haight. This is a positive step. It's not perfect, but please, pray tell, what would YOU build here?
Posted by: BernalDweller at February 28, 2008 10:18 PM
what would i build here?!
easy. A 5-6 story simple structured building (steel beams) very clean and contemporary. with floor to ceiling glass windows and walls (think stanley saitowitz) -- with contemporary, yet organic shuttering system to cut down on glare (optional). could be accomplished with color tinted glass.
a second floor cafe.. with get this..! an outdoor terrace facing stanyan street.. so that people could actually sit out in the sun and look out on to the park!
the roof would be a landscaped garden/living roof architectural green space. with gorgeous views over the park and sunset. wouldn't you want to live in a building that has a roof deck or garden??
Clean, functional and progressive.
this guys design looks like a failing grade from an underachieving student project. i could see this in santa clara. but not on the corner adjacent to golden gate park!!
Posted by: Gabriel at February 28, 2008 10:59 PM
OH! Damn, BernalDweller and Wayne! Now you got me! I recognize how wrong I was NOW. You say, "bring it on," - I'll BRING IT ON.
First, I've lived in this city almost as long as you and I do think that the empty parking lot is better than this. I think a stinking pile of garbage would be a better option. Btw, that's a UC Berkeley architecture and planning degree saying that. Yeh, I'm both a practicing architect and a teacher of architecture. SO, what are you're credentials??? As for "needing" housing and a grocery store? I happen to believe that SF has plenty of housing. With thousands of condos coming on the market this year alone, we'll actually have quite a glut in fact. And who in their right mind is looking forward to ANY new housing built in SF? Haven't the last 6 years taught us that the only thing to be built is outrageously expensive, poorly planned units that us "architecture critics" can't afford? I don't need to consider this any further, if some developer is looking to build on this corner, he/she is looking to make immense profits (undoubtably by selling that GG Park view). All the while, it will price out most people currently living in the area and not provide any help for the huge youth homeless problem on that specific corner. Despite some comments here, this IS an important corner in SF - it's the entrance to GG Park from one of the most famous streets in the world (and the most famous in SF). This project could take some of that into consideration if we're lucky, but at least put some TIME into the design. And if you're the developer, BernalDweller, and you'd like to PAY me for that "alternate proposal," email SocketSite and they can give you my address.
Until then, I'll direct you to a few outstanding architects in SF and beyond that could do better:
Anne Fougeron - just did the building at Gough & Eddy(?). Turned out to be for seniors, but it's still gorgeous.
Lorcan O'Herlihy - OUTSTANDING work in SoCal www.loharchitects.com
also look at Porter House in NYC and the Humbolt Mill in Minneapolis - I love both.
Posted by: anony at February 28, 2008 11:16 PM
It's the usual post-modern pastiche of turrets and bay windows we get here to appease the elderly lefties here. If The Haight's going to change, they'll make sure it takes place with shingles and stucco firmly locked in the tastes of the '70's. While I'm grateful they kept The Panhandle from becoming a freeway forty years ago, a little architecture isn't going to kill them.
And Wayne- there any number of firms that could do a great job on this site- Sagan/Piechota, Backen Gillam, Baldauf Catton Von Eckartsberg to name three that are experienced in mixed-use and Northern California modernism.
At least there may be Whole Foods to walk to sometime in this decade. Maybe.
Posted by: rocco at February 28, 2008 11:23 PM
Boring, banal, ugly.
Out of place.
The opposite of innovation.
Looks like subsidized housing.
Even Donald Trump has built more interesting buildings.
The rest of what I would have to say about this excuse for architecture is not appropriate for this forum.
I will give some ideas for architecture: multi-colored reflective glass panels to create a mosaic of psychedelic colors. Or simple glass facade, but glass etched to reflect motifs from the neighborhood vernacular and/or the flora of Golden Gate Park.
Posted by: joe shmoe at February 28, 2008 11:42 PM
I agree that this is not the nicest building ever but come on..."one of the most famous streets in the world"????
I know people in Seattle who have never even heard of the Haight district let alone the street.
This city is really fading out of the spotlight. We are being surpased on so many levels because of this small town attitude but hey...we are perfect already. No need for new housing, new offices, new business, new people.
I stay here year after year not really for what this city is but for what I think it was and can be again. A city that knows how.
