November 12, 2009

The Grand Plan And Aesthetics For Candlestick/Hunters Point

Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II Development Rendering: Northwest View

The full Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II Development Plan Draft Environmental Impact Report is now online in six volumes and thirty-eight parts. The overview:

The Project proposed by Lennar Urban includes a mixed-use community with a wide range of residential, retail, office, research and development, civic and community uses, and parks and recreational open space. A major component would be a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers National Football League (NFL) team.

Proposed San Francisco 49ers Stadium at Hunters Point

Additionally, new transportation and utility infrastructure would serve the Project including a bridge across Yosemite Slough.
Specifically, the Project proposes development of 10,500 residential units with an associated population of 24,465 residents; 885,000 gross square feet (gsf) of retail; 150,000 gsf of office; 2.5 million gsf of Research & Development (R&D) uses; a 220-room, 150,000 gsf hotel; 255,000 gsf of artist live/work space; 100,000 gsf of community services; 251.3 acres of new parks, sports fields, and waterfront recreation areas...

Proposed Hunters Point Waterfront Promenade

...as well as 84 acres of new and improved State parkland; a 69,000-seat 49ers stadium; and a 75,000 gsf performance arena. The permanent employee population associated with the Project would be 10,730.

CPHP%20Phase%20II%20Overview.gif

In addition, a 300-slip marina would be provided. Shoreline improvements would also be provided to stabilize the shoreline. The Project would include structured and on-street parking and various infrastructure improvements to support the development.

And of course, a bit more in terms of the big picture aesthetics and design.

Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II Development Rendering: Southwest View

Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II: Project Overview [SFGov]
Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II: Aesthetics [SFGov]
JustQuotes: The Redevelopment Of Hunters/Candlestick Point [SocketSite]

First Published: November 12, 2009 3:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

It's the people that make the difference, NOT the new condos, restaurants, yuppies, etc. occupying the area.

Posted by: Daniel at November 12, 2009 3:43 PM

I would not hold my breath on this being built.

First hit - the 49ers are all but set to leave so forget the stadium. Not that that is key to the project.

10,000 housing units? Come on. Who, pray tell, is going to purchase these units, if the SOMA can just get 600 sq ft sales prices - and dropping - what price will this not desirable area be able to command? And will it be financially viable to even build this?

Almost 3 million sq feet of new office space? Again, come on. The city will have millions of existing empty office space for at least the next decade. There is no market for more office space in SF!

BTW, how tall are the towers in the rendering supposed to be? A moot question as this will never get built, but this is close to the bay and I'm surprised anything over 6 or so stories is even allowed.

Posted by: Gil at November 12, 2009 3:58 PM

It seems too out of the way for a stadium. A stadium should be built downtown where the transportation infrastructure is already in place.

Posted by: mow at November 12, 2009 4:28 PM

I just doubt this whole thing is ever going to get built, stadium or not.

Posted by: Rillion at November 12, 2009 4:31 PM

To add to mow's point, it seems like it would have made more sense to have the T-3rd Muni line swing closer to Candlestick and then go west under US101 into Vistacion Valley (assuming the goal was to end up in VV). Maybe they didn't want to build a Muni line on that much fill?

Posted by: JimBobJones at November 12, 2009 4:38 PM

The stadium is used 7 days a year. I don't think it makes sense to put it downtown, or bring a muni line to it. Unless it was a special train with built in BBQ's and kegerators.

Posted by: sparky-b at November 12, 2009 4:42 PM

I'm with the doubters, and this is going to happen no time soon, obviously. But I am struck by how "vancouver" this looks. Would be satisfying to alot of the folks who decry (with some reason) the low slung "legoland" of Mission Bay as a missed opportunity.

As far as the stadium belonging downtown...no way. It's a football stadium, and therefore has games, what, 12 times a year? It's functionally an urban blight and doesn't help nearby land uses the way a ballpark does (and in my opinion, if Santa Clara wants it...go for it!)

Bridge across Yosemite Slough is no easy sell either.

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 12, 2009 4:43 PM

@ Curmudgeon

I don't understand why Vancouver and Legoland seem to be our only choices. Powers that be in City Planning talk a lot about "sense of place" but we've gotten very little of it in the past 15 years.

For examples of how to build people-friendly neighborhoods, look at London, Paris, Istanbul, or any great world city. Europe has dozens of them. Manhattan is another good example.

Outside of the northern and [eastern] parts of our city, it's hard to find here.

Posted by: SausalitoRes at November 12, 2009 6:28 PM

(RING)

Hi, I'd like to book a room at one of your hotels around SF.

Would you like a hotel in the city or at the airport?

Neither!

Posted by: tipster at November 12, 2009 7:03 PM

Powers that be in City Planning talk a lot about "sense of place" but we've gotten very little of it in the past 15 years.

