November 5, 2009

Details To Augment Designs For "CityPlace" (935-965 Market Street)

CityPlace Proposal

Augmenting the designs we brought you a year ago, the Draft Environmental Impact Report for 935-965 Market Street (a.k.a. "CityPlace") is now online with all its gory details.

The building would be on the south side of Market Street, mid-block between Fifth and Sixth Streets. Stevenson Street forms the southern boundary of the site. The approximately 1.06-acre project site is on Assessor’s Block 3704, Lots 71, 72, and 73. It is in the C-3-G (Downtown General Commercial) and C-3-R (Downtown Retail) Zoning Districts and the 120-X Height and Bulk District.
The project site is developed with three mixed-use commercial and office buildings: 935-939 Market Street, 941-945 Market Street, and 947-965 Market Street. These buildings, which are currently vacant, would be demolished to make way for the new building. They contain a total of about 186,400 gross square feet (gsf) including approximately 11,900 gsf of retail space, 67,000 gsf of office space, 95,700 gsf of vacant entertainment space, and 11,800 gsf of mechanical, storage, and service space. The 935-939 Market building is 94 feet tall and has five stories; the 941-945 Market building is 30 feet tall and has two stories; and the 947-965 Market building is 45 feet tall and has two stories.
The proposed new building at 935-965 Market Street, named “CityPlace” by the project sponsor, would be five stories high and approximately 90 feet tall. It would have seven levels of retail space, including a mezzanine and subsurface level, and two subsurface levels of parking. A loading area and a vehicular driveway would be provided on the ground floor at the rear of the building; and a mechanical penthouse, including rooftop equipment, would be located above the fifth floor on the roof. Overall, the proposed project would involve construction of an approximately 375,700-gsf building, with about 264,010 gsf of retail uses; about 4,830 gsf of common areas; about 10,900 gsf of mechanical and storage space; and about 95,960 gsf of parking, loading, and driveways and maneuvering space. There would be 201 parking spaces, 21 bicycle parking spaces, and four loading spaces. The project would result in a net increase of about 189,300 gsf of developed space on the project site.
The project would require a Conditional Use authorization for parking in excess of permitted accessory parking and for demolition of a prior theater use; variances for oversized floor heights and for the width of the loading and parking access on Stevenson Street, and review and consideration by the Planning Commission of an exception to freight loading requirements under Planning Code Section 309. In addition, the proposed project would require permit and plan review by BART due to the project site’s proximity to the BART right-of-way under Market Street.

For those who are serious about cleaning up and changing Market Street, encouraging and allowing development and investment (versus signs) is the way.

The Designs For San Francisco's "CityPlace" (935-965 Market Street) [SocketSite]
Draft Environmental Impact Report: 935-965 Market Street [SFGov]
CityPlace (935-965 Market Street) [discovercityplace.com]
Single-Finger Sign Language From 8% Of All Registered Voters [SocketSite]

First Published: November 5, 2009 12:45 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

"For those who are serious about cleaning up and changing Market Street, investment and allowing development (versus signs) is the way."

Agreed, except for that part about the excess parking.

Posted by: dr. who at November 5, 2009 1:10 PM

Ridiculous amount of car parking and a ridiculously small amount of bike parking considering the location. Knock it down to (maybe) 30 car spaces and up the bike parking by at least five times, and it looks good. There are already numerous ginormous car parking garages in the area. No reason to encourage more cars to Mission or Market Street.

Posted by: anon at November 5, 2009 1:37 PM

It's ridiculous to put in all that parking! This City needs more underground openspace!!!!!

Posted by: BobN at November 5, 2009 1:43 PM

and convince Target to go there....

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 5, 2009 1:47 PM

why the call for less parking? where you guys park when you visit this area? yeah yeah, utilize our stellar muni transit right.

Posted by: condoshopper at November 5, 2009 1:47 PM

Hah-- to those who supported Prop. D: THIS is how you fix up an area, not with a bunch of electronic signs. Hell, it doesn't take a major new construction, either: fix up the old buildings and get some tenants. Cut them a great deal if you have to, move them in and let them bring activity to the area, which will lead to the area becoming a lot less sketchy. Doesn't seem like rocket science.

