June 12, 2009
Designs For The Castro’s "Hole In The Ground" (2299 Market Street)
As proposed, the Castro’s long vacant "hole in the ground" at 2299 Market Street (corner of 16th and Noe) would become a five-story mixed-use development with 18 residential units, 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 18 underground parking spaces.
And while the proposed Ian Birchall and Associates design has apparently been generating some neighborhood buzz by being rendered with what appears to be an Apple store in the retail space ("but those who have heard the design team's presentation said there was no indication given that a lease with the retailer had been signed"), that’s not what had us all abuzz (or perhaps bothered if you will).
No, it’s the difference between what’s currently proposed (below left) versus what appears to have once been on the boards (below right) that did that trick.
First Published: June 12, 2009 9:15 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
"NO CHAINS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! Oh wait, you mean Levi's and Apple want in? Okay that's cool, they're trendy enough. NO CHAINS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!"
Posted by: [Chains] at June 12, 2009 9:38 AM
Good thing they added some stucco and bay windows, or it never would have made it through planning.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 12, 2009 9:38 AM
Such a high-profile and visible location....such a horrible design. Wow, truly awful.
Posted by: CameronRex at June 12, 2009 9:44 AM
Keep the hole.
Posted by: Delancey at June 12, 2009 9:51 AM
A nod to San Francisco and neighborhood architecture is nice -- a full-on handshake would be more welcoming.
Posted by: livinintheloin at June 12, 2009 9:54 AM
Why do I always like the "original" designs, and then am dissappointed by what they end up being transformed into? Why must everything be changed to include bay windows and look so unimaginative?
Posted by: Justin at June 12, 2009 10:00 AM
Did anyone else notice the extensive comments from Brian Spiers about the Market and Buchanan development in the BAR article?
Posted by: Eric in SF at June 12, 2009 10:14 AM
The original design is much taller and never would have fit into the zoning for this site. Were they expecting to receive approval of the taller building? If not, why did they go to the effort of creating the original design. If so, why were they expecting to receive approval?
Posted by: Brutus at June 12, 2009 10:17 AM
Call me crazy but the design on the right is much better than the cookie cutter design (junk) on the left.
Posted by: Poor in PacHeights at June 12, 2009 10:19 AM
I like the taller original design better too. If the problem was the height of the building, couldn't a similar design be used on a shorter building ?
The design on the left is comparatively bland though likely a lot cheaper to build.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 12, 2009 10:25 AM
Honestly, I never thought I would say this, but I prefer the current hole to that POS Phoenix AZ homage to the nattering NIMBY San Francisco nativists.
The other design is WAY WAY WAY better. I would even speak at the planning hearing asking for the current design to not be approved.
Posted by: Joe at June 12, 2009 10:27 AM
Apple... The New Starbucks"
Posted by: Manuel Casanova at June 12, 2009 10:30 AM
The original design is much taller and never would have fit into the zoning for this site
that can't be the entire story, because they changed far more than just the height. those 2 buildings are NOTHING alike. It's like they proposed the Eiffel Tower, and when it didn't get through planning they put up a mobile home.
Initially I thought: "well at least SOMETHING is getting built, it's better than a hole in the ground"... and then I saw the original proposal. That's when you realize how terrible and bland the structures are that actually get through planning.
so you have to wonder, did the architectural firm just give up here??? I have a hard time believing both buildings were proposed by the same firm (except I have the apple logo to remind me).
Posted by: ex SF-er at June 12, 2009 10:30 AM
Oh, I wasn't defending the new proposal or anything, it just seems weird that the old proposal never would have worked height-wise unless they thought they were going to get an exemption. Why design something that you know you'll have to redesign unless you think you can shove it through in some way? And then why completely change the design for a lower height? The two really look nothing like each other.
I have a feeling that there's a lot more to this story than simply trying to appease the planning department.
Posted by: Brutus at June 12, 2009 10:39 AM
Like trying to appease a groundswell of neighbors up in arms about a building taller than 40 feet?
Entirely too much power is given to "anti" people in this town.