Nonsense! When I'm down in Mission Bay, I have the distinct sensation of being in Kansas City suburban office park. "No sense of place" indeed!

Posted by: BobN at November 12, 2009 7:30 PM

The last 2 photos "Existing" and "Proposed" look like Parcel E-2 http://www.communitywindowontheshipyard.org/cleanupguide/map_parcels.htm#E which has the distinction of having spontaneously caught fire in 2000. If they can actually clean up HPS then hats off! Would be amazing. I say this as someone who uses Candlestick SP and the surrounding area frequently. This area had (has?) so much potential but has been so abused and neglected.

Hopefully, in the effort to somehow fix things up opportunities aren't missed to establish real communities and re-establish water's edge ecosystems (look up Heron's Head Park). This will likely be the only chance to shape it this century. Whatever is laid down over the next decade or two will be in place for a long time. Hoping a soulless McSuburb isn't the plan.

Posted by: Matthew D. at November 12, 2009 10:09 PM

SausalitoRes: The most "people-friendly" neighborhoods of London and Paris are not ones built in the modern era, but rather those that have evolved over generations-- as have the best neighborhoods in SF. And "people-friendly" neighborhoods are not just in the north and east of SF-- but rather in the many parts of the city first built before the automobile became the dominant form of transportation.
London and Paris have also had their troubles building people-friendly modern extensions of the city, especially some areas housing poor and immigrant groups in large complexes.

Posted by: Dan at November 12, 2009 10:30 PM

Only way this development is viable is if they have ferry service every 20 minutes to the Ferry Bldg on Embarcadero. Otherwise it's a bleak, windswept suburb that will turn into low income housing.

Posted by: Delancey at November 13, 2009 2:09 AM

In concept, this is a good idea for the city. However, the execution will be a challenge. But given time, it could all work out really well. Something needs to incorporate Hunter's Point into San Francisco, and residential units + services are key.

Posted by: Insidesfre at November 13, 2009 5:10 AM

Dan,

Point taken about how many of the nicest neighborhoods around the world evolved organically over many years. That said, London was almost entirely rebuilt after WWII and they have many areas of nice low-rise construction with sidewalk retail that engages the passers-by.

Also, your point suggests that city planners shouldn't be in such a hurry to create instant neighborhoods when it's unclear that demand exists for tens of thousands of new units in the first place. Maybe this rush to develop the south area quickly was more a reflection of money available for building and buying condos than doing what's best for San Francisco.

I agree with you about the effect of the automobile on how development has occurred. The trend in development, even in the city, seems to be living spaces that are cut-off from the neighborhood and the larger community. Saying you have a "Transit First" development policy may be necessary but not sufficient to create living spaces that bring people together.

If housing isn't interspersed with attractive retail and other places for residents to congregate, people will still be compelled to jump in their single-occupant vehicles and drive to the mall in the suburbs.

Posted by: SausalitoRes at November 13, 2009 7:22 AM

Love the height of the proposed buildings, not sure if there will b ferry service to East Bay; South Bay -- but hope water is a transit option as part of the increasing ferry system.

Sense of place? Requires complexity and fine-tuned streetscapes resulting from mixing it up. None here probably.

These overly prescribed developments are not complex enough to counter ennui. There needs to be an element of surprise, intrigue and everyday fabulousness in the way it all comes together-- otherwise well, hello Foster City and San Ramon. Wait visit the corporate blandness of the shelter on landfill (MB) and count the minutes until deep boredom sets in.

This dev could be anywhere water-side in the world which begs the ? how SF can create new communities which are genuinely linked to place, rich in textures & lifestyles, and engage in the way good neighborhoods do.

Why not?

Posted by: Invented at November 13, 2009 7:33 AM

This will get built, the only question is how far in the future the housing will get done. My guess is that it will get started during the next uptick of the housing cycle, which is probably 5-10 years away. The stadium will get built much more quickly than that, if the 49ers are will to make a commitment to stay.

There are some pretty good example of recent construction that has a good walkable feel, see places like Celebration Florida. It is probably too expensive to use here though. Even if we end up with low income (or more likely moderate income) housing, that is fine too, it is not like San Francisco has an abundance of inexpensive housing.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 13, 2009 8:17 AM

"Also, your point suggests that city planners shouldn't be in such a hurry to create instant neighborhoods when it's unclear that demand exists for tens of thousands of new units in the first place. Maybe this rush to develop the south area quickly was more a reflection of money available for building and buying condos than doing what's best for San Francisco."

SausalitoRes has hit on it - is there any indication there is demand for another 10,000 units?

This in addition to what is proposed for TI, SOMA, mid-Market, ParkMerced.

Clearly, IMO, not. I think it will be a decade before this settles out and SF can determine realistically what housing demand there is and plan accordingly. Meaning starting over on plans for Hunters Point, TI, much of SOMA.