Posted by: Alexei at November 5, 2009 1:48 PM

Love the idea... and yes, the exactly what should happen on Market. What are the odds though of this coming to fruition?

My question: Will people still be actively shopping at retail outlets in 2020 when (and if) they open the doors?

Posted by: sleepiguy at November 5, 2009 1:57 PM

where you guys park when you visit this area?

Um, less than a block away is the 5th/Mission parking garage with more than 2500 parking spaces. Not to mention the more than 5000 parking spaces within another five blocks (around Union Square).

5th/Mission is never even close to full at current prices. On average, you're probably looking at 500 spaces unused during the day and more than 1500 unused at night.

Posted by: anon at November 5, 2009 2:07 PM

Boring front - no character. A solid glass wall built right to the sidewalk. Mediocre at best but par for the course for the "city that knows how".

Beyond that, is there a market for more retail space in SF? Especially as it is significantly removed from the core Union Square and Yerba Buena areas. Like where is the foot traffic going to come from?

It's not my money of course, but does this really make financial sense? Will it ever actually get built?

Posted by: Gil at November 5, 2009 2:16 PM

Excellent, an empty new building will be much better then the empty old buildings there now.

***

I think the more parking the better at this location. It should have fairly easy access to the freeways to the south so can help bring in some out of town shoppers if any stores ever open there that is.

Posted by: Rillion at November 5, 2009 2:18 PM

All the talk saying that it'll never fill with retailers is silly. From the sound of the plan, it seems the intention is to build a "mall" with large store plates intended for discount retailers and other big box stores. In other words, it's a development targeted at bringing in the exact kinds of stores that have had a really hard time finding sites in San Francisco. The kinds of stores San Franciscans drive to Daly City or Emeryville to shop in. I don't think there'll be any trouble filling it, I think parking on-site is necessary (a lot of people coming in from, like, the sunset to buy large quantities of goods), and I think it'll dramatically increase the amount of activity on that block while keeping tax dollars in the city. It's win/win, with the only real risk being how having these stores downtown will impact smaller retailers.

Posted by: Jason at November 5, 2009 2:40 PM

I find the parking arguments a bit funny.

Suburban Old Navies have vast amounts of parking. Suburban Macy's have vast amounts of parking. Suburban Ross Stores have vast amounts of parking. Yet...the largest Old Navy in the country, the largest Ross in the country, and the second largest Macy's in the country are within a couple blocks of this location - all without a single space of parking. Are Ross and Old Navy stores "destinations" for tourists or out-of-towners coming in? Are they hurting from not having their own parking? Are they high end?

Target or Walmart would kill for this location with or without parking and would do extremely, extremely well. The only problems are potentially political. There are no other reasons that they wouldn't want it.

Posted by: anon at November 5, 2009 3:05 PM

I'm torn over the amount of parking. I agree that on one hand this retail location is ideal for big-box discount stores, which often market merchandise that require a car for convenient transport. On the other hand, anyone who has driven downtown in normal shopping traffic, let alone during an event, knows how long it takes to navigate those streets. The customers best served are actually those who are used to taking mass transit (including taxis). If you need a car to transport the goods, you should consider having it delivered or better yet, ordering them online. It's the price of living in an urban environment: more logic and planning is required. I live in Mid-Market; I eagerly anticipate the completion of City Place and Trinity Place. If I had zillions to spend on Market St development, I'd put a entertainment complex (nightclub/performance venue/24-hour restaurant/retail) across from the Orpheum, between Trinity Place and the Odd Fellows building. (The Orpheum side badly needs help too.) Let the demolition begin!!

Posted by: SomaSoldier at November 5, 2009 3:15 PM

anon: I would imagine that New Yorkers aren't driving from the suburbs to Manhattan to shop the 34th St flagship Macy's, but I could be wrong. (I didn't know that Ross and Old Navy in SF were the largest; thanks for that fact.) Apart from the lack of parking, there's Midtown traffic to deal with. A cab, limo, or subway would be my bet, even for shoppers with loads of bags.