Posted by: Joe at June 12, 2009 10:42 AM
Too bad the Harvey Milk library (undergoing a $7m renovation) didn't move into this location as part of a mixed-use public/private partnership -- and sell its tucked-in spot a few doors down for development. The lib would have gained more visibility and the library location could have been developed with needed housing. (OK I know we need family housing, I'm not sure if we need more micro-sized condos). Portland & NY are doing innovative work along the lines of integrating land uses (including libraries, schools & housing in same structures).
Posted by: invented at June 12, 2009 10:50 AM
I would even speak at the planning hearing asking for the current design to not be approved.
Watch "Joe" turn into a NIMBY.
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 11:23 AM
Why not? NIMBYS have been gaming the system for years - invoking EIR's and appealing to the BOS just because a building would block their view.
This design would be a waste of a great site.
Posted by: Joe at June 12, 2009 11:28 AM
Ouch. That's one way of living up to the interesting ibadesign domain name.
Posted by: kaya at June 12, 2009 11:43 AM
I think most NIMBY's act out of concern for their neighborhoods, anxious not to see bad designs built on prominent sites, and not out of concern for their views.
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 11:47 AM
And anyway, the ones who show up at the Planning Commission to complain about their view getting blocked get nowhere.
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 11:49 AM
Thats the most disney view of what happens at our planning commission and BOS appeals meetings that I have ever heard.
I attend these meetings regularly, and the view thing comes up over and over again and yes theoretically views are not protected - but in this town they are. Time and time again the BOS upholds an appeal based on views. I watched while an entire remodel of a motel on lombard was scuttled by the BOS because two neighbors who lived behind the project would lose their views/light/air.
Out of concern for the neighborhood. Funniest thing Ive heard all week
Posted by: Joe at June 12, 2009 11:55 AM
Like trying to appease a groundswell of neighbors up in arms about a building taller than 40 feet?
The site is zoned for 50', so I doubt that the neighbors would get far if they're looking to keep it at 40'. However, if we're trying to get to something closer to "by-right" development, who is more wrong - the neighbors who want to decrease height from the zoned 50 to 40, or the developer who wants to increase height from the zoned 50 to 80 (or whatever that original building is)?
I like the first building, I'm just curious as to why a developer would ever have put money into a design that the lot clearly was not zoned for in the first place. If I design a 60' building zoned for where my house is, I can't really blame neighbors for "shooting me down" when I've known all along that my lot is only zoned for 40'.
Posted by: Brutus at June 12, 2009 11:56 AM
I'd caution that while the rendering of the initial design - with its glass transparencies and reflections - looked great, it wsan't necessarily a realistic rendering. The new rendering is more honest.
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 12:00 PM
Joe - You are paranoid. 1960-1998 Market St was approved unanymously approved by the Planning Commission. 429 Main St was approved. 1650 Broadway was approved. All these projects faced very strong opposition from neighbors whose views will be blocked.
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 12:52 PM
Neighbors who want a project blocked or changed dramatically know how to play the game at both the planning commission and Board of Supervisors levels. If they want a project blocked because it would interfere with their views, they know how to couch their concerns in language and in ways that has/have actual connection to CEQA or whatever statute or municipal code comes in handy.
In fact, if I had a whole lot of extra cash to throw around, I'd love to buy that cottage at 1448 Kearny at asking price, and walk through the entire painful process of getting a permit to demolish it and replace it with a two or three story structure.
I'd also hire a budding documentary film making student from S. F. State to film the entire process from beginning to end, including the neighbors who would have their views blocked fulminating at the podium during a planning commission meeting about everything that was wrong with modifying that house while not just coming out and saying that they didn't want their windows blocked.
The could show the resulting movie at those seminars entitled "What You Need to Know Before You Can Get Your Remodel Project Approved" at the The Berkeley Building Education Center. Who needs reality TV?
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at June 12, 2009 1:03 PM
I'm not sure where the so-called "original" design came from, but it was never proposed to neighborhood groups, to my knowledge. The "new" design (and some earlier, rather similar, iterations) are all I've ever seen, going back many months.
I haven't heard of anyone that loves the currently-proposed design, but it is likely to get approved, more or less in its current form.
Signs have gone up at the project site seeking commercial tenants; to my knowledge, the Apple logo on the renderings is just wishful thinking on the developer's part.