This is another grand scheme that was a child of the bubble. As were the totally overdone plans for SOMA.

The lucky thing here is that this project was not started during the bubble. Think all the empty condos in The Millenium, ORH, Infinity - throughout SOMA.

It was a totally unrealistic vision created at a time when city officials were wearing those rose colored glasses that said the bubble would last forever and San Francisco real estate would just get morre pricey. Giving city officilas the opportunity to push such projects at a high cost to developers in terms of extorting from developers all kinds of fees and conditions.

Those days are over for a long time - 10 - 20 years. Which is why this will never be built as originally conceived.

Posted by: Gil at November 13, 2009 9:00 AM

"Would be satisfying to alot of the folks who decry (with some reason) the low slung "legoland" of Mission Bay as a missed opportunity."

I don't decry Mission Bay but I do see it as a missed opportunity to attempt a Vancouver like middle class mid rise neighborhood in San Francisco.

With a local elementary school and some parks and like minded people I certainly would have been interested in giving this lifestyle a try

This is the only way for a modern city to really build up density

Posted by: zig at November 13, 2009 9:06 AM

"is there any indication there is demand for another 10,000 units?"

At what price and what type? Wife and I am starting to look and we can't be the only ones

San Francisco is still the #1 or #2 most expensive place in the US for housing no? You make it sound like Merced

Posted by: Zig at November 13, 2009 9:12 AM

There is a huge amount of backed up demand for housing in the City. Check out studies done by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute for solid support of that. The biggest question has to do with the economics of development since affordable units are most in demand. Core urban areas are where jobs get created, so over time some variation of this scheme is almost inevitable.

Improved transportation is probably going to be necessary, but something like Third Street light rail or an extension to it would be most realistic. Ferries are not effective transportation for working class people. That is why they are not a significant component of Bay Area commuter transit except in terms of expense.

Arguing against this project is essentially saying that the development should make use of open space green ways at the fringes of the Bay Area or perhaps some farmland in the Central Valley.

Posted by: Mole Man at November 13, 2009 9:18 AM

"Ferries are not effective transportation for working class people. That is why they are not a significant component of Bay Area commuter transit except in terms of expense."

This is partly because of landuse. They certainly could be more important like they are in Seattle and Hing Kong (and I assume Sydney)

Lots of people living near the port means more riders. this stuff is pretty simple but is often so lost on the Bay Area

Posted by: Zig at November 13, 2009 9:35 AM

There will always be a demand for housing in SF. Just not at $800+ / sqft.

Posted by: bornnraised at November 13, 2009 9:37 AM

AWEFUL!!!!!!!!

Posted by: DZInerSF at November 13, 2009 9:44 AM

Gil always forgets that the REASON that there is a lack of "demand" right now for for-sale housing is that it's still priced too high. One of the primary reasons that it's priced too high? The developers or owners of the current crop of for-sale housing know that housing will likely remain hard and expensive to build here. If you find a way to allow more housing to be built, land prices and existing prices of housing come down or at least stagnate, in expectation of the coming supply. Prices don't need to come down much now, because there's no concern that much new will be built soon, because ALLOWABLE development is still so small.

Posted by: anon at November 13, 2009 9:51 AM

There will always be an enormous demand for housing in the city at the low end of pricing from people who would rather not have to live way the hell out in the East Bay for affordability's sake.

What I wonder is what is the minimum pricing (sqft-wise) that a developer can offer for plain vanilla multifamily housing, assuming a normal profit?

I'd have to guess that with an abundance of out-of-work construction crews and cheaper raw materials, building lower-end, market rate multifamily has to be more feasible now.

Posted by: Jordan at November 13, 2009 10:02 AM

At this point, and probably for the next decade, this project is mostly a fantasy. Most of the exsiting projects at Candlestick Cove are facing serious challenges, and the Hunter's Point area of development has even more hurdles that relate in large part to accessibility. Couple these circumstances with the overhang of housing and office sites in the SOMA and Rincon area make this large project even more speculative. If for some reason the 49ers decide to stay, that will provide some impetus for further limited development, but still not enough to propel a project of this magnitude any time soon.

Posted by: sardonic at November 13, 2009 10:42 AM

"There will always be an enormous demand for housing in the city at the low end of pricing from people who would rather not have to live way the hell out in the East Bay for affordability's sake."

I disagree Jordan. Housing demand is largely fueled by jobs. The type of middle class person you are talking about increasingly commutes out of SF to the East Bay and Peninsula to work.

The AAA folks moving to WC, Bank of The West folks, AT&T folks went through this a decade ago. Thousands transferred out of SF. For a while many hung on - living in the City and commuting to "the ranch" but, after 5 years many had relocated to the East Bay.

In my immediate area about a third of the neighbors have had their jobs relocated to the East Bay or Peninsula in the past 5 years. They are commuting but the several with young kids appraching school age are making plans to leave the city and move closer to where they work.

