The proposed development of 801 Brannan and One Henry Adams (click renderings to enlarge) has been in the works for over ten years, at one point hoping to be delivered in 2008 (and then 2010). The development would raze four buildings across two sites.
801 Brannan/One Henry Adams Existing
Rising on the sites would be five six-story/sixty-eight-foot buildings with up to 819 residential units over ground floor retail and 798 parking spaces. In terms of unit mix: 455 one-bedrooms, 315 two-bedrooms, 20 three-bedrooms, and 29 lofts as proposed.
And in terms of open space, 75,000 square feet of internal courtyards, passageways between buildings, and in a landscaped strip along the southern edge of 801 Brannan.

In light of the Eastern Neighborhoods Interim Permit Review Procedures, plans for the proposed development are being heard by San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission today. And yes, all renderings are simply massings so far.
San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission Agenda: June 16, 2010 [sf-planning.org]
801 Brannan Street / 1 Henry Adams Street HPC Review [sf-planning.org]
Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, It’s Not Just For Policy Wonks Anymore [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Invented

    Only 20 three-bedrooms out of 819 units? So much for a family-friendly city.
    San Francisco is not creating housing for the generations, rather corporate transitional housing which destabilizes the fabric of the city.
    No roots in these sandy soils, it seems and we continue to be a feeder pipeline for the welcoming ‘burbs.
    PS Cannot make out the streets in above pics– can these be labeled?
    [Editor’s Note: Site plans with labeled streets (click to enlarge) have been added above.]

  2. Posted by A.T.

    Invented, you are exactly right. My guess is this was by design and not by accident. The City does not want kids, who pay no taxes but have all their pesky expenses (schools, playgrounds, pools, libraries, summer jobs programs), and instead it wants to increase the retail and tax receipts of its childless residents.
    This is why the children in this city largely fall into two categories, the poor and lower-middle class kids in the public schools, and the wealthy kids in the private schools. That is not an absolute split, of course, but the divisions are pretty stark.

  3. Posted by zig

    A.T. whether or not it is purposeful the signal is loud and clear.
    Poor families seem ok because we demand family sized BMR units. Middle class people in general by their nature are often moderates and I think this is the issue. Not the BOS constituents
    I’ll be out once Zig Jr is born

  4. Posted by Mole Man

    There is a long term ongoing transition to smaller households which is especially prominent in cities.
    People make room for their families including kids wherever gentrification works its magic. That is why places like the Castro and South of Market are increasingly full of stroller people.
    The schools in San Francisco have been a mess since the early days of suburban flight and stay a mess because fixing schools is a difficult problem in any setting.
    The push effect that I see goes the other way. For example, once Stanford students graduate they almost always immediately abandon the suburbs and make a dive for the fog and social scenes of the City. The attitude in the suburbs is that only conformity oriented families should be welcome, so anyone who doesn’t blend has motivation to escape somewhere. The fraction of students that live off campus is smaller now than ever before. Maybe if the suburbs were less boring and hostile then the City would not accumulate so many single people.
    Many factors are involved with these ongoing demographic shifts, but lack of recognition of a particular class of paying customer is not among them.

  5. Posted by A.T.

    The phenomenon you note is definitely part of it, Mole Man, but the demand for 3BR places seems to be stronger than for 1- and 2BR places. And you see a lot more kids in the poor parts of town than in the gentrified areas. Its more profitable for the builders to construct more, smaller places, and the City is happy with it for the reasons I noted. Cost of housing plus lousy schools combine to drive families out of SF. you are spot on that the schools issue has no easy answer, but more suitable housing could help on the other front. There is no reason that only 20 out of 819 units should be 3BR.

  6. Posted by Invented

    “There is a long term ongoing transition to smaller households which is especially prominent in cities.
    People make room for their families including kids wherever gentrification works its magic. That is why places like the Castro and South of Market are increasingly full of stroller people.”
    A new urbanist, pocket size home works with stroller people perhaps. Two teens in a 2bd SF-sized 1000sf apartment however, is not a recipe for domestic harmony.
    And to the welcoming ‘burbs we go.

  7. Posted by anon

    So the government should mandate more large housing because the demand for large housing is high, but builders are building smaller units because the demand is higher for smaller units (hence the “they can make more money” quote)? Is that the deal?
    Yes, certainly it’s the government that’s pushing families out of the city…

  8. Posted by TheRealScoop

    Some of the buildings in the SFDC (a la 2 Henry Adams, 101 Henry Adams, etc) have such character. I hope the new construction has such character as well. There are so few brick construction buildings in SF, this area has the potential to be really cool. I love it down there. More Pazzos, Dos Pinas, and Horatius for me, please!!

