Potrero Center

The site of the old San Francisco Seals Stadium until 1959 and currently home to a 227,000-square-foot strip mall anchored by a 60,000-square-foot Safeway, the Potrero Center at 2300 16th Street has been put up for sale.

“Under the Eastern Neighborhoods rezoning, the nine-acre site at 2300 16th St. is part of a mixed-use district that allows for 85-foot heights. The site sits on the top of a hill on the border of the Mission District and Potrero Hill. The property has 704 parking spaces.

Whatever development occurs at the site would have to involve Safeway, which has a long-term lease on its 60,000-square-foot market. No redevelopment plan has been filed with the city’s planning department, although the firm Christiani Johnson Architects has done some preliminary drawings of what might be built on the site.”

Based on the size of the site, a redevelopment could yield up to 1,800 apartments.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Jim

    Would be a great addition to the neighborhood. Park next door, views at 85 foot height, onsite parking (shared with Safeway I would guess). I suspect the project would take several years to get approved however, traffic impacts the major EIR focus unless the SF bike coalition makes everyone own a bike to live there.

  2. Posted by Invented

    That whole complex is a gang magnet. Creepy and wholly unsafe. Until it disappears, be careful.

  3. Posted by lol

    It’s a hilltop, which would fit nicely with the SF tradition of complementing hills with taller buildings.
    Plus, the current mall, despite its convenience, it a bit too car-centric. Pedestrians cross the parking lot to get there and I always feel like intruding on strange ground when cycling or walking into it.
    Cars belong below ground. People belong above ground.

  4. Posted by A.T.

    I’m not even sure Sotheby’s would have the skills and budget to photoshop out that mess of overhead wires.

  5. Posted by sparky-b

    Screw the electric bus, we don’t want to see wires!

  6. Posted by lol

    traffic impacts the major EIR focus unless the SF bike coalition makes everyone own a bike to live there.
    Be aware that most cyclists also own cars. It’s not a clean-cut tug of war, more like a re-balancing of priorities towards more freedom of choice.
    Many cities across the nation would be appropriate ground for bicycle transit, but because of a now defunct common belief that cars always were more beneficial than bicycles, roads got to be a de-facto car monopoly.
    Now that we all understand that thoroughfares are for people, whether they want/need/choose one way of transportation or another, we need to offer the opportunity of choice to everyone, along with the safety requirements that comes with it.
    It’s not cars vs. bicycles. It’s a question of allowing as much personal choice as possible.
    I live in SF and not in the SV or the Peninsula or the EB precisely because of this, and I bring my valuable skills and decent income along with me like many cyclists. Sunnyvale, Oakland, San Carlos, Mountain View or whatnot all suck cycling-wise. They’re trying but the cycling special interest hasn’t reached Critical Mass there to be heard (pun intended). Cycling in these cities is usually a week-end activity that starts with a car trip 😉

  7. Posted by inclinejj

    Is this where the SF Auto Center was? Toyota dealership??

  8. Posted by Jim

    @lol “It’s not cars vs. bicycles. It’s a question of allowing as much personal choice as possible.” Actually with the SFBC it is exactly that! I am a member of the group and attend their board meetings and the Board wants to make driving in SF a miserable experience. So in order to do that you turn one way streets back to two way streets (the way it was when I was growing up here), removing curb side parking, slow traffic, reduce code required parking in new residential construction, increase parking meter fees…on and on.

  9. Posted by 47yo hipster

    Yeah, almost whateves they do here with higher density/residential units will be an improvement over the dork-wad suburban strip mall that now exists. But it would be great if they do something really innovative with the crack-ho park next door. (I took a walk on it the other day, after my nice sushi lunch at Live Sushi. You know the Dolores beach scene at Dolores Park? Well, this park is homeless-skank-ho beach, yuck!) Maybe connect them via overhead bridge. Tying that park into the new development could lift that whole middling corner.
    Me love me the new mission!

  10. Posted by [anon.ed]

    A group of cyclists once again just passed my car on the right, from positions behind me, while I was starting to turn, and I was signalling all along for a right-hand turn. So I honked. Two or three of them flipped me off and said “f-you.” Unfortunately that is the typical SF bikey nutjob behavior that defines the group for normal people in this town.

  11. Posted by 47yo hipster

    LOL. Jim- are you a mole? Won’t the bike nazis plan your assassination, or exile to Guantanamo?!?