Posted by: boredashell at February 29, 2008 12:06 AM
I know I shouldnt be surprised by any opinion which comes after a statement like "I've lived here longer" but honestly some people are just a**holes. Honestly after reading all of this, San Francisco really deserves what it gets. This corner should stay undeveloped in perpetuity.. Really... The last thing sf needs is more housing?
Posted by: Taylord at February 29, 2008 7:12 AM
To anony... While 1234 Howard (saitowitz) may be pretty, it is not a very functional building. Even though Saitowitz and his partners kept several units and after a year of marketing, several units are still available.Lorcan O'Herlihy is unlikely ever to do a building in San Francisco. He has told me clearly that he has no interest in doing a "design by committee" as is the process in San francisco which usually takes several years. The developers of this site have owned it for several years and have spent a fortune in carrying costs incloding over 200K alone for the EIR. They started out with a different Architect but after his plans were eviscerated at early neighborhood meetings they went with this route. One of the biggest problems here is that we have such a weak planning dept that gives everyone ther say. The result is projects like these. I am a developer myself and have been through this about 20 times. There is no way I would bring an "outside the box" project to city planning because it would get thrown in my face, particularly if it is a controversial location.
Posted by: Wayne at February 29, 2008 8:49 AM
Great post, Anony...you did bring it, and that furthers the debate far more, which is all I asked for. I won't comment on your "stinking pile of garbage" quote. I think there is enough of that already in this town.
- Glut of housing in SF? You've got to be kidding me. Don't confuse a down market with a glut of housing.
- Affordability - that's a tough one. I am of the opinion that there is such a thing as affordable ways to purchase real estate in this city, but most people either are unwilling to purchase a first home that is not their dream home, or choose to work below earning potential and then don't understand why the market is so competitive. Flame away.
- "Immense profits" - yes, developers make profits.
- "[does] not provide any help for the huge youth homeless problem on that specific corner." So because homeless youth congregate in this area, that means this development has to address that? I don't think so.
- I've already conceded this ain't the best design in the world...we agree there, and love your recommendations re: architects that do great work. I'm familiar with some, and will educate myself on the others.
- And no, I'm not a developer, "the developer", or in any way involved in RE, other than being a homeowner. I am a finance executive.
Posted by: BernalDweller at February 29, 2008 10:14 AM
This architect is the same one who did the exterior remodel some years ago for the building that houses Positively Haight, the Haight's other gateway intersection at Masonic, you know anony, the one with the acid-induced columns?.
and Wayne, the owners haven't changed architects after the evisceration of the first design, the design changed as it will likely continue knowing how everyone has their idea of what makes good architecture.
Posted by: howard at February 29, 2008 10:15 AM
Annoy: Would love to see a portfolio of your work. Please post a link to the blog.
Posted by: Don't Be A Haighter at February 29, 2008 10:26 AM
If you like homeless teens on drugs this will be a great place to live. If a friend from out of town wanted to see a homeless teen on drugs this is where I would take them...
P.S. If you call the cops to say that teens in the Haight are doing drugs or crapping on the sidewalk nothing will happen (they will only leave the donut shop if you see a gun)...
Posted by: PacHeights Renter at February 29, 2008 12:00 PM
Seems to me we have three distinct schools of thought on this topic:
1) People who hate the design and feel no progress should be made until there are better plans.
2) People who hate the design but feel that something, albeit ugly, is better than an empty lot.
3) People who are debating ancillary topics, like how gross the neighborhood is or how lame RE developers are, etc.
If we focus on the first two, seems like the common denominator is an agreement that the design is sub-optimal. With that in mind... what are next steps? Is there any sort of recourse (email writing, meetings to attend, offices to call, etc) or do we just sit back and debate while those involved in the project are completely unaware that this discussion exists?
Based on observation, there are lots of smart and passionate people reading Socketsite. Gotta be something we can do bring the design-lover's POV to the forefront. I mean, passionate people are holding up projects all over SF... why can't we stand up for good design? If I was smarter I'd propose a plan... since I'm not, I'll ask for insight from other readers. What do we do?
Posted by: mjp94117 at February 29, 2008 4:53 PM
I think the design looks great! They did a different design before and it also looked good, but it was way "out of the box" and definitely something not seen before. The neighbors who actually LIVE there, said they didn't like it, so they came back with this design. Its tamer, but I like it better. This is computer generated, so it probably will look a bit different anyway.
As for the glass that some are calling for, I hope you don't mean like that hideous building on Gough St (where the freeway was)? That is awful! Why do "non-profit" developers build such cheap eyesores? And please don't suggest any building that looks like the painfully boring Broderick Plaza. Talk about Walnut Creek!