  9. Posted by Rillion

    “So the government should mandate more large housing because the demand for large housing is high, but builders are building smaller units because the demand is higher for smaller units (hence the “they can make more money” quote)? Is that the deal?”
    I think smaller units are more profitable for developers which is why they build more of them. They are more profitable because generally the price/sq is higher for 1bd’s, then for 2bd’s, which is higher then for 3bd’s. For example in my complex when I bought my 2bd, it went for around 600 sq ft, the 1bd’s at the time when for around 620 sq ft, and the 3bd’s went for 590 sq ft.
    Then when you also factor in that you can fit more smaller units into the same footprint, it does create an incentive for a developer to build a lot of smaller units rather then a few big units. This works up to a certain point until people just get turn off by how small the places are, as Cubix has shown.

  10. Posted by A.T.

    fluj 3:18, of course government policy has an impact on whether the city is family friendly — in many ways. You’re not seriously disputing that, are you?

  11. Posted by Pedestrianist

    Instead of inventing the name “Brannan Alley,” they should name is as a continuation of Bluxome Street.

  12. Posted by abc

    This seems to be a somewhat cyclical issue – cities don’t support larger developments so families move to the suburbs so de facto the family sizes in cities shrink and there’s less demand for larger units and developers build smaller units.
    Once you get into the price range that a nice 3-bedroom house costs in this city, you might as well move to Palo Alto or Marin where you get all that space + more and you don’t have to deal with all the BS and craziness of this city. And that’s exactly what people with resources do…
    Fewer families in the city means fewer families who vote for their interests and fewer family-friendly policies…..

  13. Posted by zig

    “you are spot on that the schools issue has no easy answer”
    More smaller charter schools and more choice are easy (not perfect)answers
    At the federal level vouchers would be nice too but we don’t need to go there
    Just good smaller public schools that focus on different things and have standards for admission and higher expectations would suffice for me.

  14. Posted by jk

    I think most of these plans are submitted by developers who are seeking to maximize profit, not government bureaucrats or Chris Daly operatives. There is more profit in more, smaller units, so that is what you see in these developments. You see more family-friendly condos/apartments in the subsidized housing arena, because those require government money and that is where govt can exert influence. I know the City can require a certain level of BMR for new PRIVATE developments, but don’t think they can require a different mix of unit sizes. Anyone know if the city provides any incentives for family-sized condos?

  15. Posted by Invented

    While we’re not NY, I wouldn’t be surprised if combining units becomes more common here especially as San Francisco matures, and particularly in quality buildings. That is, if permitted and structurally possible.
    http://nyti.ms/ceCjrj
    It’s a viable alternative to moving to the burbs I guess….

  16. Posted by stucco-sux

    Holy Jesus, the Starbucks embedded motor cycle cops from hell who have raised latte guzzling with ticket writing to a high art form must be extra-foaming at the mouth over this one.
    Word to the wise: your neighborhood welcome committee down in these parts is 1) traffic tickets 2) Marina chicks heading for the design district with one finger on the cell phone and the other on the horn 3) Mr. Mega-poop (some days its a dog, some days its a man)

  17. Posted by joh

    That guy in the NY Times article linked above is foolish. Instead of combining 3 units, he should have bought a big place in the distant burbs, and a pied-a-terre for those nights he “works” long hours (a la Donald Draper). Talk about lost opportunities.
    I’m sure some in SF have thought about combining smaller condo units, as a way of getting more than one parking space.

  18. Posted by joh

    Fewer families in the city means fewer families who vote for their interests and fewer family-friendly policies…..
    I remember hearing Gavin Newsom say that while he was running for Mayor, dog interests were way more important than children’s interests.

  19. Posted by Gigi

    “Cost of housing plus lousy schools combine to drive families out of SF.”
    True, but isn’t that a lot of major cities? Middle & upper class people do not send their kids to public schools in NYC, LA, or Chicago. So if you have school-aged kids, unless you have a ton of money and can afford a 3-bedroom that’s 1 million+ or you’re willing to live in a less desirable neighborhood to stay in the city – then from a practical standpoint moving to the burbs makes the most sense.
    I don’t think inventory is the issue – it’s the affordability of these “family friendly” houses that is the real problem. But that’s the free market for you. Of course places in SF are going to be more expensive than the burbs. Living in SF is better! (And don’t have kids if you can’t afford them!)

  20. Posted by intheknow

    @jk:
    Yes, the City can and does put minimum requirements on the mix of unit sizes. This is a relatively new phenomenon however, and the requirement is pretty liberal: minimum 40% of units in new projects in most areas must be at least 2 bd or larger. What that has generally meant is that the 40% is almost exclusively 2 bd, with a couple 3 bd thrown for fun.

