October 5, 2009

8 Washington: The City's Plan Which Nobody Seems To Love

Proposed 8 Washinton Site

With the successful sale of The Port of San Francisco’s Seawall Lot 351 hanging in the balance, the city is now trying to play peacemaker between Pacific Waterfront Partners’ and the neighborhood groups opposing the development of 8 Washington.

The city [recommended] varied height limits on the condo buildings at 8 Washington, starting at 45 feet at the Embarcadero and growing to the 84 feet the property is zoned for. It [suggested] the buildings be sculpted to preserve views of Coit Tower, including a maximum height of 35 feet for the redesigned athletic club.
The developer's plan calls for two 84-foot buildings with a total of 170 luxury condominiums, restaurants and shops on the ground floor, an underground parking garage and a 28,000-square-foot public park.

8 Washington Rendering

The athletic club, which was built in the 1960s when the Embarcadero Freeway loomed above it, would essentially be cut in half. However, its outdoor pools would be replaced by larger ones on the roof of a newly designed club. The change will allow pedestrian access to the waterfront from Jackson Street, which now ends at the club's 12-foot-high green cyclone fence.

According to the Chronicle, Pacific Waterfront Partners deemed the city’s proposed changes impractical while the chair of one of the opposing neighborhood groups simply said, "I thought [the city’s plan] stunk." Who would have thought the city could have found common ground so soon?

The 8 Washington Development Website: New And Improved! [SocketSite]
SWL 351 And The Proposed 8 Washington Street Project: Port Hearing [SocketSite]
The SocketSite Scoop On The 8 Washington Street Project [SocketSite]
City proposes plan for Embarcadero condos [SFGate]

First Published: October 5, 2009 8:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

This will never get built IMO.

Eventually this will be preserved as open space with the athletic facilities in place. I sure hope so anyway.

Last thing SF needs is more luxury condos.

Posted by: Gil at October 5, 2009 8:50 AM

So when a developer wanted to convert the SOMA Tennis Club, ol "I-80" Daly's warload Jim Meko (who is now running for Daly's D6 seat) came out of the woodwork and drummed up, or should I say trumped up, community support saying the the Tennis Club served a vital resource for community access to recreation. What a laugh that was since membership was like a grand plus a year! Anyway, you'll never hear that reason to turn back this proposal...its all about view, density, quality of life. Sometimes this City makes me wanna puke... but just sometimes....

Posted by: SOMA twist at October 5, 2009 9:41 AM

Gil - how in the world are parking lots and a private athletic club "open space?"

Bring on the luxury condos, at least they'll add more people and dollars to the city (and be more pleasant to look at than parking lots and 15 foot high green fences.

Posted by: anon at October 5, 2009 10:09 AM

Well, something will be built there, 100% guaranteed. With a multi-billion dollar shortfall, The Port certainly cannot afford this parcel to be open space, as much as that would be nice.

The Port's only revenue-generating option is to allow the parcel to be developed commercially or residentially and enter into very long-term leases.

By the way, unless some extremely rare agreement is made, no condos can be built on port land, as the port will not give up ownership. So if it were residential, it would be rental units...with the land on something like a 50 or 99-year lease to the port.

Posted by: anon at October 5, 2009 10:11 AM

anon - I believe the idea has been for some type of land swap/payout arrangement which does allow condos. Similar to what happened with the Watermark.

Posted by: anon at October 5, 2009 10:20 AM

This club is great and very well used. There are no other clubs like it in the area, so in a sense it is public use and once it is gone there will never be anything like it built because it will all be condos.

Posted by: Mr T at October 5, 2009 11:42 AM

I belong to this club, and certainly do not want to see 9 tennis courts reduced to 4. I also agree with Gil that we don't need any more luxury condos in SF.

Posted by: waiting2nest at October 5, 2009 11:49 AM

w2n, I belong to this club too and swim there a few times a week. I just down want to see the place shut down for a few years while they re-do it all!