  12. Posted by 47yo hipster

    Fluj- when I’m driving in the mish I find most of the cyclists fine (just let them run their stop signs, and all is usually a-ok.) but like anything else in this nut job city, you can’t empower the bicycle coalition/political wackos too much, or they turn insane, and the entitlement attitude is unleashed. One thing that enables that is that tired and retarded ‘critical crass’. I swear, it’s like grow the f*ck up already!

  13. Posted by Willow

    “Is this where the SF Auto Center was? Toyota dealership??”
    You are dating yourself inclinejj! 🙂 They also had a Budget or Hertz next door. I rented my first car here. Fond memories.
    I’m probably in the minority on this site but I like the way the complex is currently setup.
    (Invented, you can’t be serious about the gang magnet comment? Just because someone looks “urban” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a gang banger. It’s a look…)

  14. Posted by [anon.ed]

    I’m cool with running stop signs now too. I take it as a fact of life. Unless somebody is bombing and you need to slam on the brakes, or unless it’s a stoplight. But that “pass signalling motorist from behind, on the right” move? It’s even specifically up on that Bike Coalition website as an idiotic way to create an accident. And tons of ’em do it.

  15. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    As much as I like the idea of increasing density to 85′ here I find it a little disconcerting that we treat buildings as disposable these days. Granted these are just basic bland big-box retail structures and nobody will cry for their loss, but they did require significant capital to put into place. How old are they? Not even twenty years?
    Here’s a fun detour about this site: Todd Lappin’s search for the Seal’s home plate site. Turns out it is in the middle of Office Depot.
    [trying very hard not to jump into this OT pro/anti bike fray ….]

  16. Posted by A.T.

    A lot of these guys are simply playing chicken or gunning for a chance to force a driver to slam on the breaks and then to flip off the driver. Or they just have a death wish. Ridiculous.
    I’ve had so many idiot bicyclists pass on the right despite my turn signal that I’ve adopted a new practice (I don’t want to kill someone even if I would be blameless). If I see a bicyclist in my rear view mirror, when I’m turning right I simply signal and pull way over to the right ahead of time so there is literally no room for a bicyclist to pass between me and the curb or parked cars. They have to either break (as they should) or pass on my left which is fine with me.

  17. Posted by JMK

    It seems sort of silly to redevelop a redevelopment, what with all the other vacant lots and crummy blocks in the area. The rest of the area needs to be redeveloped (sensibly), not the mall.

  18. Posted by sf

    Fantastic! I’ve been waiting to hear news that this awkward ugly suburban disaster would be redeveloped into something fit for a great American city.
    Safeway on Market- you’re next!!

  19. Posted by SF Cyclist

    A.T., when I took my driver’s exam, there was a question on the proper way for a motorist to make a right turn when there is a bike lane on the right side of the road. The answer was to do exactly what you did above: put on your blinker, merge into the bike lane so bicyclists cannot pass you on the right, then make your right turn.
    You make it sound as if you are doing something out of the ordinary by doing this. I wish all motorists understood this. …and I don’t understand why motorists get pissed off when bicyclists pass them on the right. Yes, they are taking their lives in their hands, but that’s because most motorists are poor drivers, not because they don’t have the right-of-way.

  20. Posted by lol

    yeah, [anon.ed], I hear you.
    The issue with crossings is pretty controversial. To pass a car to the left, you have to wait to get behind it, then go left between that car and the one behind (if there’s enough space, then go left to pass the first car, checking there’s no car zooming past on the left lane. It can be tricky. That’s what I do when I am in a safe configuration. This is why we need dedicated bike lanes with clear markings and/or separation. Going down Market every day, the bottlenecks caused by the F line stops do not allow much more than wiggling around and improvising. No solution to that. Plus pedestrians will jump from the platform to pass between stopped cars which cyclists doing the “right thing” by passing to the left know how too well…
    It’s all about choice. Often I see 15 bikes at a red light around 9AM, and 3 or 4 cars. It’s very messy when the light turns to green which is why many cyclists just get a head start on the green light, at their own peril.
    And about discouraging cars, that’s a no brainer for the future. You cannot have a high density plan and still keep the old car usage patterns. Ask any chinese city what happened when they overbuilt all their condo towers. Hours and hours wasted in traffic jams and their car ownership rate is not even close to us. Do we want this for SF?

  21. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “not because they don’t have the right-of-way”
    They don’t have the right of way. Not when the car is in front, signalling, and already moving.