  21. Posted by A.T.

    Gigi, SF has the highest percentage of kids in private schools of any major city — higher than NY or Chicago. Middle and upper class people certainly do send their kids to public schools in NYC, LA, and Chicago (anecdotally, a childhood friend is general counsel at a major firm in Chicago and sends his kids to public schools). And SF has the lowest (or nearly so) percentage of kids, period, among major U.S. cities. I agree with you that SF is a better place to live than the surrounding areas, but families with kids apparently do not agree with that as proven by the numbers. These numbers are not entirely “the free market” at work but in no small part the result of government actions, primarily horrible management of the public schools, but also planning policies that encourage housing that is not suitable for families. By restricting supply, prices of suitable housing rise. “Affordability” and “inventory” are two sides of the same coin (see law of supply and demand).
    I think lots of families would be willing and able to pay high housing prices if they could send their kids to good public schools — like they do in Piedmont, Tiburon, Palo Alto, etc., all of which have higher housing prices than SF. But the SF schools stink so you have to factor in $20,000/yr tuition into the budget. Adding to this is the dearth of large enough housing exacerbated by planning policies, which only hikes prices and adds to the expenses. I can afford to stay here even when kids come along (one due in two months) but I’d rather be in a city where there are middle class kids and not just rich and poor.

  22. Posted by MarinaRenter

    Historically, 3-bedrooms are more difficult to sell for developers in cities, because your target market is families, so you are competing with homes in the burbs with better schools, a backyard, and more living space for the same price. Personally, I hate suburbia, so I don’t want to move out of the city, when I have kids. I think this is an important post, and we should demand more 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom flats. We need to build more housing in this city, which will decrease the cost-of-living over time.

  23. Posted by anon

    Gigi, SF has the highest percentage of kids in private schools of any major city — higher than NY or Chicago.
    Yes, but NY and Chicago take up a much larger share of the overall metro area. SF is around 10% of the Bay Area, NY is above 40% of the NY metro, and Chicago is around 35% of the Chicago metro. You’re talking about apples to bananas.

  24. Posted by A.T.

    “SF is around 10% of the Bay Area, NY is above 40% of the NY metro, and Chicago is around 35% of the Chicago metro.”
    Uh, sure, OK. I said nothing about metro areas but only about the cities themselves. SF has a higher proportion of kids in private schools that NY, LA, or Chicago.

  25. Posted by jk

    Thanks intheknow – I didn’t realize the city dictated mix of unit sizes. As a parent with a kid in public schools, I think the tide has turned on the school issue. There are a lot of good schools in SF, not just the same old “top five” from past years. That is notwithstanding significant funding cuts from the State (which is out of our hands). Many of the improving schools are in neighborhoods that were typically outside of “real SF”, as parents in those neighborhoods decided to really invest in making them better. That may be part of the vicious circle – the vast majority of new units are being built in SOMA, but SOMA doesn’t have good schools, so families don’t want to live there, so builders don’t build 3BR units, rinse and repeat.

  26. Posted by Gigi

    I agree…the public school system here stinks, but I think it does in most major cities. I’ve lived in both Philly and New Orleans which have AWFUL public schools. Are there any big cities where public schools are successful (I am asking honestly here)?
    NYC may have a higher percentage of middle/upper class kids in public schools than SF, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are good. I lived in Manhattan for 7 years (and grew up outside the city my whole life) and the majority of the public schools there I would never send my child to (not that I have one, but just sayin….).
    For older kids, there are a few outstanding charter schools that everyone rushes to get their kids into. If you get into Stuyvesant for instance, it’s amazing and better than a lot of private schools – but other than the few schools like that, they’re *really* bad. If you want your kid to get into an Ivy or second-tier private college, most Manhattan parents are forced to pay for an outrageously expensive “feeder” school, or move to the burbs.
    Doesn’t SF also do some crazy busing thing with the kids too?

  27. Posted by zig

    anecdotal story
    relatives of my wife’s in Manhattan send their kids to public schools and told me that they have increasingly nice choices and a number of excellent smaller charter schools which are meeting the needs of the middle and upper middle class types.
    She told me personally sending her kids to public 15 years ago would have been out of the question for her.
    In my opinion there would be a political resistance to this in San Francisco even if it was shown to work.
    Also, it should be said that the Catholic schools in SF are FILLED with middle and working class kids who have parents who sacrifice greatly to get their kids away from the public ones. Take a ride by your neighborhood Catholic school and have a look at the demographics

  28. Posted by zig

    “If you want your kid to get into an Ivy or second-tier private college, most Manhattan parents are forced to pay for an outrageously expensive “feeder” school, or move to the burbs.”
    I understand how a parent’s connection can facilitate getting a kid into a good private school but how does moving to the suburbs do this?
    I guess for someone totally unconnected you might have better odds being from a single parent home succeeding in a poor school than competing at a good public school

  29. Posted by A.T.

    “Doesn’t SF also do some crazy busing thing with the kids too?”
    That’s an understatement! IMHO, the asinine school assignment system is the primary reason for the flight from public schools in SF. In its zeal to ensure that no school was disproportionately populated with good students, SF ensured that all the schools were equally bad (OK — there are still some gradations of bad). Lowell high is good and a couple of elementary schools are OK. Too bad for the 90+ % that get assigned somewhere else, and the middle schools all stink. Actually the fact that there are a tiny number of OK schools may even make it worse as people understandably kill themselves to try to squeeze into those to save $20,000/yr.