The real drama here is likely to revolve around parking. Somehow, this site was inadvertently excluded from being part of the Market Octavia Plan area, and so it is subject to older zoning, including 1:1 parking. Some neighborhood activists want the project to comply with the more restrictive .5:1 parking allowed under Market Octavia zoning, particularly given the project's location on a major transit corridor. Expect fireworks.
Posted by: Dubocer at June 12, 2009 1:07 PM
Yup [flaneur], I'm paranoid.
Three projects approved - in a city of 850k people.
Yup, definitely everything getting proposed is sailing through our incredibly easy and sure footed entitlement process.
San Francisco is a walking talking Christopher Guest movie.
Posted by: Joe at June 12, 2009 1:25 PM
What is wrong with Bay windows? They bring in extra light and add some rhythm to a facade.
Also, the renderings are difficult to read, but as crisp as the first (older) design is, I don't see a lot of large windows on the side facade. if you were actually LIVING in a condo in the building, instead of being amateur architecture critics, I would bet you would prefer the more realistic second design, bland as it may be.
Posted by: bk at June 12, 2009 1:28 PM
What a shame that something so hideous could end up on such a prime site. Most probably don't remember the approved design for the AIDS center that was going to be built here in the mid-90's - that was a handsome building with the art work that the neighbors want. This is just the same old SF junk - a product of decades of bad planning code decisions and the politics of trying to build anything here. When will we ever learn...
Posted by: jonathan at June 12, 2009 1:56 PM
The main reason projects are delayed at the Planning Commission is because developers come asking for height and density variances, and rearyard, parking and bulk exemptions.
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 2:58 PM
To which I'll add: Why can't they play by the rules?
Posted by: flaneur at June 12, 2009 2:59 PM
There was a church I think were the hole is now, and the basement was a performance space. I recall seeing a Sam Sheppard play there. Might have been the premier of "Buried Child" by the Magic Theater???
Posted by: redseca2 at June 12, 2009 3:09 PM
jeez. MORE cookie cutter design for SF !
just spent some time in Seattle -- and the architecture is looking more daring and, shall i say, contemporary, up there. something like this new building going up in Capitol Hill in Seattle would be more interesting in this particular location on Market. the actual building has bolder coloring than this photo represents. it also has a rooftop deck with trees, etc. http://www.abollendesign.com/blog/uploaded_images/1111epike-764611.jpg san francisco better start demanding more inventive architecture !
Posted by: gabriel at June 12, 2009 7:11 PM
here's the archtects link to the Seattle condo structure. imo, it is a bold and intelligent statement -- and san francisco is really lacking that in its 'infill' development.
Posted by: gabriel at June 12, 2009 7:23 PM
I much prefer the first design to the second. But for this site I think the building in the first design is too high.... It would look out of place compared with the other buildings on that side of the street (though it would fit in on the other side of Market).
The only thing I like about the latest design is the height. Though if it were actually built, every time I passed it my head would always be looking down while I puke my guts out.
I say keep the Christmas trees there.
Posted by: StockBoySF at June 12, 2009 7:34 PM
Because the rules in SF are overly restrictive and have resulted in the creation of a minimum amount of housing over the past decade. The rules need to be changed. Decades of planning for the people who have no jobs, and can attend planning sessions during the day have pushed prices in SF through the roof - have extended housing further into open space around the bay area - and virtually ensured that SF becomes more "white-washed"
If the people in charge of rebuilding SF after 06 had the attitude of the people that live here now, we would be living in a thomas kinkaide painting.
Posted by: bob Tt at June 12, 2009 7:51 PM
How did the developer on Market/Buchanan keep his design from being watered down to the lowest common denominator? He went through months of neighborhood design issues yet still was able to retain most of his projects original daring architectural theme. SF needs to let architects express themselves on urban infill projects like we see in other cities all over the world. Matching existing, boring context will only add to the current blandness of Market Street.
Posted by: sfnerd at June 13, 2009 8:31 AM
Gosh, the building in the left is absolutely awful. This city just barfs at anything remotely imaginative. So damn upsetting.