Posted by: bob at February 29, 2008 5:42 PM
Bob: there's just not much accounting for taste with the general public.
if you think this design is great.. then i can't take your opinion seriously. We need forward thinking architects creating 'progressive projects.. not molding buidlings to the whims of just any resident in the neighborhood. after all what does the average resident know about GREAT ARCHITECTURE?
and yes, you're right it's just a rendering.. and it will probably look different when finished.
though unfortunately it will probably end up looking cheaper and uglier than the rendering. not a good way to go! you're right we don't need another Broderick Place. That's why many of us are TOTALLY AGAINST another UGLY development. 690 Stanyan is actually uglier and less imaginative than broderick place. as far as the building you mentioned on Gough.. i have no idea which one you're talking about.
p.s. who went to the planning commission meeting..and how did it go?
Posted by: Gabriel at February 29, 2008 6:06 PM
This is hack design, plain and simple. It would be bad in Antioch let alone SF. The site deserves far better, the people deserve far better, the city deserves far better. Everyone involved should be ashamed of this astoundingly un-progressive cartoon of a building design -- developer, planners, architect and 'community involvement' included.
Posted by: citicritter at March 1, 2008 8:40 AM
Citicritter...give us an example of what you think would be "far better', and I do not mean just the names of some Architects.
Posted by: Wayne at March 1, 2008 11:27 AM
Wayne - you seem to know a lot about this developer and admit that you are a developer yourself. You also hint that you know Lorcan O'Herlihy, so I assume that you, even if only in a small way, have your finger on a better "pulse" than this. So I'm really baffled why, when you look at this, you're not as disgusted as the critics on this site. I'm not a negative person in general, but this building is SO far beyond being acceptable that I'm purely depressed by it. It makes me ashamed to be a designer. Crap - just plain crap. If I were the developer and my architect came to me with this, I'd fire him and refuse to pay. There is a responsibility to put a reasonable level of care into their work, and Antonaros has obviously not (and I also didn't see that care in the other home of his I've been in). Plain and simple - you'd win any lawsuit against them. Those curves above the windows - AAAAHHHHH!
If you are the developer, or know him/her and think that they could use some help, please ask SS for my email and I'd be happy to discuss. I really hope that you don't feel that this design is acceptable. I know this city can be hard to deal with, and I know that there are large risks in developing this site, but that's no excuse. As I've said many times on this site, blaming the Planning Dept. is not an excuse I will accept. I've walked into their office with incredibly progressive designs in the past and never had them blink. Granted, residential projects without the need for EIRs and such, but still requiring all the input of neighbors, etc. I still find them to be very open to designs that are WELL designed. It always makes me laugh on this site when people complain that Planning tears their good designs apart, but then complain that Planning doesn't reject bad designs, and then complain that Planning is run by morons with no knowledge of design/planning. The fact is that Planning has no design oversight! The only thing that they can do is help mediate changes when neighbors object. They don't cause designs like this, nor do their recommendations even have to be listened to. It's the developers and architects who work for them that create both bad designs and bad revisions. It's because of this constant worrying about what the Planning Dept. will say that people don't try! Just do good work and you won't have to worry about a fight!
So, I'm very serious. Get my email from SS to either use yourself or to pass on to this specific developer. I've already talked with one of the architects on my short list above and we are both very open to working on a redesign. I love SF, and I simply hate to see such bad work. In my mind, it's a large reason why this city is going down the drain.
And for those who argue that SF doesn't need more housing - I don't what incorrect data I'm looking at to think differently than you, but I see a DECREASE in the population over the past few years, all while thousands of residential units go up in downtown towers, in Mission Bay and SOMA, etc. There are "For Rent" signs all over my neighborhood and I don't know a single person looking for an apartment. ??? Maybe I'm living in a different city, but I don't see a need for much more housing around here. Let alone housing that only the uber-rich can afford! Everyone I know couldn't afford the median home 5 years ago when it was $350k, so none of us are looking forward to the next development of units "starting in the low-$600s"!
Posted by: anony at March 3, 2008 3:36 PM
BernalDweller - forgot to add: you say, "choose to work below earning potential and then don't understand why the market is so competitive." Can you please explain? I'm getting the feeling that you are saying that I "choose" to not make enough money to afford these high-priced units? Maybe we should be friends so that I can turn down all of your requests to "hang-out" or "grab a bite to eat" because I'm working and don't plan on stopping until 3am. Then you'll understand the choices I've made.
