August 15, 2012
San Francisco's Market Street Masonry Discontiguous District
Composed of eight buildings between Franklin and Valencia Streets, the "Market Street Masonry Discontiguous District" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But if you’d like to roll around the district, there is a self-guided walking tour of the eight buildings which are being considering for Landmark designations.
For each building, the architects utilized a formal three-part arrangement consisting of a base (often with a commercial storefront), main portion or column (often with residential floors), and decorative top with either a projecting cornice or decorative parapet. Projecting bay windows visually reinforce the vertical emphasis, while increasing the light and air into the interior of many of the buildings.
All of the buildings are well-preserved examples and retain character-defining features, such as elaborate cornices, pattern brickwork, and unaltered historic storefronts with their glass transom lights, bronze plate glass window frames and decorative bases.
Each of the eight buildings were constructed between 1911 and 1925, commonly known as the Reconstruction Period, and "relate to each other as a group because of the period in which they were constructed, their high-style design, and fire-proof masonry construction."
The addresses and brief overview for the potentially landmarked eight:
1. 150 Franklin Street is located on a 120’ x 50’ through lot on the southeast corner of Franklin and Fell Streets. Built in 1912, 150 Franklin Street is a 5-story, concrete frame and brick apartment building, designed in the Classical Revival style.
2. 20 Franklin Street, AKA 1580-1598 Market Street is located on an irregular 97’ x 100’ lot at the northeast corner of Market and Franklin Streets. Built in 1917, 1580-1598 Market Street is a six-story, steel-frame, apartment and commercial building designed in the Classical Revival style.
3. 1649-1651 Market Street is located on a 124’x56’ lot at the southwest corner of Market and Brady Streets. Built in 1912, 1649-1651 Market Street is a five-story reinforced concrete frame apartment and commercial building designed in the Classical Revival style.
4. 1657 Market Street is located on a 25’x124’ lot on the south side of Market Street, between Brady and Gough Streets, with a rear elevation facing Stevenson Street. Built in 1911, 1657 Market Street is a five-story, reinforced concrete and timber-frame residential hotel with ground floor retail designed in the Venetian Revival style.
5. 1666-1668 Market Street is located on an irregular 27.5’x86’ through lot on the north side of Market Street, between Gough and Rose Streets. Built in 1913, 1666-1668 Market Street is a five-story, concrete-frame residential hotel with a commercial ground floor designed in the Colonial Revival style.
6. 1670-1680 Market Street is located on an irregular 55’x120’ through lot on the north side of Market Street, between Gough and Rose Streets. Built in 1923, the Gaffney Building is a six-story, reinforced concrete, steel frame, apartment and commercial building designed in the Renaissance Revival style.
7. 1687 Market Street is located on an irregular 45’ x 124’ through lot to Stevenson Street at the southwest corner of Market and Gough Streets. Built in 1925, the Edward McRoskey Mattress Factory Co. building is a two-story plus mezzanine, concrete frame, commercial building designed in the Classical Revival style.
8. 1693-1695 Market Street is located on an irregular 34’ x 124’ through lot to Stevenson Street, on the south side of Market Street between Gough and Valencia Streets. Constructed in 1914, 1693-1695 Market Street is a five-story, concrete-frame, residential hotel and commercial building designed in the Renaissance Revival style.
And with respect to the purpose and impact of landmarking the buildings:
The purpose of individual Landmark and local Landmark District designation is to recognize the historical and architectural significance of buildings, structures.
A second process, the National Register Certification of the local Landmark District, will qualify the buildings for additional Federal preservation incentives. These incentives include façade easements and Federal Tax Credits.
Lastly, the official commitment of a Landmark District designation ensures that historic properties are not negatively affected by future development in the neighborhood.
∙ Market Street Masonry (Proposed) Landmark District [sfplanning.org]
∙ Market Street Masonry Discontiguous District Self-Guided Walking Tour [sfplanning.org]
First Published: August 15, 2012 9:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
These are decent buildings. But are we just making this a laughing joke for east coast city denizens? Besides eight buildings do not make a district. Please do no overly inflate the idea.
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at August 15, 2012 10:36 AM
And aren't these unreinforced masonry buildings? If so they are a major seismic hazard.
Posted by: futurist at August 15, 2012 10:56 AM
Would bldg #2, if approved, kill of the mega project talked about for the northwest corner of Van Ness and Market?
Posted by: question at August 15, 2012 11:28 AM
Posted by: apropos at August 15, 2012 11:50 AM
Wai Yip Tung: when developers want to build a new, ugly modernist building in this city, and want to get a variance from the prevailing zoning, they routinely propose and get so-called "overlay districts" created that consist of exactly one building.
