July 23, 2010

Copy That, 1800 Van Ness/1754 Clay Street Site Sells For $4.25M

1800 Van Ness Avenue (Image Source: MapJack.com)

As we wrote a year ago March:

As far as we know what is currently a two-story FedEx Kinko’s on the northeast corner of Van Ness and Clay is still slated to become “The Sterling of San Francisco,” an eight-story, 62-unit "senior living community" with 82 parking spaces, 5,100 square feet of ground-floor commercial, and a more upscale 1754 Clay Street address.

As a plugged-in reader quickly added:

Not gonna happen. They lost their funding. Should be on the market in a month.

And as the San Francisco Business Times reports today, the entitled site has finally sold to Oyster Development (founded by former Intracorp San Francisco head Dean Givas) for $4.25 million with sights set on breaking ground within 12 to 24 months.

The original Sterling design as once proposed:

The Sterling of San Francisco: Design Proposal

Serving Up The Seniors (Rather Than The Copies) At 1754 Clay Street [SocketSite]
Former Intracorp exec jumps at Pac Heights site [San Francisco Business Times]

First Published: July 23, 2010 9:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Why would there be so much parking? Would this be a staffed facility? Or was there a thought that some of this parking would be public?

I guess we'll see if they go with the originally entitled design, but it seems curious to me.

Posted by: curmudgeon at July 23, 2010 9:55 AM

Parking is for families to see Granny -- not for Granny's car.

Posted by: scurvy at July 23, 2010 10:09 AM

Also, don't confuse 'senior living community' with 'nursing home'. They are very different. The former are very expensive places for seniors with the money to afford top notch care as they get older.

Posted by: CameronRex at July 23, 2010 10:23 AM

Those SF BizTimes links are for a project in Richmond, CA.

[Editor’s Note: The link is to the Real Estate “WRAPUP,” of which the 1800 Van Ness piece is part (but lower on the page).]

Posted by: spitpalm at July 23, 2010 10:31 AM

Parking is BAD. Much better for elderly, weak-sighted, frail people to drive around and around the block looking for a space. Cars are evil and anyone who wants one is a running dog capitalist.

Anyone who advocates for parking is an enemy of the City, and should be arrested and put into a re-education program.

Posted by: Conifer at July 23, 2010 10:42 AM

Oh, Conifer, don't read so much into my statement. I just didn't think so much parking would be necessary for a project of this type, and was wondering what the assumption is. I can see if it's full of active, wealthy elderly they will probably have cars. But I would think the demographics of this sort of project would also include a lot of folks who choose to give up their cars.

Oh, and it's actually better for elderly, frail, weak sighted people to not drive at all, for the record. I hope I give up my car before I plow into some poor schlep crossing the street...

Someone pointed out that visitor parking would be a componenet, which actually makes a good deal of sense. And I expect staff parking might be a minor component too. But I still think it's probably more parking than the actual "demand" for this type of project.

Posted by: curmudgeon at July 23, 2010 10:48 AM

r u sure this will remain senior housing?

Posted by: craig at July 24, 2010 2:52 PM

I am curious why so many discussions turn into a discussion about parking and cars on this site. Is it an issue unique to San Francisco? I don't want to be insulting, but I think the auto-parking obsession is part of a growing Bay Area cultural problem of wanting to FORCE others to adhere to some people's notion of a politically correct way to live.

But who are others to judge me and how I use the planet's and region's resources? If I work from home, and only use my car to load up on groceries at Whole Foods because at my age I am physically unable to carry them on a bus, does that make me worse than someone in Noe who rides a bus 50 miles every day to work? The non-car commuter uses more air and energy than I do working from home, yet I would get dirty looks while driving from those who are "better" than myself.

Posted by: anonandon at July 24, 2010 3:14 PM

When are you going to stop polluting in my air and demanding tax money to support your unhealthy and filthy habit?

If car drivers paid the full cost of their use, including externalized costs, it would be fine. But they don't and never will. They are always doing things like demanding that developers build more parking for them.

Posted by: NoeValleyJijm at July 24, 2010 6:10 PM

If your only use of your automobile is 2 miles/wk back and forth to the grocery store, then you are not part of the problem.