Posted by: SomaSoldier at November 5, 2009 3:27 PM

^What does New York have to do with anything? I was talking about how things already work here - for the second largest Macy's in the country and for the largest of those other stores.

Companies have figured out that parking isn't necessary for a market as large as that in SF (where Target and Walmart, to name two, have ZERO exposure). We're talking about dream demographics - they don't need parking to have an extremely successful store.

I'd be curious to hear of ONE Union Square area store that has folded because of lack of parking. Every closure that I know of has to do with problems of the overall chain.

Posted by: anon at November 5, 2009 3:41 PM

Particularly with the kind of stores that are going to be here (stores where people will fill up their carts and then some), no one wants to walk blocks to their car or to public transport, or to a bicycle (which would be stolen anyway)! How absurd.

Posted by: anon at November 5, 2009 4:02 PM

The glass wall renderings shown on Curbed (oops, ugh) are quite nice; great reflection of masonry buildings all around. I'm liking. It works. Parking? Who's shopping anymore in the old economy SUV schlep model --don't know. Dept stores in USquare are heavily funded by car-free tourists.

Posted by: Invented at November 5, 2009 4:17 PM

To the people who think on site parking is necessary, you need to recognize that people shop somewhat differently at downtown big box stores vs. suburban stores. People will tend to buy smaller amounts of things, but more frequently, and combine their trips with work, entertainment, or other shopping. If they do drive, they can easily park at the 5th and Mission Garage, which is virtually across the street. A target, or similar kind of big box retailer will sell fewer large things, or figure out how to have a delivery system.

We already know that Target has no issue with a lack of onsite parking if they are in negotiations for the Metreon. I happen to feel that CityPlace is a much better location for them, and even more importantly, it's a better location for City because it will help revitalize the block between 5th and 6th and extend the retail core without sacrificing really (potentially) great space in the Metreon to a somewhat inappropriate use. I'd love to see some incentives used to get them to go after this location.

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 5, 2009 4:22 PM

I agree with curmudgeon about this being a more appropriate place for Target than Metreon. A Target here would bring the foot traffic to the rest of the mall, and make more people walk to the 900 block of Market. I don't think a lot of parking is necessary, but 200 spaces is not a large garage (much smaller than at any suburban mall, or even than nearby garages), and won't change traffic patterns much, so I don't see the harm, if that's what the developer thinks will make the mall more marketable to potential tenants.

Posted by: Dan at November 5, 2009 4:43 PM

How did we the thread come to the conclusion that this would be filled with discount big-box type retailers a la Target?

Although I would welcome some of these stores in the City, I don't see how it would be politically viable given the chain store regulations, the fact that it's the C3 zone downtown (very restrictive parking regulations), Market Street adjacent, etc.

Posted by: holdup at November 5, 2009 5:04 PM

holdup - take a walk down Market from 5th to 4th some time. Then around Union Square. You'll notice that 90% of the businesses are chain stores, and 100% have no parking. We're not talking about somewhere hostile to chains or a lack of parking. This is one of the few places in the city that is almost entirely chains with little to no parking.

Posted by: anon at November 5, 2009 5:32 PM

And, holdup, the intention of this developer has always been to develop a "big box mall" for the site, something that is not clear from the description posted here.

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 5, 2009 5:46 PM

@holdup, the big-box/discounter thing was actually mentioned in the Curbed post... it explicitly said this but also included a few details that were giveaways. One was that they are designing the building to have large store plates (the kind that are relatively hard to find in downtown SF, though obviously a few do exist) and that there's only 4,800 square feet of common space. This latter point is a biggie--if there's only 5 condos worth of common space, then it's not really much of a "mall," more like a bunch of big stores with some access points to get to areas on different floors. By contract, the Westfield SF Centre Mall probably has a good 100,000-150,000sqft of common space in addition to around a million square feet of leased retail space.

Posted by: Jason at November 5, 2009 7:33 PM

I wouldn't compare anything in NYC with SF. Keep in mind that NYC has a solid subway setup that gets most new yorkers all around the city, conveniently. Bringing in NYC to make a point about how public transportation is just fine & dandy & convenient in SF like NYC is pretty off.