  22. Posted by curmudgeon

    gang banger territory? No, I’ve never seen anything that concerned me there. It’s a very busy and well utilized shopping center.
    I’m kinda with Willow. I’d be a bit sorry to see this go, simply because it is so convenient. I’m not crazy about Safeway, but it is huge.
    I’m sure not holding my breath, as this would be a complicated rebuild with a supermarket below presumably. (It’s been done several times in SF, but that was pre-real estate crash…I imagine it will take a while for such a complicated project to pencil out again). But I agree that this would have some pretty great views, and could be really successful.
    Re: bikes. When I drive on streets with bike lanes, I find myself checking constantly on bicyclists locations, particularly if I’m taking a right turn. Which is the point actually…awareness makes it safer. Many drivers probably don’t realize why the bike lane stripes go dotted towards the intersections…it is to indicate to right turning cars that they can (should) drift into the bike lane…that’s actually safer for bikers because it indicates what the car is doing…along WITH the signal. Then the bike can safely go around you to the left.
    I agree that there are some a##hole bikers out there who do dangerous things. (and a##hole drivers too…who are driving much more dangerous machines). We’ve all got to share the road.
    Oh, and at the risk of getting into an argument…of course bikes should go through stop signs if they are first to the intersection and are in no danger to themselves or others. So many drivers harp on that one, but it only takes one day in a bike seat to understand the logic of it.

  23. Posted by R

    “gang banger territory?”
    I think what invented meant is he saw some black people there. Or maybe Mexicans.

  24. Posted by curmudgeon

    ^ R that was my assumption too.

  25. Posted by 47yo hipster

    I agree fluj…forgot to acknowledge your point about the right hand turn.
    The thing I hate is when some spaced out biker has her headphones on and is biking in the middle of a narrow 2 laner, oblivious that a car is behind her. Or when there are two cyclists riding side by side, blocking your ability to pass. Some aggressive tailgating usually resolves that though.

  26. Posted by crispy

    @A.T., @SF Cyclist: I heard the same thing, and it seems far safer. The alternative of having cars turning wide right across a bike lane at the last minute, only to stop for pedestrians in the cross walk, leaves a much larger obstacle to get around (and pisses off the cars behind it, too).
    As for the potrero shopping center, I’ve never seen what I’d call gang types there but I’ve seen a ton of people just sitting in there cars in the parking lot at all times of the day or night. They’re there when I go into Safeway… they’re there when I get out of Safeway.

  27. Posted by lol

    Some aggressive tailgating usually resolves that though.
    Try and stay safe!
    Believe me, I am often fuming out my ears at some dangerous behavior from my fellow cyclists.
    I fume at idiot cyclists with both earbuds, or with a bike so cool they wouldn’t dare to spoil it with brakes, or veering right and left to avoid any kind of bump that their bike was designed to withstand (I am passing you, you cannot see me, therefore please keep a straight line). There are many selfish pri@ks, mostly young me-me-me poseurs.
    Last week-end a track bike with no brakes crashed into me while I was doing a safety stop after a kid started crossing my lane. He couldn’t stop, of course, he had no brakes. He threw us into the car lane. I am happy to be still typing these words with only a few bruises on my legs and my ego.
    Anyway, don’t get me started on these idiots who endanger others. Darwin doesn’t always pick the right ones.

  28. Posted by R

    “As for the potrero shopping center, I’ve never seen what I’d call gang types there but I’ve seen a ton of people just sitting in there cars in the parking lot at all times of the day or night. They’re there when I go into Safeway… they’re there when I get out of Safeway.”
    Sure, lots of folks in SF don’t have cars, so when they want to make a big supermarket run, they bum rides from friends/family. Those friends and family wait in the car listening to the radio, surfing Facebook on the phone, etc. etc.

  29. Posted by joh

    Most cyclists in the Mission are pretty good about right-of-ways and such, but there are still no shortage of self-entitled a-holes out there.
    Earlier this year, while I was just about to make a right after stopping at a stop sign with my signal on, completely in the bike lane, a cyclist passed me between the curb and my car. It was dark out, and there was a fair amount of traffic behind me — nothing but headlights in my mirrors. He had no lights whatsoever on his bike. Yet he passed on the right, without stopping at the stop sign, while towing his baby! I slammed my brakes, and then he had the nerve to yell something at me as he passed me. I considered chasing him down so I could tell him what it means to be a responsible parent, but decided it wasn’t worth the confrontation or the time.
    Another thing that bothers me is when cyclists block drivers’ ability to make right hand turns against a red by stopping in the middle of the crosswalk, and not behind it. Not really a big deal, but it does increase traffic congestion. Some cyclists are good about realizing, and back up or move out of the way.
    But overall I appreciate bikes. If each and every one of SF’s cyclists drove instead of rode, we’d have be some serious congestion. I commute by bicycle maybe 3-4x/month.