It is the average over entitled American driver, who puts 12,000/yr and is destroying the planet, that is the one causing the problems.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 24, 2010 6:31 PM

@anonandon
I think you got your answer from NVJ. Seems he does want to tell you how to live.

Posted by: Skirunman at July 24, 2010 6:37 PM

NVJ has been writing this kind of nonsense for a long time. NVJ wants to be in the position of choosing who is the problem and who is approved. People with those attitudes tried to rule many countries in the 20th century, and whether left or right, they failed.
Even the liberal socialist countries have scaled back hugely, and continue to do so.

Skirunman is right.

Posted by: Conifer at July 25, 2010 4:17 PM

How ironic that a suggestion to end public subsidies to auto users is met with claims of socialism. Are you one of those who wants to "keep your government hands off my Medicare" too?

The liberal socialist countries are scaling back on their efforts to combat global warming? Why do you believe that?

Seventy five percent of the American public "believe the Earth is warming because of human activity, and they want the government to stop it" according to a recent Stanford poll. Enjoy your literal "free ride" while it lasts. It won't be around for much longer.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 25, 2010 9:58 PM

There's nothing wrong with having cars and letting people have the freedom to have cars.

I agree that car driving is also massively subsidized: infrastructure, cost of injuries, environmental consequences.

Having the true cost of driving charged to the drivers would be morally right, but impractical (toll roads everywhere?) as well as counter-productive. Cranking up gas prices from $3 to $4/gallon diminished demand but this represents ~$600/y to a 12K miles driver on 20 miles/gallon. If you charge all the costs of driving to all drivers, the bill would be so huge that it would cripple the economy.

There are many things right with cars. But the main issue is that they run on fossil fuels which causes greenhouse gases and finances terrorism and dictatures. Solve that problem and 90% of objections to cars will disappear.

Posted by: lol at July 26, 2010 9:24 AM

Let me add:

We also need viable alternatives to cars, everywhere possible. Bikes, public transportation. They have to be promoted with the same effort cars are promoted. But look at the money spent on automobile transportation and how much is spent on cycling. Directing 10% of what we spend on cars towards cycling for instance would be a tremendous push towards a true alternative program. The same thing goes for public transport. If it were in par with what we spend on roads we'd have thousands of miles of HSR in California already.

Posted by: lol at July 26, 2010 9:30 AM

"If you charge all the costs of driving to all drivers, the bill would be so huge that it would cripple the economy."

Or one could argue that the status quo of auto dependence is already crippling the economy and increasing. A huge amount of this nation's productive output goes towards supporting an inefficient petroleum based transportation system. One of the biggest concerns of continuing down that road is that petroleum is a limited resource. Once we're over Hubbert's Peak fuel costs will rapidly rise and then what ? We've already invested trillions in cities and facilities that are centered around the car. That's not easy to change quickly.

"Directing 10% of what we spend on cars towards cycling for instance would be a tremendous push towards a true alternative program."

Yes, 10% would make a noticeable difference. Our current expenditures towards bike and pedestrian infrastructure combined is about 1% of the total transportation tangible budget. And to make matters worse many of the projects the paltry 1% funds for human powered transport are actually designed to benefit motorists first.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 26, 2010 11:03 AM

Milkshake,

I did not imply we didn't already pay that price. It is shared between drivers and non drivers.

I am just saying that if we presented the full bill to car drivers as a pay-to-drive fee, this would stop a lot of people from driving. say granny uses her old Caprice to go to Trader Joe's 3 miles round trip and the true cost per mile is say $3 instead of the 60 cents in gas she is currently factoring in. She'd change her habits really fast. This would greatly change the way we do things today, and temporarily cripple the economy in its current flow until we find a new balance. But nobody wants to take the pain, or be the one inflicitng it, even though we all know our way of life won't last forever with fossil fuels.

Posted by: lol at July 26, 2010 11:25 AM

lol - I didn't mean to sound as if I was refuting your point and I do agree with your point that a sudden recognition of the real costs would be a shock. We've been sweeping a lot under the carpet ! Instead the recognition of the external costs should be phased in to allow people to gradually adapt to the new norm.