Posted by: nyc is a second home at November 6, 2009 5:04 AM

^Um, no one did that.

Posted by: anon at November 6, 2009 8:48 AM

I've always thought that a Target would be a great addition to the retail space at Masonic and Geary (which is going to be used as a Marshall's/Home Goods I believe). They have onsite parking and lots of space. Target has been willing to go into mutistory locations - there's one at Tanforan in San Bruno that's 2 stories.

I think the downtown Target will be aimed at a different market than the ones in Colma/Daly City. I would guess that it will be more geared to the "frugalistas" that they're trying to appeal to in their ads right now, and less toward the "one stop to buy diapers, tvs, power tools, and bikes" crowd.

Posted by: curly at November 6, 2009 9:49 AM

anon: I misread your original post as an argument for chain store parking, not the opposite. Sorry.

I think nyc-iash was referring to my comment. I've read lots and lots of comments and opinions on how SF and NYC are or are not comparable. While they each has its own character, I still believe there are similar *elements* (e.g. big box stores in a dense urban environment lacking parking but with nearby transit) which can be used for comparison. I use NYC as my favorite poster child for an urban environmet because SF and other cities could stand to study its approach in some ways (one of which is NOT its concrete canyons, but I digress). Still, I love both cities and cherish that they both exist, given the alternative.

Posted by: SomaSoldier at November 6, 2009 9:49 AM

5th/Mission is never even close to full at current prices. On average, you're probably looking at 500 spaces unused during the day and more than 1500 unused at night.

And completely full on weekends, when most people go shopping or to the movies.

Posted by: BobN at November 6, 2009 4:41 PM

^I've never once seen the place full, but even if it is, that's nothing an elimination of monthly passes or simple increase in parking rates wouldn't cure.

The SF Centre added more than half a million square feet of space without any additional parking, and the parking armageddon predicted by many still has not come to pass.

On top of that - Target is already looking at space in the Metreon with zero parking and doesn't seem worried about it.

Posted by: anon at November 6, 2009 4:54 PM

In NYC, it's easy to take the subway to a big box store, then flag down a cab in front of the store to bring your purchases home. This is possible for some in SF, but not nearly as easy.

Posted by: Dan at November 7, 2009 12:09 PM

I do this when I shop at the Costco on 9th and Harrison all the time Dan. There is even a cab spot right out front, since it is so common.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 7, 2009 12:28 PM

I live in Hayes Valley, own two cars, rarely use our transit system, I like parking spaces.

Posted by: Tall Guy at November 9, 2009 4:08 PM

^Good thing for you that there are loads of parking garages in the area already!

Posted by: anon at November 9, 2009 4:27 PM

IKEA

Please 2nd if you agree.

Posted by: Heeblet at November 10, 2009 11:40 AM

Ikea would do gangbuster business on housewares, but would definitely have issues on furniture pickup. Are there any downtown IKEA's in this country or elsewhere? I don't know how willing they are to mess with their model, and since they're well ensconced in Emeryville and E. Palo Alto, I don't see it happening. I think it would be really neat though to have an IKEA where you can pick up small things, and see/order large things for delivery. Obviously, folks like Crate and Barrel base their business around that.

Of course, I'm totally over the IKEA aesthetic, but they are a great retailer.

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 10, 2009 11:55 AM

^There are dozens of Ikeas around the world that have almost no parking and rely mostly on delivery of large items. I used to live down the street from one in the Tokyo area. They had some parking, but it was roughly the equivalent of $10 an hour, and most of the people had things delivered since cars are typically smaller anyway. I remember the daily parade of blue and yellow mini-trucks in front of my place.

Posted by: anon at November 10, 2009 1:34 PM

You'd be surprised how easy it is to transport big stuff home on a well functioning mass transit system. Too bad SF doesn't really have one.

Last month in Berlin I saw an unassembled bed frame, a stepladder, and a fully assembled cafe table carried onboard the S-Bahn (kinda like Caltrain/Muni hybrid). None of these guys looked as if they were struggling.

I've personally delivered a table saw via Caltrain + bike. It was a little awkward, but doable.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at November 10, 2009 1:34 PM

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