December 2, 2008
JustQuotes: And We'll Add Agents And Investors
"This is San Francisco's newest frontier: the east edge of Mission Bay, a redevelopment district that has advanced in fits and starts for 20 years. The gap-toothed topography doesn't signal failure. Rather, it demonstrates how economic cycles move at their own pace, no matter what planners or politicians might want."
First Published: December 2, 2008 7:45 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Yeah, I've never heard a planner admit to getting in the way of market timing. If entitlement and building permits took 1-2 years instead of the 4-5, it would be much easier work within cycles.
Posted by: Dede at December 2, 2008 8:23 AM
I know it's popular to bash the planning department. The decision to develop is a long-lasting land-use choice (50 to 100 years). Each development has effects on neighboring land uses. I'm not troubled about taking some time to think these things through.
Real estate development cycles seem to oscillate over much shorter time-frames. For a case study in how the highest and best use of a site can change several times over a short period, look at 535 Mission Street. Or 250 Brannan, which traded several times at increasing prices over a period of several years when the building had no tenants (and flipped back and forth between office and residential proposals).
We tend to let the market determine how real estate will be improved and used. However, markets can be very jumpy and short-sighted...and they don't deal well with unpriced externalities.
Posted by: SausalitoRes at December 2, 2008 9:06 AM
Much has to do with the lot sizes involved, and also design restrictions and reviews. Mission Bay has mostly been developed with large lots in order to sell to big developers and big tennants and to keep the density high and the planning under control. If the area had been primarily split into a large number of smaller lots around 25'x50' with no great constraint on what gets built except some reasonable height limit, then there would be many more small buildings developed. With smaller lots and buildings it is easier to speculate and redevelop in response to market changes. Larger lots means larger developments, larger loans, more opportunities for delay or failure, and increased difficulty and slowness with any changes or redevelopment.
There may be good reasons for having done things this way, but this methodology is at odds with San Francisco history as are the results.
Posted by: Mole Man at December 2, 2008 9:19 AM
I think Mole Man has a good point. I would throw in that the big bolock pattern makes Mission Bay feel inhuman and uncomofrtable in scale.
Posted by: bk at December 2, 2008 10:14 AM
I think Mission Bay as a whole is a refreshing change from old SF. I think the planning dept. has been proactively thinking about the future and not worried about the past and what SF was. I believe this is a smart approach. They need to be looking at what the SF landscape will look like 20-30 years from now and what will allow this city to continue to be a cutting edge progressive town that will attract new residents and businesses. I feel Mission Bay is a great attempt at securing this future. Of course the buildings lack some of the charm of the victorian flats in old SF but I think it is the right approach for the future of San Francisco.
Posted by: Karl & Lenny at December 2, 2008 12:09 PM
That thing above the safeway on 4th and King is just so LAME.. yes.. LAME is the perfect word I would describe it. And it's not the only one in the area either. Who would pay almost $1,000,000 to live in THAT? Arterra is nice, and the Avalon next door is coming along well, it looks like 2 city blocks made of legos, and I like that the architects at least tried and gave us something nice to look at here. King street has a lot of attractive newer brick buildings that I really do enjoy. But that thing on 4th and King is something we're going to have to live with for many years, to my dismay, and many others, unfortunately.
Posted by: sf at December 2, 2008 4:56 PM
I live in that LAME building you described, and the outdoor pool, 2 hot tubs, party clubhouse, dogpark, large gym, and direct access to Safeway are just a couple reasons I choose to live there. Oh, not to mention my private 500 sq. ft. patio that I get to enjoy, and can comfortable BBQ on, and have a table that can have at least 6 people, sun lounge chairs, storage, and plenty of room for other stuff. I challenge you to find nearly a fraction of that in the other buildings you described, which you won't.
Aesthetic looks and architectural style is always a matter of opinion. I personally think Arterra looks nice, but my wife can't stand it. I do think the new Avalon building is neat, albeit huge, and certainly better than the other two white concrete avalon buildings. I think the Beacon is certainly not a bad building to look at from street level, and although it may not win any architectural awards, it definitley looks better than a lot of the other new bldgs they're putting up (aka 188 king), and it's amenities far surpass most.
Posted by: ks at December 8, 2008 2:48 PM