Posted by: Trip at October 5, 2009 12:04 PM

Well, I can tell you something that probably won't get built on that site: underground parking. Way too close to the bay for that to be financially feasible.

Retaining tennis courts at ground level seems a bit odd also when they could be put on the roof of a two or three story building.

Hmmmm. Straw man?

Posted by: salarywoman at October 5, 2009 12:37 PM

Even what is proposed is so oddly squat compared to what is already there

Why do we pretend this isn't about protecting existing private views? We do protect them here.

Planning revolves around parking and views in SF

Posted by: zig at October 5, 2009 12:55 PM

The plan doesn't look that bad...but I just think luxury condos would be terribly out of place here.

There's plenty of space in rincon hill now...build me an athletic club!

Posted by: Rincon Hill Billy at October 5, 2009 1:02 PM

I'm sorry this is a private club on public land. There is no public benefit. It really is a sweetheart deal. The club as it stands now only benefits its members. If this was truly a public facility, development opponents might have a leg to stand on. Private tennis courts right on the Embarcadero on public land make no sense to me. I support some development here, because the port does need to generate money. That seems highly unlikely though. The best alternative then is turning the parking lot into open space and negotiating with the club to turn it into a public facility.

Posted by: Michael at October 5, 2009 1:16 PM

Either leave it be or build something tall. Or bold.

The development as depicted is just sad...

Posted by: BobN at October 5, 2009 2:31 PM

what a wimpy design for a most fabulous location. Get a design that can stand up to Coit Tower and the Pyramid in the background!

Posted by: joshua at October 5, 2009 4:32 PM

"Either leave it be or build something tall. Or bold."

"The development as depicted is just sad...
what a wimpy design for a most fabulous location. Get a design that can stand up to Coit Tower and the Pyramid in the background!"

I completely agree with both of the statements but this is San Francisco..."bold" and "tall" are just NIMBY fuel.

Posted by: spitpalm at October 5, 2009 5:03 PM

couldn't they just stack 9 tennis cours in some staggered fashion. the current club is wasting so much space, and you certainly can't call it open space unless the entire public can use the clubs. this would be a perfect lcoation for eminent domain

Posted by: spencer at October 5, 2009 6:57 PM

eeks. I'm glad I no longer live in those brick condos facing the ferry bldg. It would be devastating for the values of those condos. Sure there will still be pier views but the view to the clock tower and possibly the bay bridge would be blocked. Feel bad for the current owners of 550 Davis that is facing the waterside.....

Posted by: jaja at October 5, 2009 11:20 PM

The tennis club is a very nice amenity for the fortunate ones who can afford it but still, this is a world-class site that deserves a suitable use. Thongs of people walk and drive on the Embardcadero. The City side of the roadway is sadly lacking and the least appealing section is the fence of the tennis club. The site would certainly benefit from a handsome building (not the one depicted, please) with appropriate retail on the ground floor and housing above. A good design could set the tone for further development resulting in welcoming, cohesive "front door" to this beautiful city.

Posted by: DowntownGuy at October 6, 2009 8:43 AM

I'm also a member of that club, and I'm kind of torn on what they should do. On the one hand, this land could be better utilized given it's prime location. On the other hand, four tennis courts is way too few. It's already difficult to get a prime time court reservation there, and if it only has four courts - it's really not much of a tennis club anymore. I also disagree about moving the courts to the roof. Rooftop courts are windier, and it makes it harder to play quality tennis.

It would be great if they could figure out some way to keep more of the courts when they do the redesign.

Posted by: Lance at October 6, 2009 1:58 PM

I just wanted to say that that sailboat is too big.

Posted by: skipper at October 6, 2009 5:18 PM

The sailboat is not too big -- the friggin new building is too little. It looks so lonely out there by itself on the Embarcadero. SF has its head so far up its ass its not even funny. The design is actually decent here; but do you think a project on a great site like this would be so timid in any other major city water's edge in the world?

Posted by: citicritter at October 6, 2009 8:03 PM

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