... but what we really get is a continued head-in-the-sand approach assuming that petroleum will remain plentiful and cheap. I get really concerned that Hubbert's Peak combined with a global power shift is going to really smack us hard and result in much more pain and strife than necessary.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 26, 2010 11:37 AM

It could smack us hard. But if history shows us anything, it's our ability to reinvent ourselves and lead the way. Maybe we've become too soft with all these years spent on the ivory tower. Competitors right now are grabbing whatever they can in terms of resources (i.e. the slow but steady colonization of Africa by China). Getting rid of fossil fuels and being 100% foreign energy independent would put us above the fray in that domain.

Posted by: lol at July 26, 2010 11:54 AM

I'm certainly no expert on the "true costs" of automobile driving so please share with me some facts or links that "car driving is also massively subsidized: infrastructure, cost of injuries, environmental consequences." or "A huge amount of this nation's productive output goes towards supporting an inefficient petroleum based transportation system." Of course I know roads are subsidized by our government, just like all infrastructure is/and should be if you want a viable economy. All forms of transportation have been subsidized by all successful governments going back to the Romans and their roads. Are combustion engine cars the be-all and end-all, of course not, but they are the most viable choice today in many cases and let the individual decide how to spend their money. Vote out the politicians that support the legislation that provides the subsidies if you want, but trying to tell others how lead their lives smacks of liberal totalitarianism IMO.

Posted by: Skirunman at July 26, 2010 12:07 PM

I do not favor forbidding cars or charging the true costs. Re-read my posts before flaming.

Simply:

1 - Offering one or more alternatives, in proportion to what is done for cars. Right now, some cities are all cars all the time. Cycling is good for some trips some of the time. Same thing for railway. Offering alternatives would partly be offset by the lower impact on roads of less cars (therefore less maintenance and less cost for the upkeep).

2 - Switching to non-oil cars ASAP. We have the technology. We have the resources: huge country, lots of sun, wind, arable land and most important smart and entrepreneurial people. We could build an atom bomb in less than 5 years and put a man on the moon in less than 10. We just need to find the guts our elders had and see the long term benefits instead of the short term effort.

You can drive as much as you want, the way you want, as long as it doesn't affect my well-being, I don't care. But I want another solution offered to myself.

Posted by: lol at July 26, 2010 1:05 PM

Skirunman - there are a some studies out there with varying levels assumptions. I don't think that anyone has a complete handle on all of the external costs. For example the SPUR report http://www.spur.org/publications/library/article/estimatingtheexternalcostsofdrivinginsf09012005 only makes a passing mention the cost of "free" parking. Parking costs alone are quite large when you consider that we need about 3X as many parking spaces as cars to make things function smoothly. Another cost that is hard to quantify is the cost of death and injury from collision. Though many wealthy people carry higher coverage, motorists are only required to carry basic insurance which would pay a token amount ($50K ?) when liability for death is determined. The value on a lost human life is not universally agreed though I think that most people would agree that the value of a life far exceeds what basic liability insurance would pay. There are other external effects like this : shortened life due to pollution induced respiratory disease for example. Then there's special treatment given to the auto/petro infrastructure. Did you know that many refineries and oil depots receive federal security protections ? Why not have the oil companies pay directly for the security of their installations ?

I found your statement interesting :

"...but trying to tell others how lead their lives smacks of liberal totalitarianism IMO."

... because we already basically tell people that they should be using exclusively automobiles via our traffic laws and built infrastructure. It isn't so common in SF but there are many regions in the suburban sprawl where walking and cycling are aggressively implicitly discouraged. And in some cases those options are explicitly not allowed. It wasn't until the 1980s that some addresses on the Santa Clara county expressway system were only reachable in a car. And just as there's been an ongoing effort towards creating new non-auto transport infrastructure, the auto infrastructure continues to slowly and almost imperceptibly chip away at the viability of other modes.

If totalitarianism disturbs you then try to imagine what your week would be like if you did not want to drive a car. For most bay area residents it is very discouraging. And that's a big reason why other transport options have such a small mode share. They are incomplete and challenging to use when compared to the highly subsidized and very complete auto infrastructure.

The petro and auto industry has done a really amazing job of promoting the idea that automobiles provide freedom when in reality they enslave each and every one of us a bit.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 26, 2010 6:21 PM

oh my MOD, lets stay on RE

Posted by: givemeabreak at July 26, 2010 6:43 PM

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