Most of the remainoing work for the City, the Feds or the school system.

There is no significant middle class job growth projected for SF - aside from government jobs and medical support jobs.

The job base is going to stay about where it is now - if the city is lucky and PG&E and the few large remaining employers don't pull out.

These schemes were hatched in a bubble and it has burst and it ain't coming back - certainly not in SF anyway. The joib mix is simply not here.

Posted by: Gil at November 13, 2009 10:45 AM

We can't make a blanket statement like "there is high demand" or "there is low demand." There is a demand curve at any given time and for a given class of properties, and that demand curve will shift over time depending on the economy, interest rates, lending criteria, and a whole host of other factors. This is the same in SF as for anywhere else.

As a simple illustration, if condos were available for $1 in SF, there would be near infinite demand for them. At $1 billion, there is zero demand.

There is also a price curve representing the price at which sellers are willing to sell. This also shifts over time.

Where the curves meet, you have the market price. In a functioning, liquid market, this point is pretty readily reached. We seem to be fairly liquid right now at the lower end, but not at the higher end which is why there are so few sales; sellers are not willing or cannot afford to sell at the prices that buyers are willing to pay.

Gil appears to be arguing that the demand curve has shifted farther to the left than Jordan believes. That's the relevant debate.

Posted by: anon at November 13, 2009 11:03 AM

Gil wrote: "There is no significant middle class job growth projected for SF - aside from government jobs and medical support jobs."

Is there a link to back that up? In fact, until the recent economic downturn, job growth in SF was competitive with job growth in the suburbs:
http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/B264_JobGrowth.pdf

San Francisco's economy was less dependent on housing construction than much of the state, and construction will continue over the next several years on 3 hospitals, each costing from just under $1 billion to almost $2 billion. There is every reason to believe that SF's diverse economy will be as vital, if not more so, compared to surrounding areas.
And SF and its suburbs are interlinked-- many of my friends who work in biotech in SSF live in SF, for example. If prices became within reach, many friends of mine who live in the East Bay and commute to the city would consider moving to SF-- they are getting tired of bridge delays that aren't ending anytime soon.
Candlestick/Hunter's Point is a particularly challenging place for the city to grow-- but that does not mean that the city as a whole is withering away.

Posted by: Dan at November 13, 2009 12:10 PM

There is no significant middle class job growth projected for SF - aside from government jobs and medical support jobs.

There is no significant middle class job growth predicted on the peninsula, in the inner east Bay, in the South Bay, or in the North Bay either, if the jobs are like those that you mention (very large employers with thousands or at least hundreds of jobs).

You bring up some anecdotal stuff (a third of your neighbors have had their job moved out of the city), well I'm sure everyone here has some anecdotes - for me, half of my friends either work for themselves (from home), for consulting firms (which allows them to do a large percentage of work from home), or for small startups in the city. They all choose to live in SF because urban environments don't exist many places in the western US (or within the Bay Area), and they want to stay in the region because of access to professional contacts with tech companies (of which most major and important ones are in the Bay Area).

Posted by: anon at November 13, 2009 12:12 PM

Gil - job growth is important, but SF has a huge base of jobs already, and those positions haven't completely evaporated. Want proof? The daytime population of SF jumps by around 20% because we have more jobs than workers who live in the city. BART, the ferries and the freeways funnel people into the city from outlying suburbs.

Some of these people would probably prefer to cut their commute time, but are priced out by expensive SF real estate. Additionally, San Francisco is an exciting place to live. This neighborhood isn't Noe Valley or Pac Heights, but it is only a few miles away from downtown SF. Build non-luxury housing here that are 'reasonably affordable', and this part of town will fill up with people who rent or own further away from where they work.

You are right Gil, employment fuels the demand for housing. However, SF already has the jobs.

http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/21/real_estate/buying_selling/daytime_population_cities/

Posted by: Jordan at November 13, 2009 12:53 PM

Getting back to the so-called urban planning, what I don't understand is why every "solution", whether it be for Mission Bay, Treasure Island or here, tends to be so TIRED, sterile, and so 1970! Here we have some of the most interesting dynamic neighborhoods with density only a couple of miles to the north that did not require Corbusian towers sitting in Radiant City isolation, but do designers care to take THAT into account?

Planning Re-development designs such as this have been shown to be failures throughout the world, and at least in Europe they are building density and infill housing that is more in context with the location.

One last point, why does this plan and Mission Bay ignore the waterfront? Dare I bring up Chicago which basically chose to celebrate its waterfront location beyond the typical San Francisco "new town" design solutions of grass and bike paths?

Posted by: Morgan at November 13, 2009 3:01 PM

"One last point, why does this plan and Mission Bay ignore the waterfront? Dare I bring up Chicago which basically chose to celebrate its waterfront location beyond the typical San Francisco "new town" design solutions of grass and bike paths?"

