900 Folsom/260 Fifth: Project Site
Avant Housing, a joint venture between AGI Capital and TMG Partners, has launched a website providing some unique insight into the development process and soliciting community feedback for a trio of interconnected buildings in the works at 900 Folsom/260 Fifth Street.

The two adjacent parcels at 900 Folsom Street and 260 Fifth Street are the locations of a new mixed-use development project. What is currently a large surface parking lot, office building and adjoining small parking lot, will be transformed into a transit oriented, green, residential project. Airy 19 foot high, neighborhood-serving retail will be located at the ground level.

The two buildings, which are aiming to be LEED Gold certified, will bring 466 units, 466 parking spaces, and over 10,000 square feet of retail to the neighborhood.
900 Folsom/260 Fifth: Draft Design
And while Architecture International is driving the exterior design, here’s where it gets really interesting:

Word on the street is that the project sponsor has not designed the [interiors of the units] yet, and will be eventually using this site [for] polls on different floor plans, types of stone for counters, appliance brands, public amenity space, etc.. And the winners will actually be constructed. The American Idol of condos…

Actually involving potential buyers early on in the design process? What a novel concept. And a big hallelujah (and it’s about time) assuming they can actually pull it off.
900 Folsom & 260 Fifth Street [900folsom.com]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Gotta love those Parisian dimensions. 7 floors of residential above retail. In my opinion, this is the optimal urban density.

  2. Posted by Spencer

    Awesome. Finally something to get excited about!! Any estimates on project completion date?
    will this fit into my Q2-Q4 2010 buying timeframe?

  3. Posted by hugh

    Wow. That satellite photo shows Soma’s desperate need for trees. What a concrete jungle. and the developer’s rendering adds only three.

  4. Posted by zzzzzzzz

    Great news, but will it come to fruition? How far has it gone in the entitlement process, and how much opposition will it face for all the usual reasons (gentrification, loss of industrial land, etc. etc. etc.)?

  5. Posted by natomahead

    This project reminds me of the 8th & Harrison project: http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/westernsoma/documents/SiteStudyBusYard_ArchStoneSmith.pdf
    I’m glad to see projects like this being proposed. I like the 19ft retail heights better than the 10ft proposed for 8th & Harrison though.

  6. Posted by livinintheloin

    Participatory planning is great! The renderings look McCondo-esque.

  7. Posted by San fronziScheme

    I always wondered about these new SOMA projects: what do they do in terms of earthquake protection regarding glass surfaces. There’s tons of glass in the air on that one in particular. Anyone knows what would happen? What kind of glass do they use?

  8. Posted by Mole Man

    That area is really changing fast. The trees that went in along Folsom made a huge difference even as they are, and they appear to be growing well and holding up okay. Directly across the street from this is the condo that will replace the last sweat shop building that is next to the porn store. With all the new occupants this is a whole new kind of neighborhood. There is also a big new condo building across Tehama from the 900 Folsom building and adjacent to the other. Then the upzoning along Fourth a block away will start to kick in. Imipressive urban expansion in progress!
    The dimensions are good, but just a little bit more setbacks like the building going in across the street would be wonderful. It is mostly a glass box, but the rainbow color striping thing ads a lot. More of that kind of treatment might be nice. Agreed that this is urban density the way it should be done.
    The community design input looks like a huge win. Already approved changes include a lot of good stuff including the retail parts and breaking up of the Folsom facing into three elements. That and the other changes should make this a much more practical building. In this particular location 1:1 parking seems a wise choice even if it does strain the design or budget.
    This is very exciting!

  9. Posted by Brutus

    This is a great looking project – excellent level of density (like someone else said, 7 floors above retail is the perfect urban density).
    I would really like to see wider sidewalks on 5th though – take a lane of traffic and widen by 4-6 feet on both sides of the street. Right now the sidewalks are dangerously narrow. Good things traffic-wise are already supposedly coming to Folsom, so we’ll see. And like hugh said, also add more trees on both sides.

  10. Posted by condoshopper

    It should be all tempered glass, so when it breaks, it shatters into small pieces of rubbles, instead of wide shards that can really cut.

  11. Posted by NickSwish

    I hope that AGI learned its lesson with the SOMA Grand. Maybe big brother TMG will help them along.

  12. Posted by Richie Cunningham

    Not exciting at all but very American Idle – like allowing the audience to pick the song that the next talentless half-wit will sing. These boxes look like every other cookie cutter loft-like apartment in SOMA. They’ll be lucky to attract a Quiznos and Supercuts in the retail space.

