May 30, 2012

From Renderings To Reality (So To Speak) At 2299 Market Street

Originally rendered with an Apple store below, then re-rendered with simply STORE, it’s a plugged-in tipster that notes Bank of the West has filed an application to occupy fill the ground floor commercial space of 2299 Market Street, the five story building that's finally filling the Castro's decades-old Hole in the Ground.

2299 Market Street Site (www.SocketSite.com)

Designs For The Castro’s "Hole In The Ground" (2299 Market Street) [SocketSite]
2299 Market As Proposed, Opposed, And Recommended By Planning [SocketSite]
Formulating Controls To Chase Financial Services Away [SocketSite]
Construction Commences On The Decades-Old "Hole In The Ground" [SocketSite]

First Published: May 30, 2012 7:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Why is every new multi-unit building built in SF look like this? I can't tell them apart anymore. They all look alike.

Posted by: Ben at May 30, 2012 8:51 AM

Yes, they all look the same, so boring. Square bay windows with off-center placement of the window frames, etc. Are there no new ideas in design?

Posted by: snark17 at May 30, 2012 9:08 AM

A bank? Seriously? Banks are like dead spots in commercial districts--just look at the horrendous, suburban-style montrosity that Chase (though really WaMu) built a block up at Market and Sanchez. What a disappointment for a spot with so much potential.

Posted by: Jason at May 30, 2012 9:37 AM

Can anyone shed some light on why banks seem to be opening up so many branches in these new developments? Is there really that much demand or is it some sort of strategic play?

Posted by: asdf at May 30, 2012 9:46 AM

snark17, no, there are no new ideas in design once the built environment "in crowd" has decided that modernism represents the "end of history" when it comes to multi-family residential.

I agree it's boring and bland and interchangeable with practically every other recent building. I'm pessimistic for the chances of improvement in my lifetime.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at May 30, 2012 9:52 AM

We could have a Trader Joe's at one of these projects but the neighbors would rather have a vacant building (i.e. the old Tower Records) or a bank or a nail salon. They're looking for stores that won't attract a lot of business and cars. That way it won't ruin their bucolic lifestyle. But I'm not bitter.

Posted by: 94114 at May 30, 2012 10:02 AM

I like everything else that is going on in terms of new construction on Upper Market, but this one is butt ugly.

Posted by: Mike at May 30, 2012 10:04 AM

I think of it as an "architecture virus" that first started in Mission Bay, and is starting to spread thoughout. The virus is trying to make everywhere look exactly like Mission Bay. Hope they find a vaccine for it some day.

I also wonder about the need for so many branches. Do many people actually go into banks these days? I suppose merchants need to get and deposit cash.

Posted by: p3p at May 30, 2012 10:05 AM

The original design was much better than the approved design. Unfortunately, we're stuck with the watered down version. Just another day and project in SF.

Posted by: gellan at May 30, 2012 10:17 AM

Count me as another person wondering why Banks can so easily do new branches...

Posted by: DanRH at May 30, 2012 10:18 AM

Why so harsh on banks? Banks have to compete for business. As part of their marketing strategy, they open branches to get the business of residents and merchants and provide need financial service transactions that can't be done over the Internet. Through the Community Reinvestment Act, they also sponsor programs that benefit the community, such as after school programs.

Posted by: Patrick at May 30, 2012 11:34 AM

Just for the record, my comments were not intended to be "harsh on banks", I just wondered how their business model supported so many branches, as I would think that many customers never need to go there any more (in fact many account types now penalize them if they do). Therefore, it wasn't clear that the expense of maintaining and staffing so many branches paid off. But maybe it does. Maybe just the publicity of a physical presence is worth it. Just wondering.

Posted by: p3p at May 30, 2012 11:59 AM

The Castro is nothing but a corporate Disneyland anyway, so a bank will fit right in.

Posted by: sf at May 30, 2012 1:43 PM

I'd guess it's a strategy for banks to appear more "main street" than "wall street" -- so they can claim they're our neighbors in the community and whatnot. But I don't understand the angst about all the new construction looking the same. That's always been true. It's why we can talk about stylistic periods. The vocabulary now is modular blocks. It beats postmodernism, IMO. In another 20 years it'll be something else.