Excellent observation.

Unlike Portland and San Antonio which celebrate their waterfronts - to name just two cities that got it right.

Posted by: Gil at November 13, 2009 3:12 PM

The planning department is working on those things right now. They reviewed it at the Planning Commission last night. With photos of Chicago, Vancouver and Stockholm as part of the presentation.

Posted by: sparky-b at November 13, 2009 3:19 PM

Morgan and Gil - there is a very concrete reason that SF's planning doesn't embrace its waterfront like Portland, San Antonio, other river cities, or Chicago and other lakefront cities (where port facilities were fewer and longer ago, and no military use ever was there in large portions) - it was and is all owned by a STATE entity whose primary purpose has been NOT tourism or recreational use, but industrial port use.

If we can get the state to change some laws and give FULL control of the port to SF (and allow much of the waterfront to be used for other uses - and give up on the land being used for port activities that don't make sense here anymore), then we could truly embrace our waterfront.

You'll find similar situations (cities mostly ignoring their waterfront in large part due to outdated state or federal laws OR current/past military use) scattered across both coasts, from Seattle to New York to Boston.

Posted by: anon at November 13, 2009 3:24 PM

"Gil - job growth is important, but SF has a huge base of jobs already, and those positions haven't completely evaporated. Want proof? The daytime population of SF jumps by around 20% because we have more jobs than workers who live in the city. BART, the ferries and the freeways funnel people into the city from outlying suburbs."

The misleading thing about that stat is that it does not adjust for resident SFers who leave the city every day to get to their jobs. It also groups in shoppers and people who come in for specialized medical treatment at places like UCSF.

Either way the overall job base is stagnant and will not significantly grow from this point. No big plate floor takers are coming to SF - despite cheap prime office space that landlords are desperate to rent.

So, a huge amount of new (added) housing stock is not needed. As opposed to replacement stock which will be needed increasingly as so many units are 75 yrs old or older now.

Posted by: Gil at November 13, 2009 4:03 PM

Um, Gil, check the link again. It is a measure of NET-migration into SF, so it does take into account those who leave.

Posted by: anon at November 13, 2009 4:14 PM

This data map shows that far more people commute into San Francisco for work from each surrounding county than vice versa.

http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/commute-maps/sanfrcommute.pdf

Obviously, there is a large pool of potential customers for housing in San Francisco from the many people who commute into the city to work from surrounding suburbs.

Posted by: Dan at November 13, 2009 5:02 PM

anon is right. I gave Gil the stats from SPUR last week that say the same thing, but it looks like he forgot already.

300,000 people come into downtown Monday-Friday to work, if even 10% would prefer to lessen their commute, that is a huge pent up demand for housing.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 13, 2009 5:05 PM

Gil gave up on SF and you can't tell him that wasn't the thing to do. Why he likes posting on a BBS about SF r.e. is not known.

Posted by: anonn at November 13, 2009 5:57 PM

You guys are forgetting all of the second homes bought by people with neg-am loans for lower monthly payments than the 2004-2008 appreciation that are now in the process of being sold off to people who will live in them.

Thus, even if no new housing is built for years, more and more housing will come available as these second homeowners give up and throw in the towel and sell them at a loss or turn them back in to the bank.

Many of them are being rented for now in the hopes that things will "come back" but when the loans reset and people have to actually pay for the money they borrowed, that will be the end of the line for a lot of people who bought second homes in the city because they were so inexpensive.

The second tower of one rincon does not need to be built for a nearly equivalent number of homes to come up for sale at one rincon alone!

Think of it as if it is a second great building boom, without the stampede of buyers.

Posted by: tipster at November 13, 2009 7:31 PM

Converting rental stock to the condo market should not have a appreciable effect on the amount of housing supply overall. But it should drive down prices, or at least suppress them below normal trend gains for a while.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 13, 2009 8:22 PM

Marincello phase II?

Posted by: deano at November 13, 2009 11:00 PM

"Aesthetcs"? what aesthetics?

Why oh why does the design have to be so shitty? -- the stadium, the 70's-looking highrises, the banal planning, are just bottom of-the-barrel formula stuff. Why do Europe and Asia get countless forward-looking designs of this scale on sites this important, and SF gets such vision-less crap? When will the design mediocrity end here???

Posted by: citicritter at November 15, 2009 3:01 AM

"Why oh why does the design have to be so shitty? -- the stadium, the 70's-looking highrises, the banal planning, are just bottom of-the-barrel formula stuff. Why do Europe and Asia get countless forward-looking designs of this scale on sites this important, and SF gets such vision-less crap? When will the design mediocrity end here???"

Never - as in when will design mediocrity end. I think it must be something in the water here.

It goes way back - look at the Sunset or outer Mission. Built a long, long time ago and exhibiting the same mediocrity.