  13. Astute bunch these socketsiters… In response to some of the inquiries, we hope to go to the planning commission by the end of the year, if all goes well, the units will be near completion 3 years from now. We have been working with the community now for nearly a year and hopefully their input is evident, with the nod to the industrial elements traditionally found in SoMa. We are also trying to achieve LEED Gold or equivilent, don’t be surprised to see helix like wind turbines on the PV roofs. Comments welcome at 900folsom.com

  14. Posted by 12-Folsom Rider

    Hey, I work on this block…
    The good: More density, shops and pedestrians hopefully will drive the drug dealers out. Making Folsom a 2-way street will be even better!
    The bad: The construction in all directions all at once is gonna drive me nuts! I hope they can get this done quickly.
    The ugly: Just yesterday, I was at that corner, and there was a cake on the sidewalk shaped like a big chocolate booty in a gold thong!

  15. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Chocolate booty cakes and get-rich-quick spam, just another day in SF.
    [Editor’s Note: Spam junked. The “booty cakes” are up to y’all.]

  16. Posted by Tehama

    As a resident of neighboring Tehama, and an opponent — along with several of my good neighbors — of the awful part of the project slated to replace the Bill Graham Presents building between Clementina and Tehama, I can tell you (a) the “Half Wit” developer’s claim to have worked with the neighboring community for a year is greatly overstated — the work with the community has consisted of presenting the project to exactly one meeting of our neighborhood association; and (b) I don’t think our input will be welcome anymore once the planning process commences; they won’t get their 9 stories of bland with barely any street level retail without a fight (ask them about the lovely ass-end of the parking garages with which they plan to “beautify”/invigorate Clementina).

  17. Tehama, we hope you will join the 2nd design open-house where we will be presenting our next iteration of designs for further community input, including yours. It will be following the next Clementina Cares board meeting. Perhaps you can also advise which association you belong to so that we can schedule further presentations. Lastly, responding to neighborhood requests, we plan to line Clementina with townhomes that have street access and extensive plans for improving the alley in concert with the SOMAPAC goals. (btw, Bill Graham Presents is now owned by Live Nation and independently determined it wanted to relocate its offices and put the property on the market).

  18. Posted by candid manner

    Holy sheisse, it looks just like The Palms on steroids.
    For at least two years The Western Soma Citizens Planning Taskforce has been actively discussing and developing a broad neighborhood consensus on appropriate scale and character to guide future development in this area. This project seems oblivious to key goals of the planning effort. If this is the future of Soma I’ll take the next exit please.

  19. Posted by dg

    AGI got and is still getting its ass kicked on their condo conversion of Baywoods – an Antioch apartment complex of hundreds of units. Hopefully they make better decisions moving forward…

  20. Posted by soapbox derby

    The Developer’s whole approach to this design process is really just window dressing in an attempt to sell it to the local community and planning department. While engaging the local community to participate is encouraging, their only real motivation is getting their approvals with the least amount of pain (time and expense) and moving on. They are not really interested in providing better design. For example, polling the audience on the interior design? Talk about design by committee! Then, there is the large cookie cutter non-descipt glass box. Maybe it’s just the rendering, but where’s the character and warmth? This looks like it came straight from South Beach Miami.

  21. Posted by Enthano

    How can something be LEED gold (with possible “green” features such as wind turbines) and have 1:1 parking?

  22. Posted by invented

    I like, however a solid wall up from street will close in on Folsom and create an unneeded blocky look & feel. I’d rather maintain (or better, increase)density. Add 2 floors to height and require various setbacks. This is a superlative car-free potential location and we need to think tall but also not make Folsom a canyon. Folsom – yes, think wider sidewalks, greenery, bike lanes, and local vehicles only (permitted residents, service). Car-free city rising!

  23. Posted by flaneur

    Great location, with Mint Plaza and Yerba Buena nearby. The scale of the project provides a good transition from the Intercontinental to the traditional SOMA. The 19′ retail on the ground floor has character. It could host a cool restaurant and bar. Hopefully it will also host some light industrial use.

  24. Posted by Clementina

    I’ve gotta take exception to Tehama’s comment. The developers have been to multiple neighborhood meetings, I believe they actually attend on a monthly basis. And highlighting the sad state of our city’s developers, they actually showed up at one of our tree plantings on a Saturday morning. Don’t these guys have anything else to do, like not recycle and vote Republican. I want my soulless developers back!

  25. Posted by Spencer

    IMHo, this project is great. Western SOMA needs changing more than almost any part of SF. It is too close to the city center to be such a blight as it currently is.

  26. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Anything is better than a parking lot.

  27. Posted by sf

    Parking garages into and out of the alley is urban genius. And what is the ‘beauty’ that you see in the parking lot right now, Tehama, and how will cars coming and going out of a housing project be any different than coming and going out of a flat, chain linked parking lot?

  28. Posted by hahaha

    hmm. as of today, grubb/ellis “available” signs are up all over the former bill graham presents building. could this be the end of this project, or am i just wishful thinking?

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