I'm assuming, of course, that a "financial executive" makes a sh*tload of money. Like, truly astonishing sh*tloads of money. Like, so much money that people in Africa working everyday for a nickel would be amazed. Like, so much money that Indonesians with their average $100/month salaries would be dumbfounded. Or like so much that the average American, with their $35k/yr salary, would be jealous. I don't "choose" to make less than what is needed to own a home in SF. In fact, I do everything that I can, everyday, to make more money so that I can afford one. You should remember that, if you CAN afford a median unit, YOU are the one in the minority. I'm not saying that you should feel bad for making so much money, but how dare you say that we "choose" to not - like we're LAZY! Far from it, buddy.
Posted by: anony at March 3, 2008 4:01 PM
Thanks for the wonderful input 'anony'.
I'm impressed to hear that someone else is thinking/committing to a 're-design' on this project, too.
I was thinking about this project (again) today as i was riding out of GGPark. And was certain that i would do whatever i could to encourage the city to build an inspired piece of archtecture on this corner. The Haight (and the city) deserve as much. Something with a strong architectural integrity should be the primary goal here, IMHO.
I missed the most recent planning meeting, unfortunately. I'm a local landscape designer. And while i'm not an 'architect'.. i'd like to get involved with supporting a different vision and a different idea for this corner. The city shouldn't be so hasty to want to develop this corner -- especially if we're going to end up with crap architecture like this.
There has to be another option. Another way. I took a look at Antonaros website.. and this project has to be the most hack(ed) up he's done recently. He should be thinking 'residential of his career!' at this point. or..whichever architect gets this project will undoubtedly have to go beyond appeasing 'neighborhood activists' to get something amazing built. The Haight belongs to all of San Francisco. I think it'd be incredibly stupid to fall short on this project. So I'm committed to broadening this process.. and working on a better solution.
Posted by: Gabriel at March 3, 2008 7:14 PM
Evening, Anony. This took me an hour to write and went through several edits - yeah, you pissed me off, which I think was your intent.
What makes you think your first purchase could possibly be a "high priced unit"? What I said was that many are not willing to purchase a first home (or condo or TIC) that is less than their dream. I see it all over this site, and all over this city. "Oooh...district 10 (or 9)...scaaaary." "Oh, I won't live south of California St." Give me a friggin' break. That's not the way it works. My grandparents, my parents, my brothers and sisters all taught me that your first home is NEVER even close to your ideal...you make huge compromises, you scrape, you scratch and you save so you can build equity, and then move up, if you're lucky, and your career progresses. That's all I said. That's what I did, too. I bought a VERY SMALL condo that my partner and I could squeeze into for 5 years until I was in the position to buy something a bit bigger (1200 sf in Bernal - not exactly a palace, but it was renovated and it has a nice garden - and yes, we're very happy here). It took me 15 years to save up my first down payment, and then I struggled to even afford that. I hope someday to afford something better, but if we retire and this is the last house we have, then that's fine too...again, we're happy here (and considering the market, it's doubtful I'm gonna make much on the house we're in). Oh, and by the way, lest you think we are DINK's, forget it. He has not been able to work for many years...and that's all I'll say about that.
I've worked my ass off for 29 years- probably have passed you on the street at midnight leaving my job, too. I haven't had the luxury of "hanging out" for at least 15 years. Been fired, have worked two jobs at a time, have had to move away from SF to keep jobs TWICE, and oh, just two weeks ago, got eliminated AGAIN - landed on my feet, thank god. I am pushing 50, and am struggling to stay at the same salary I've been at for 5 years now. Life's tough all over...I'm not unique. Perhaps I overstated the "financial executive" thing - I'm struggling with a bit of professional self esteem since the layoff. I make far from your description, and again, I'm supporting both myself and my partner. Put it this way. My salary is LESS than a very young professional couple both making the median SF salary...and that's exactly who I was competing with to purchase real estate in this town...double income young couples half my age who will far outearn what my partner and I are now living on. If you think that's rich, you're out to lunch. I have a hunch you earn more than I do with your two jobs and all.
I was not saying you are lazy - far from it...you brought your credentials, and you are clearly not lazy and clearly intelligent. What I was railing against, if anything, is the sense of entitlement. I know many people who work non-profits in this town and then complain that they aren't paid much. News flash...if you want to make money, don't work for government, and don't work for a non-profit. I love the people who truly want to help out... you can tell who they are because they are not bitching about real estate. They're bitching about poverty and disease - and bully for them. But it's a choice.