Look at Mission Bay - as so many say, a missed opportunity.

I think at times that maybe San Franciscans don't get around and don't realize how unattractive SF neighborhoods are and how bad so many of these new developments are.

It's ironic that SF has some of the toughest design restrictions/controls - cause if producing visually attractive structures was one of the goals the result is a failure.

Where I see this is in the "open space" plazas at the base of many high rises. Look at 4 Seasons. Million dollar luxury condos and you walk out the door to see a cemented in wind swept plaza. No fountain even. Look at the Millenium - ouch!

Or Fox Plaza, or BofA. Several of the newer towers around 2nd & Mission have cemented in plazas with perfuntory greenery. Sterile and uninviting spots if ever. Up the street a bit, the plaza in front of the Mexican Museum on Mission is a disgrace IMO.

It's apparently the nature of the beast in SF.

Posted by: Gil at November 15, 2009 12:12 PM

Yeah Pac Heights, Presidio Heights, Telegraph Hill, The Marina, Forest Hill, St. Francis Wood, Noe Valley, Seacliff, Ashbury Heights and Alamo Square are such ugly places. San Francisco is known worldwide for being such an ugly place.

LOL.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 15, 2009 12:34 PM

^Nothing more beautiful than the southside of Chicago, the Bronx, large parts of Boston, the commieblocks of Toronto, and the endless suburbia that represents 99% of the building that has been done in American cities of the past 50 years. It must be something in the water here, for Mission Bay to look so much worse than the glorious neighborhoods that Phoenix and Houston have built recently...

LOL

Posted by: anon at November 15, 2009 2:23 PM

Really NoeValleyJim and "anon", how does that contribute? Do you think this plan is good design? Do you think it would be celebrated by other cities around the world? How does it take into account the bay, the hills, the views? How does it include some of the better design in places mentioned such as Pacific Heights, Forest Hill, the Marina, or other northern neighborhoods? (notice NVJ that anon did not include your neighborhood) Instead it does resemble some of those places "anon" mentioned including the southside of Chicago and Bronx.

You know things are bad in San Francisco when you have to compare your city to Chicago slums or Phoenix, instead of Paris or Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive with its parks and magnificent residential towers. Why not set your standards higher? The comments against this design are not against San Francisco, they are against bad architecture and planning.

If Chicago, Stockholm and Hamburg are so horrible, why were they recently pointed out at recent SF planning review hearings as what San Francisco should be trying to achieve in the future?

Posted by: WeCanDoBetter at November 15, 2009 2:41 PM

"Pac Heights, Presidio Heights, Telegraph Hill, The Marina, Forest Hill, St. Francis Wood, Noe Valley, Seacliff, Ashbury Heights and Alamo Square"

And didn't all these places grow up before there was any "planning". Maybe planning is the problem. When everyone gets a say in whether something goes forward or not you get design by committee. A guarantee of bland, least-common-denominator design.

When not make general guidelines for what should be in an area and then let everyone do what they want within those guidelines?

Posted by: diemos at November 15, 2009 3:10 PM

"Yeah Pac Heights, Presidio Heights, Telegraph Hill, The Marina, Forest Hill, St. Francis Wood, Noe Valley, Seacliff, Ashbury Heights and Alamo Square are such ugly places. San Francisco is known worldwide for being such an ugly place."

Interesting so many of your examples are rare areas in SF where there are detached homes, some actual greeenry and character to many of the buildings. A slip maybe, but you are "blessing" as good examples a type of neighborhood which most San Franciscans don't live in or could ever afford to live in.

The typical SF neighborhood is the Sunset, Mission, Ingleside, Hunters Point and Sunnyside. These neighborhoods are ugly and depressing.

Some of the hoods you included like Noe Valley are mostly physically ugly in terms of actual housing stock. They may have the over-priced restaurant Sunnyside does not but on a foggy day Noe Valley is pretty stark.

BTW, I'd disagree about Noe Valley and Ashbury Heights. These are Much of Forest Hill and Marian

Posted by: Gil at November 15, 2009 3:15 PM

Sorry, WeCanBetter, I don't waste hours doing research to make well documented posts on SocketSite anymore. Far too many have been deleted by the editor because they don't follow his editorial agenda. I notice most of the other serious posters are doing the same thing.

There are blogs good for serious discussion about topics and other blogs where snarky throw away comments rule the day. This unfortunately has become one of the latter.

Well designed neighborhoods are expensive to build Gil and keep their character over time. Pac Heights has plenty of high rises and I am sure the density is much higher than Sunnyside. Telegraph Hill and The Marina are mostly mutli-unit buildings. I think all the neighborhoods I mentioned are very beautiful, if you can't afford to live in a nice neighborhood, that doesn't mean that San Francisco is ugly, just that you can't afford to live there. Hunter's Point is hardly a "typical" San Francisco neighborhood.