  30. Posted by joh

    I live a few blocks away from here, and while I’m all for redevelopment of this site, 1800 units seems a bit much. And I hope they don’t build the entire site to 85ft heights, not that they can anyways without creating summertime shadows on the park across the street.
    Whatever they do here, I hope it improves the walkability of 16th St down to the BART station. As it is now, it’s quite depressing/grungy/smelly.

  31. Posted by [anon.ed]

    to make right hand turns against a red by stopping in the middle of the crosswalk, and not behind it. Not really a big deal, but it does increase traffic
    Yeah, that too. They’ll pass you when you’re at a standstill and then go out into the intersection, blocking your ability to make a right on red. The city’s traffic grid was designed in a manner that took right turns on red into account. That move does cause congestion, no question about it.

  32. Posted by lol

    And I hope they don’t build the entire site to 85ft heights, not that they can anyways without creating summertime shadows on the park across the street.
    The park being south of the possible new development, I think the shadow would be a pretty minor issue, probably very early morning and late afternoon for 2-3 months a year. Also, the park is on higher ground and 16th is really wide there. You’d need very tall buildings to cast a light blocking shadow.

  33. Posted by BillyBalls

    Totally staying out of the bike debate.
    This is the old SF Auto Center and Toyota dealership, I believe. If you want dated, the old Lilli Ann factory was a few blocks up on 16th and Harrison.
    I’m amazed that simply the zoning density appears to be enough to demolish and develop a well working commercial property. 1800 units??? 85 feet??? too much density.
    Comments regarding gang-bangers make me laugh. For all intents and purposes, there are no gang bangers in San Francisco any more, at least as compared to the 1980s.

  34. Posted by Kathleen

    would make an nice urban farm.

  35. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    Potrero Center has the best transit service in San Francisco. There are two bus stops in one block. You can ride a bus from its south east corner to its south west corner! Unbeatable!

  36. Posted by rubber_chicken

    What a fantastic opportunity to create a fine grained neighborhood here with mixed uses, varied architects, building scales or even multiple developers.
    Anything but endless stucco formula…

  37. Posted by heynonnynonny

    Some aggressive tailgating usually resolves that though.
    I find that when I come to a complete stop and start waving my lock around, bullies like you inevitably back down. My nerves are shattered for the rest of the day but they would have been anyway.
    Unless it’s happened to you, you can’t imagine how terrifying it is to be on a bicycle with an aggressive driver behind you. It’s not fair and it’s not funny and if you’ve done this more than once you should see a therapist about it. Pick on someone your own size.

  38. Posted by sfrenegade

    A group of cyclists once again just passed my car on the right, from positions behind me, while I was starting to turn, and I was signalling all along for a right-hand turn. So I honked. Two or three of them flipped me off and said “f-you.” Unfortunately that is the typical SF bikey nutjob behavior that defines the group for normal people in this town.
    Very true. Many nutjob bikers in SF have a sense of entitlement and will blame it on you even when they’re in the wrong, whether you’re in a car or you’re a pedestrian. I’ve had plenty of bikers take it out on me when I had the right of way as a pedestrian — total jerks.
    I’m cool with running stop signs now too. I take it as a fact of life. Unless somebody is bombing and you need to slam on the brakes, or unless it’s a stoplight. But that “pass signalling motorist from behind, on the right” move? It’s even specifically up on that Bike Coalition website as an idiotic way to create an accident. And tons of ’em do it.
    Agree on the passing on the right, which is a big problem, but the other problem is that bikers constantly run stop signs and red lights not only in front of cars but also in front of pedestrians. The risk to the pedestrian is obvious, of course. Bikers in certain parts of town are better than others about this, but some jerkoff bikers just won’t stop for a walk signal.
    It can also be very unsafe for bikers to run red lights when a car is trying to clear an intersection after patiently waiting to make a left turn and having to wait until the light turns red. Many times I’ve seen an idiot biker run the red light in front of the car turning left, and this has happened to me while driving numerous times too. Then you not only have to slam on the brakes to avoid the idiot biker, but you also start worrying about oncoming traffic.
    Follow the rules and stop acting like a d**k, and people will stop complaining about bikers so much. But until then, they are a menace to pedestrians in this town.

  39. Posted by Pedestrianist

    Good riddance to the Potrero Center. Minimize parking in the new buildings and restore the street grid over the site and this could be a great place to live.

  40. Posted by EH

    To be sure, that’s the only Togo’s in the city outside of the Financial District.