No one is entitled to a "high priced unit", or anything else, "buddy". If you want to own, then make it happen...if you regret that you should have done it earlier, wait a year or so...Case/Schiller will be at 150 soon.
Posted by: BernalDweller at March 3, 2008 11:16 PM
BernalDweller - my intent was not to piss you off, but your earlier comments certainly sounded like they were saying that people who couldn't afford real estate in SF just weren't trying hard enough. And I've heard that sort of comment from people on SS before, so I apologize if you did not mean that. I now understand where you were coming from. A few points, though: when I say "high priced unit," I'm not saying that I'm above living in a small space in the Bayview - quite the contrary. I want a horrible, run down unit! I'm an architect, and I dream of having a place that I can express my personal design. It would also be a tremendous help to my career to have portfolio quality design to show potential clients. Problem is, EVERYTHING in SF is a "high priced unit" - period. To even find a $200k, 400 sf studio would still be a "high priced unit." Let's keep in mind, San Franciscans, that the rest of this country, let alone world, is living in housing costing a fraction of what SF housing does. I, for one, don't see any more "value" in SF dirt than in Boise dirt. Many would argue, but I don't see it. A 2x4 is a 2x4 where ever you go. I do, however, get the impression that you bought back in the days when prices were more in line with incomes, so I have less sympathy for you. That's great for you, but I'd like all people as lucky as you to consider how much harder it is for someone in their 20s or early 30s (like me). It's plain, outright impossible (without Mommy and Daddy, that is). It would especially be nice for those people to remember this when they are deciding what price to list their house at. Owners (in their 50s and 60s or not) are so hell-bent on selling their house for $1 million plus, that they don't seem to realize those prices aren't obtainable by my generation or younger. I'd love it if I could use you to help me do the math - what percentage of your income was your "starter home" condo purchase? How much did you have to save up? What are your monthly mortgage payments and how does that relate to today's salaries? I'd love to know this information. I have a strong feeling from these past few years that a home purchase today is terribly skewed from what your purchase was. Case in point - a good friend of mine owns a nice loft in Potrero. About 1500 sf, 2 bed, 2 bath, parking... She bought 10 years ago for around $350k and had worked hard to save over 20% for a down payment. Her monthly payments are about $1200. We are both in the same career and I made the same salary as her at the same level of experience (I was just finishing college when she bought, so I never thought of buying back then, but probably could have myself, minus the opportunity to work and save a down payment). To buy that same condo today would cost about $900k (neighbors have sold for this and she's thinking about selling and listing for even more). That equates to 3x the down payment and monthly payments of $5000k! Yeh, hold on, she's paying $1200/month but I'd have to pay $5000/month for the same home? Her payments are 25% of her salary but mine would be 110%!!! (We pull in about the same salary now). She worked hard and saved $80k, but I'd need to save $200k??? How is that REASONABLE? I see the same thing happening in commercial too. I live in the Castro - great street, shops, bars, etc. A few 50/60-something guys own most of the bars and shops. When something has been put up for sale recently, they ask millions for it! The younger generation can't afford millions! I think that's unfair and greedy. When they were 30 years old and wanted to open a store or a bar, I would guess that their rent was likely a fraction of their income (I could be wrong). But today, the prices they want are many MULTIPLES of the average income. That's why you don't see young people investing in their community. That's why you see Pottery Barn going into storefronts instead of a mom & pop business - corporate chains are the only thing that can afford those prices. I'll bet anyone that this will be the main downfall of San Francisco.
I've written enough for one night - I think that we are very much on the same side. I'd like to close, though, by commenting on your "sense of entitlement" view. I think that everyone should be entitled to own a home in SF! Government workers, non-profit workers, teachers, lawyers, everyone. Housing is THE American dream. It is also a necessity for life. Not everyone should get a penthouse at the St. Regis, that should take more work. But average work should DEFINITELY be able to get you that fixer-upper in Noe Valley. (Remember that one on SS a 1-2 months ago that wound up selling for $950k-ish). Too many people in this city work their a** off everyday and still don't come close to affording a house. That's not their fault, it's the greed that has taken over this city in the last few years that has priced them out. Salaries aren't going up, so that means prices need to come down. I'm happy for you that you own, but if and when you decide to sell, it would be nice if you could think about more than just becoming an instant millionaire.