  30. Posted by jk

    I know this thread isn’t about schools, but I think some of these folks should stick to RE comments and leave the school comments to relevant blogs. As a recent SFUSD parent, I can say categorically that kids can get a good education here, especially at the elementary level. Yes the assignment system was unpredictable, but mostly because there were too many people trying to get into too few schools-most of the people who went O-7 picked from a list of 10-12 schools, and there are WAY more good schools than that. SFUSD also has stuff that ‘burban people can’t get, such as year-round schools and language immersion. As evidenced here, perceptions don’t match reality, though those perceptions are certainly influencing suburban-flight behavior. Add to those perceptions high cost/low availability of housing >1 BR and you have a recipe for flight.

  31. Posted by EBGuy

    As evidenced here, perceptions don’t match reality, though those perceptions are certainly influencing suburban-flight behavior.
    There is one stat that supports some suburban-flight behavior. By all other measures, you have urban flight to desirable areas in the core of the Bay Area. Some examples for Ess Eff:
    White flight to urban core (no small feat given demographic trends in California).
    Increase in households with children less than 18 years old.
    Increase in educational attainment of residents.

  32. Posted by zig

    “SFUSD also has stuff that ‘burban people can’t get, such as year-round schools and language immersion.”
    Lots of language immersion schools on the Pennsiaula along with diversity
    Burbs are changing
    http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Language-immersion-takes-off-76575297.html

  33. Posted by jk

    sorry zig, the peninsula is still catching up to SF on this. I have friends on the peninsula who actually considered sending their kid to a private immersion school in SF because there are so few down there and the chances of getting in are slim. Turns out that private immersion doesn’t exist – real immersion needs 50% native speakers, and the pricey schools can’t attract enough native speakers (especially spanish). I think they will catch up, but home prices down aren’t cheap either.

  34. Posted by Gigi

    Hey Zig,
    What I meant is that (in general) a child who attends K-12 at good public schools in the burbs vs one who attends bad public schools in the city will probably get into better colleges. They’ll do better on their SATs, have an improved capacity to write a decent college application essay, have better AP test scores, have access to more Honors/AP classes, and more school activities on their resume (bad city schools are notorious for their lack of choices and funding when it comes to athletic and arts programs).
    A big issue is that teachers generally teach to whatever level the *majority* of the class is at. So if your child is reading at a 10th grade level but everyone else is reading at a 5th grade level, what is your kid really learning?

  35. Posted by anon

    Uh, sure, OK. I said nothing about metro areas but only about the cities themselves. SF has a higher proportion of kids in private schools that NY, LA, or Chicago.
    I know what you said. But it’s not a comparable stat, because since these other cities have a higher proportion of their metro areas within their city limits, they have a wider range of housing opportunity – not as much of the cities themselves are taken up by the young and childless (or rich). If you take just Manhattan or just the northeastern third of Chicago, you’d be talking about similar percentages of the metro – and similar levels of kids in private schools.

  36. Posted by zig

    “If you take just Manhattan or just the northeastern third of Chicago, you’d be talking about similar percentages of the metro – and similar levels of kids in private schools.”
    Are you making this up or this is a real stat?

  37. Posted by Mike Sullivan

    I’m sure it’s in here somewhere, but are these rentals or condos?

  38. Posted by AlfieJr

    San Francisco is indeed an artificially small city thanks to its gold-rush era city limits. if it had merged with Oakland/Berkely (= Brooklyn), northern San Mateo County (= Queens) and Marin (= Staten Island) as Manhattan (= San Francisco) did at the end of the 19th century, all its total demographic stats, like % of kids, would be very different. so that overall context is important to note for comparisions.

  39. Posted by A.T.

    SF is not that small. It’s bigger than Paris geographically (about 20% bigger), and twice as big as Manhattan. It is not that densely populated compared to those two cities except for a few small areas that are quite dense (Chinatown). The “SF is like Manhattan” argument doesn’t wash at all.

  40. Posted by anon

    ^Sure it does, when you take into account when and how each of those three cities developed.

  41. Posted by AlfieJr

    was comparing functions, not size and nose counts, to NYC’s boroughs. of course the match is not exact that way, duh. beyond the 19th century part of SF and East Bay, our land use is a california 20th century model, not old east coast cities and certainly not European.

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