  41. Posted by Willow

    “I think what invented meant is he saw some black people there. Or maybe Mexicans.”
    R – Thanks for saying what I was thinking…
    People live in the big cities for diversity. Sure some of the guys who hang out at Potrero Center are shady but most are just going about their business.
    Embrace the difference or stick to shopping at places like the Whole Foods on 24th St in NV where there’s not a single non threatening person to be found…

  42. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “I think what invented meant is he saw some black people there.”
    I am honestly dismayed at the things that come out of the “I don’t know what happens south of California Street, but I’m going to talk about it anyway” set on here from time to time. As if that poster would know a San Francisco gangster if he/she saw one. Good grief.

  43. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    It never fails when the subject of bicyclists comes up someone will start pointing fingers at the renegade set who run lights, pass on the right, whizz past pedestrians at close range, and other such buffoonery. And then the same brush is used to paint everyone on two wheels.
    The “good” cyclists don’t have much influence on the “bad” ones. It is unreasonable to expect that the bad bikers will clean up their behavior without some serious incentive like getting slapped with moving violation tickets. (Getting slapped with moving something else is already a hazard for these bozos). Most serious cyclists don’t appreciate those dangerous idiots either. Just about every cycling advocacy organization supports increased policing of that bad behavior. Many advocacy groups subsidize bicyclist training (i.e. the LAB “Road 1” class) too but that often is just teaching to the choir.
    AT – your right turn strategy is literally the textbook example of how it should be done: merge your car into the bike lane to preclude anyone from passing on the right. Every once and a while some ignorant cyclist will get angry that you’re “blocking the bike lane” but rest assured you’re doing the right thing.
    hipster – I hope you’re not serious about that aggressive tailgating. That’s the equivalent of pointing a loaded gun at someone. Do it to me and I’ll report to the police. The police won’t take immediate action but at least the license plate and description of the driver is recorded. If you collide with a bicyclist in the future an investigation might uncover that past aggressive tailgating incident.
    And why was the cyclist in the middle of the lane? Give us some more info. There’s about a dozen different situations that would cause a cyclist to take the lane for safety. In the city the most common reason is a combination of narrow lanes and parallel parking. Cyclists need to ride far to the left of parked cars to avoid the “door zone”. Often that places the cyclist in the center of the lane.

  44. Posted by tipster

    I’ve found people in SF to be generally rude, selfish and insensitive. The rudeness of bikers is just easier to spot. “Are you making a right turn? Could I easily move out of the way? Yes, but f-you, i’ll stay right here.”
    I always stop at lights with plenty of room to allow others to make right turns. I never pass a car on the right at an intersection. I rarely see anyone doing the same in SF. When I get out of SF, it’s much more common.
    That’s life in the big city: pretty much everyone looks out for themselves.

  45. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “I rarely see anyone doing the same in SF.”
    Do you cycle in the Mission/Lower Haight/Panhandle areas? The “Wiggle” areas? Because that behavior is beyond commonplace in those areas. It is the norm. And f you say it is not, you’re not being honest.

  46. Posted by lol

    The Wiggle is a good example of some of the younger cyclist’s behavior indeed. Last week I was cycling on the right hand lane counter the wiggle commute, green light, coming downhill at a decent clip. Sure enough a Wiggle commuter was riding on the left lane for an easier cut into traffic to go left. “Where am I supposed to go?”, I shouted to the guy as I squeezed both brakes. Not that I expected any kind of response…

  47. Posted by Rick

    “This is the old SF Auto Center and Toyota dealership, I believe. If you want dated, the old Lilli Ann factory was a few blocks up on 16th and Harrison.”
    And for those who really yearn for nostalgic memories, the site was home to a White Front department store before that.

  48. Posted by sonofsoma

    I just hope as part of this project, The City has the common sense to require restoration of 15th st. that passes through the site.
    Restoring that block is KEY to remedy the mismash of street grids, railroad r-o-w’s and 101-freeway, that are largely responsible for turning the area into no-mans-land, of sorts..
    Reconnecting streets: Extending 15th and 14th/alameda as a “corridor” east to 7th. (mission bay) Along with finishing 8th st. so it extends to 16th st. would solve much of the problem.

  49. Posted by sparky-b

    That is a really bad idea to something that isn’t a problem. Restoration of 15th street would cut out 1/2 of the safeway, the 24 hour fitness and the Office Depot. All so you could go from Potrero to the sports basement and no further. Unless you then also plan on taking out the SPCA on the next block.
    7th street? 15th street east until 7th? That is not even the same area really.
    8th street would be clipping the corner off of this.
    http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2010/06/living_at_801_brannan_and_one_henry_adams_as_proposed.html

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