Posted by: anony at March 6, 2008 1:41 AM
ah anony...let your true colors show. are you proposing price limits? do you think the soviets or chinese came up with a good method for allocating scarce housing by abolishing greed? do you think people should not try to profit as much as the market will allow? sounds like its only greedy when its someone else who is making the money.
if you want to get on the ladder you can start across the bay and work your way up. but i warn you that its a rough and tumble world out there outside the ivory tower of architecture- and you know what they say; more learnin' means less earnin'.
Posted by: paco at March 6, 2008 10:33 AM
Some numbers, Anony. When I first bought, I was mid-thirties. I put 5% down on a $350,000 condo south of market. And it seemed ASTRONOMICAL. As I recall, my payments, including taxes and insurance, after tax (gotta compare after tax to rental equivalents) were about $2,100/mo. (gross were about $2,600/mo.) At the time I bought, our rent for a two bed/one bath flat in the Castro was $1,900/mo. So it made pretty good sense. Yeah, I made a profit on the sale after five years, and it all went into the house we have now. My current house payments (again w/taxes and insurance, after tax) are about $3,250. This is all just fyi.
You have a lot of things working for you now...for one, you're young, and two, your earnings, with luck and hard work, will increase. Three, rates are pretty low right now...that's the wild card that could work against you...if inflation keeps creeping in, rates will rise and wipe out much of the lower pricing...welcome to the 70's. My gut tells me you'll be in a place of your own within three or four years, if you save your down payment. Prices will continue to seriously fall...I'm not kidding about Case/Schiller at 150. Paco is also correct. You should seriously consider Oakland. I did, at the time...in fact, was convinced I could NEVER afford the city, and was looking exclusively in Oakland/Berkeley, but then my little condo wagged its tail.
Prices will fall back to a certain equilibrium...they have to...but SF has never been cheap relative to income, at least in the 20-odd years I've lived here. I have worked out a model that I believe to be accurate, and I see prices continuing to fall until spring 2010. There may be a little bump this spring, but it won't last.
You're correct to be mad at the disequilibrium over the last 6 years. Just wait a bit longer, and you'll be quite happy, I'm sure. Start shopping around NOW so you get a really, really good feel for where you want to be and what the market is offering.
Thanks (sincerely) for the give and take, and good luck.
Posted by: BernalDweller at March 6, 2008 10:18 PM
For a building overlooking a park the windows really don't do it justice. I agree that there definitely needs to be more 2 bedroom+ for families. Right on the park and only studios an 1 bedrooms is very sad. More color on the building would be good too if it is already destined to happen. Hopefully they are still planning to modify it more to actually fit the neighborhood.
Posted by: resident at March 11, 2008 11:58 AM
Wow, this just crossed my radar. I live at Stanyan and Parnassus.
What hideous architecture! Agreed that a development is not an offense against humanity on this lot, but if the neighborhood doesn't speak up about this eyesore, it will be living with it for decades and maybe forever. Given its scale (huge), it's worse than those condo abortions further up on Haight at Cole. The "quality touches" are reminiscent of those awful condos at Clayton and 17th. The rest of it owes a lot to the shopping-center architecture of South Bay and LA. It should be holding hands with the McDonald's across the street, except we have a prayer that some day that McDonald's might disappear.
If the neighborhood doesn't push developers to do better, they'll foist any cheap architectural cliche they want on the city. Look at all the cheepo condos built south of Market! I call them the slums of tomorrow. They're falling apart already.
Posted by: crabpaws at June 1, 2008 3:11 PM
The architect is Stephen Antonaros, who also designed the building housing Wells Fargo and a bunch of condos further east on Haight, at Cole.
The developer for the Wells Fargo project is the same developer for the Haight and Stanyan project: Mark Brennan of John Brennan Co. and, for the 690 Stanyan project, 690 Stanyan Street LLC.
The EIR for the project is posted at www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/690%20Stanyan%20DEIR%20Final.pdf
Posted by: crabpaws at July 29, 2008 6:40 PM
Re: mjp94117, what is to be done about architecture we don't like?
Answer: (1) don't buy it,
(2) purchase land and develop better buildings, and
(3) for heaven's sake, when a person in a ugly building invites you over for tea, refuse and explain it's because the sight of their building offends you.
You can also prevail upon the developer to redesign it. If you offer to pay for a redesign, he or she will likely agree.
Posted by: sfpup at August 1, 2008 6:03 PM