It is actually possible to rent in any of the neighborhoods I listed on a median San Francisco income. Two Muni bus drivers can easily afford to rent an apartment even in Pac Heights so your claim that these neighborhoods are out of reach of most San Franciscans is simply not true.

[Editor’s Note: Ironically, out of 1054 comments, the only two of NoeValleyJim’s that have been removed were the rather snarky and throw away "When those four lines meet, we are at the bottom..." and "We will have reached the bottom when all four of these lines meet..." And yes, those are the comments in their entirety.

We’re running at rate of roughly 3% of comments having ever been removed, the vast majority for being nothing other than personal attacks. And we’ve never removed a single comment for failing to agree with some "editorial agenda."]

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 15, 2009 3:53 PM

instead of Paris or Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive with its parks and magnificent residential towers.

Let's compare apples to apples here, please. Paris is a national capital and jewel of one of the largest economies in the world. SF is but one of many.

Michigan Avenue and LSD? Nice, sure. So are plenty of places here. (I've never really found what's so nice about a lakefront freeway, but LSD is nicely maintained at least)

Towers? Bleh. Give me more pedestrian-level goodness like all of our prime neighborhoods. People come to SF not to see highrises, but to see one of the only places in the US with European-style 4-6 story density. More of that please.

The point is that everyone here complains about mediocrity in SF, when American planning of the last century has celebrated, encouraged, and mandated mediocrity (or worse). SF shouldn't be compared to European cities, because it's an American city. How is it doing compared to most American cities? Atlanta? Phoenix? Houston? Detroit? Chicago? New York? Boston? Miami?

Most of those places have even worse design (if any at all) and more blahness.

Posted by: anon at November 15, 2009 4:04 PM

Okay, SF critics, I will bite. Give me an example of some recent construction in the United States that you think that San Francisco could learn from. Positive comments are more likely to get what you want than negativity. I might even personally go to planning commission meetings to press your case, if you can give me one worth trying to push. I am just a schmoe, but the more people who show up demanding better planning from our leaders, the better.

If you can't think of any examples domestically (and I sure can't) then how about internationally? The only recent construction anywhere worldwide that I am really personally impressed with is Shanghai, but that kind of stuff is not likely to happen here for reasons that hopefully obvious.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 15, 2009 4:10 PM

Okay Editor, you are right, if those are the only two ever deleted, I certainly have no high horse to stand on :-)

I often lose track of posts when they are moved from one thread to another but digging around for the ones I thought you deleted, I can find them elsewhere on the site.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 15, 2009 4:53 PM

" Give me an example of some recent construction in the United States that you think that San Francisco could learn from"

Watch some of the presentation given during item 17 of the SF Planning Commission meeting form 11/12/09 where city planners show many pictures of what can be learned from Chicago, and other cities. At least local planners here do not feel the need to be defensive when looking at our own urban shortcomings, and are happy to point out when other cities do things better. Why is it so hard for San Francisco to admit it is not perfect? Why do boring design solutions to urban renewal projects have be turned into a discussion by SOME into a touristic chamber of commerce San Francisco advertisement? First come the comparisons to urban slums, now I am waiting for the weather comparisons. How can you have a planning discussion when idiotic comments about "it snows there" or if you bring up a project another city has done well the response is to find a part of that city that is not so attractive? Perhaps it is time for some to let their parents use the computer for a while?

But to give you one example of an area that was a former wastland of railyards and parking lots, I present Millennium Park in Chicago....

http://www.millenniumpark.org/

Posted by: sigh at November 16, 2009 3:36 AM

OOH! We get our own Cabrini-Green, West.

Posted by: paul page at November 16, 2009 6:29 AM

"Why is it so hard for San Francisco to admit it is not perfect?"

Because people have a tendency to invest their ego and identity in their address and thus hear any negative comment as a personal attack.

Posted by: diemos at November 16, 2009 7:04 AM

I don't think SF is perfect, but on this site you'd think that SF never does anything right and that numerous other cities in the US have figured out better ways. That's simply not true.

Chicago has some great examples like the building of Millennium - does anyone think that most cities could build something like that without a leader with near-absolute power like Daley? SF was able to tear down several freeways and reconnect to its waterfront - something leaders from dozens of cities have come to look at (especially Seattle and Providence). It's absolutely amazing that we were able to pull that off with our completely dysfunctional California political system.

Posted by: anon at November 16, 2009 8:27 AM

Aren't these all just basic block shapes of undesigned building for the sake of a presentation? I don't think we need to scrutinize the buildings at this point. The planners may send one building back for a green wall, chop some stories off some others, and demand a starchitect contest on the centerpiece before it is all said and done. That is if nobody finds any California red legged frogs.