Posted by: Sashok at June 13, 2009 12:21 PM
Gosh, the building in the left is absolutely awful. This city just barfs at anything remotely imaginative. So damn upsetting
Did you not read the comment directly above your own? There's a terrific development that's green lighted just down the street.
Posted by: anonn at June 13, 2009 3:10 PM
The left building looks like every other new developments in SF. BORING with capital B. The one on the right is much more interesting.
Posted by: jaja at June 15, 2009 1:20 AM
RE: the Seattle Project. Anyone notice it is twice as tall as the buildings around it. Hmm. Maybe Seattle is a city not a parochial village. To the SF NIMBYs - why would anyone think that because 100 years ago when SF had a population of a couple of hundred thousand, 40' buildings were built, that today 40' buildings are what should be built? Following that logic, we should only allow sand dunes in the city. Cities are living, growing organisms. Freeze dry them, and you get Venice - a lovely place to visit, but no one actually lives there (population is down to 60,000) and there are no jobs except waiting on tables, selling trinkets, and making beds.
Posted by: Jim at June 15, 2009 9:17 AM
Unlike Venice, which is an extreme example, San Francisco's population was increasing up until this recent economic downturn. I'm not even certain it's decreasing yet either. I'm judging based off a recent experience. I happened by an apartment open house at 24th and Valencia the other day. A one bedroom was going for $1550, without parking, and the place was PACKED. I mean literally right at the little alley there, Rondel or whatever it's called. All these SF demise comments which populate this website are without any base in reality IMO. I guess maybe the place went for more three years ago, sure. But $1550 for the center of the Mission without parking is not something on its last gasp.
Posted by: anonn at June 15, 2009 9:32 AM
I'm agnostic about taller buildings in SF, although the earthquake issues are certainly a concern (a friend who is a seismologist for the state told me you could not pay him to live in One Rincon notwithstanding the talk about it being bolted to bedrock).
Note that Paris has done a fine job of handling density without building a mass of skyscrapers and it is geographically smaller than SF by almost 20%. One option is to increase density in the western half of the city. It does not have to be nearly exclusively SFRs out there.
By the way, My wife and I looked at a nondescript 1BR in the inner mission w/o parking 11 years ago for $1500. The place was swamped and we did not get it. That was one of the reasons we stopped our rental search and bought instead -- came out ahead financially immediately.
Posted by: Trip at June 15, 2009 10:09 AM
By the way, My wife and I looked at a nondescript 1BR in the inner mission w/o parking 11 years ago for $1500.
Sure you did, Trip. Sure you did.
-- A Mission Landlord 11 years ago
Posted by: anonn at June 15, 2009 10:35 AM
fluj, we had this same conversation more than a year ago and others corroborated my experience. Sorry, but my memory is quite good.
Posted by: Trip at June 15, 2009 10:45 AM
I rented a 2 br out for $1800 in 1998 and it was viewed as a coup at the time. I don't need Socketsite to validate what I know about the things you say.
Posted by: anonn at June 15, 2009 10:52 AM
Well, it was a coup -- $1800 for a 2BR during that time period was a great deal. Your experience is consistent with my point.
Posted by: Trip at June 15, 2009 11:08 AM
Inner Mission? No parking? We had just rented, ourselves as tenants, a 4 br in Lower Haight the year before for $1700. Your point is consistence with my experience.
Posted by: anonn at June 15, 2009 11:21 AM
"A nod to San Francisco and neighborhood architecture is nice -- a full-on handshake would be more welcoming."
How about giving it the finger? SF architecture, and the architecture around that area is largely "turn of the century crumble". Like so much of SF, it might have been charming 80 years ago, but it just looks sad and decrepit. Except for a few corners of the city, I'm largely embarrassed to show people around this city. Squatters in Buenos Aires shanty towns appear to take more pride of ownership than >50% of SF homeowners.
Posted by: S.w. at June 15, 2009 12:31 PM
S.w. No problem, just take your guests to South Beach with its beautiful new architecture.
Posted by: flaneur at June 15, 2009 1:25 PM
who cares!?! just put something in that ground hole.
Posted by: chicochango at July 8, 2009 9:29 AM