Posted by: James at May 30, 2012 2:03 PM

Bleh...

I live around the corner, and a bank is lame. I have nothing a bank branch, but I was hoping for something more exciting. Still better than a hole in the ground.

The killing of TJs at the old Tower Records space, was just another fine example of NIMBY-ism that some people in this city strive for. I'm sure they will be happy with a bland, no need for parking, generic bank in this space.

Posted by: wc1 at May 30, 2012 3:05 PM

p3p, my comment was directed at Jason, not yours. Sorry if that wasn't clear. As for bank branching, they seem to go through phases of opening and closing branches as they expand and then merge. There were BofA branches at Market and Castro and 14th and Church that became a Diesel store and a Blockbuster, respectively after BofA bought Security Pacific Bank, which had a branch at 18th and Castro, which was in turn a Hibernia Bank branch before Hibernia went into Security Pacific. The gym at Market and Noe was a Crocker Bank branch that closed after the Wells Fargo merger. Now a new batch of banks like JPM Chase and Bank of the West are expanding into the neighborhood.

Posted by: Patrick at May 30, 2012 5:29 PM

"A bank? Seriously? Banks are like dead spots in commercial districts--just look at the horrendous, suburban-style montrosity that Chase (though really WaMu) built a block up at Market and Sanchez. What a disappointment for a spot with so much potential."

Just to clarify, Chase (formerly WaMu) didn't "build" that bank on Market and Sanchez. It was a remodel of a DuLux paint store, which sat vacant for nearly a year. So while it wasn't the best use, IMNSHO, it was a pretty good re-purpose of an originally quite crappy building and much worse retail fit for the hood.

So yes, in theory, the site had "potential" but in this city, if you're going to knock down and start over, you're going to end up in planning dept and NIMBY hell vs a straight up remodel that doesn't change the building envelope at all.

Posted by: Kurt Brown at May 30, 2012 9:07 PM

The Dulux paint store/Chase location didn't sit vacant for any time at all. The paint store stayed until the very last day or their lease (they didn't want to leave), and construction on the Chase renovations started almost immediately afterwards (maybe a month or so delay for permits and the like, but I don't even think it was that long.) The work took many months, during which time there was obviously no business there, but that doesn't qualify as "sat vacant.")

On the 2299 Market property, the neighborhood associations are working with the developer to try to limit the size, and, just as importantly, street frontage of the proposed bank branch. They seem to share the concerns about banks not contributing to retail vitality or pedestrian traffic. From what I understand, they're hoping for a significantly smaller branch than is proposed, but also want to limit the frontage and signage so that even if it's a big space, the building doesn't become a billboard for the bank and other commercial tenant(s) in the building have at least as much street exposure.

Posted by: Dubocian at May 30, 2012 11:15 PM

More on the Dulux paint store. Although Kurt Brown thinks it wasn't a great use for the neighborhood, I personally found myself wandering in their many times when I lived in the hood. Although more oriented towards "the trade" it was a great resource when you were doing a little touch up around the house. Cliff's is great, but certainly not as comprehensive. I'd miss it, but now I have the even better Benjamin Moore on 24th Street as my local paint store..

But what i really wanted to point out that there was a proposal for a TJ's at that site, as well, which would have replaced the ridiculous suburban style building with a full lot footprint building, with roof parking. The neighbors shot it down (just as they shot down the Tower Record site). Granted, it would have resulted in some problematic traffic queuing at the Market/15th/Sanchez intersection (love those six ways in the Castro!), so I'm not entirely sure the decision was wrong. However, the aftermath was that it resulted in the politically (and permit-wise) easier reuse of the existing building. So what we end up with is a hideous bank parking lot fronting a site which should have a much denser more pedestrian oriented use.

PS, can the neighborhood organizations actually influence the retail component of the project at this point, or are they just pretending? Is it via the conditional use permit for chains? (we won't oppose a bank it you'll do X?)

Posted by: curmudgeon at May 31, 2012 9:30 AM

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