Posted by: sparky-b at November 16, 2009 9:00 AM

Millennium Park is a lovely downtown park, but it's 25 acres, for heaven's sake. This is 250 acres of parkland, plus nearly 4 million feet of development. For something of this size in this location, you would need to compare projects like the Sydney Olympic Park, the London Docklands, the London Olympic Park (a total clusterf**k disaster in the making) and the Barcelona Olympic shoreline developments. Of those, only Barcelona built anything you would possibly want here,(http://www.bcn.es/turisme/english/turisme/llocs/02.htm) and what they built is very good mixed use. SF should take a look.

I agree with Sparky-B that there doesn't seem to be any architecting done in these renderings - more like, we will want buildings of this size in these approximate locations, so we've parked them there, and we'll figure out exactly what they'll look like later. Step 1 is certainly to gain approval for the land uses and size of development, isn't it?

Posted by: Scooter at November 16, 2009 10:41 AM

Why is it so hard for San Francisco to admit it is not perfect?

I am pretty sure that is called a Straw Man argument. No one on this thread, or any other Socketsite thread for that matter, has ever claimed that San Francisco is perfect.

In fact, the whole thing started because one poster claimed that San Francisco was universally unattractive and others disagreed.

Why is it so hard for some posters to admit that San Francisco is quite beautiful? It is internationally famed for its beauty, you know.

This plan is hard to analyze in its current state, there aren't really enough details. It could end up great or it could end up blah, but given the budget, more likely to be blah. It doesn't seem to turn its back on the water, like some claim.

Millennium Park looks awesome but it is not a mixed use development, it is a park. Is it your serious suggestion that we should turn this entire area into one big park?

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 16, 2009 10:21 PM

The point I've been making (for years) is contemporary architectural design (not urban character, not neighborhoods, not geography, not natural beauty) is typically second-rate or worse here -- as are many of the contemporary urban spaces. Great civic and commercial architectural opportunities have been squandered here time and time again: the Main Library, Asian Museum, SFMOCA, Zeum, W Hotel, Intercontinental, countless downtown towers, and many other 'important' buildings of the past couple decades simply suck design-wise, while others are mediocre at best.

Now look at similar examples of such buildings and contemporary urban design in Copenhagen, Oslo, Barcelona, Seattle (library), Berlin, Paris, New York, Chicago, Stockholm, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Sendai, Valencia, Munich, Madrid, Seville, Porto, Bregenz, Graz, Amsterdam, Seoul, Beijing, Melbourne... even friggin Phoenix (whose main library blows ours away!) -- there is no comparison in design quality of recent architectural landmarks, besides the DeYoung, Academy of Science, Fed Bldg... I'm not just talking public and commercial buildings either, but also multi-family housing design (excepting some Saitowitz stuff).

Posted by: citicritter at November 16, 2009 11:49 PM

I always laugh at the following recurring illogical comments. "Chicago, except for its (vast, awful) southside is exemplary." --- > "San Francisco, except for the following exceptions, is ugly." --- > "San Francisco is ugly compared to the best city of [insert country here]." --- > "San Francisco doesn't compare to Chicago."

Posted by: anonn at November 17, 2009 10:13 AM

DeYoung, Academy of Science, Fed Bldg...

So you allow for three exceptions, even though some of the cities you list only did one noteworthy build?

Posted by: anonn at November 17, 2009 10:21 AM

The cities I list all did more than one noteworthy building, the smaller ones did two or three. I could add many more cities by the way...Dublin, Wolfsburg, Utrecht, even Des Moines, whose library by Chipperfield is miles better than not only our library, but most of our buildings...

Posted by: citicritter at November 17, 2009 10:31 AM

Anonn-Fluj, you miss the point. Citicritter is talking about the QUALITY of contemporary DESIGN here in San Francisco, not whether Pacific Heights is prettier than Detroit or whatever city you choose. You have to compare this Candlestick plan to other urban planning designs in other cities to understand the difference in design quality and imagination. This plan is another boring version of the Treasure Island "design", and/or Mission Bay. Some of the images shown of other waterfront developments in other "world class" cities at the recent Planning Commission hearing help to explain how far behind we are in creating good contemporary design in San Francisco.

Posted by: sigh at November 17, 2009 10:35 AM

Were you expecting that we tear down our library and build new?

SFMOMA, while you may not like it, was designed by a well known starchitect and is pretty renowned in most circles. Ditto the Jewish Contemporary Museum across the street.

Posted by: anon at November 17, 2009 10:39 AM

Re: Quality of design, the De Young and the Academy of Sciences are recent and taken together, equal to or better than anything anyone had mentioned that I've seen. That's two. The government building is three. Now compare that, three, and SF to the size and importance of those other cities relative to the country.

Re: The actual Candlestick plan. Relax with all of the "Why is it that" stuff. It getting built is a pipe dream and the design is not even complete.

Posted by: anonn at November 17, 2009 10:49 AM

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