So an eight building district shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 15, 2012 12:06 PM
News to me. Is there a list of interesting "districts" in San Francisco we should know about?
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at August 15, 2012 12:55 PM
Don't know what planning would call their comprehensive list, but according to their web site (planning's site, that is), there are maps "published online by American Legal, the City's code publisher".
On the topic of the post, I'm happy to see the above buildings being considering for landmark designations, but I won't hold my breath.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 15, 2012 1:45 PM
Why don't we just declare the entire city a landmark and get on with it. The goal here is to prevent development so we really should just call SF a museum of twentieth century urban cities and move on to better things.
Posted by: Joe at August 15, 2012 1:55 PM
I don't know what people who say things like "The goal of [preserving historic/landmark buildings] is to prevent development" are thinking. The City is approving more "development", and has been for the last two or three years, than can be successfully financed and started.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 15, 2012 2:19 PM
^Um, that's because so much of the city (both land and air rights) are off limits to development, driving the cost of land of any area approved for development up to exactly the breaking point where it's right on the edge of being financially feasible.
If we opened the entire city up for development of 1000', no restrictions, you can be guaranteed that many places would become financially feasible to develop (not that I'm saying that that would be an entirely good thing).
Posted by: anon at August 15, 2012 3:21 PM
anon, don't forget that there are significant projects where developers already control the land in question, have had their project approved and still can't locate financing necessary to proceed. That's the marketplace at work (or not at work as the case may be) and has nothing to do with The City's zoning or other policies so often decried on socketsite.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 15, 2012 5:18 PM
Those projects are? The only ones that I'm aware of are owned by developers that are pretty shaky financing risks due to overextending on land purchases and still holding massive loans on their books.
Posted by: anon at August 15, 2012 5:42 PM
v whatever the next person says. Aren't we all clever?
We have the most passive/agressive fools posing as planers of any city I have ever known.
I agree with myself on ^ comment.
Posted by: Stucco_Sux at August 15, 2012 10:00 PM
From the Planning Dept.'s 2011 Housing Inventory report, pg 02 (pg. 10 of the .pdf file):
•In 2011, 1,625 new condominiums were recorded — a 121% increase over 2010. Some 89% of those units were in buildings with 20 units or more.Emphasis added.
Doesn't sound to me like development is being "prevented". What constitutes "prevention", anyway? From the same document, pg. 05 (pg. 13 of the .pdf file):
• In 2011, the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) authorized 1,998 units for construction according to building permit data. That number represents 61% over permits authorized in 2009 (752).Emphasis added. Doesn't seem to me that there's something untoward holding back on approving new development by The City.
Tip of the hat to the socketsite editor for the above link, from the post San Francisco’s Total Housing Inventory And Pipeline Report.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 15, 2012 10:23 PM
What does this tell me? That for years SF has been seriously underbuilding residential. I can't believe that people are holding up figures of two thousand units! In a city of 800k+ people! That number could easily be two-4 buildings in rincon hill alone. Yup, next stop-MANHATTAN. 2000 units is a pathetic amount of housing, particular when you take into account the amount of housing lost for various reasons in any given year. Fasten your seat belts people, SF is going full speed ahead.
Posted by: Joe at August 15, 2012 10:32 PM
Percentages don't really mean anything Brahma - that's still a pathetically small amount of housing being added - 1600 units is a less than one half of one percent increase in the total number of units in the city!!!!!!
Going from horrendous to just terrible is NOT something to talk up.
Posted by: anon at August 15, 2012 10:44 PM
the tenderloin and lower nob hill are filled with similar reconstruction structures, as i noted on my walk along post today.
what exactly does this designation do? preserve the facades? preserve the buildings interiors and infrastructure? guarantee falling bricks in the event of a big one?
i love a mix of old and new and find these buildings charming. with so much of midmarket and the castro corridor in transition and under construction i'd love to see nicer post-earthquake buildings saved but don't know what that really means. (i particularly like looking at 1657 market when drinking at zuni).
i stayed in a great modern apartment in an 700 yr old florentine building and a friend's loft style unit in a NYC postwar and i gutted my own edwardian to get modern electrical, insulation, connectivity, efficiency, and a more contemporary floor plan.
what would such a designation permit or prohibit?
Posted by: modernedwardian at August 15, 2012 11:24 PM
From "americas ten hippest cities"
9. San Francisco, CA
2011 Net Migration: 6,810 people
So tell me how 2000 units is a great amount of housing ?
Posted by: Joe at August 16, 2012 7:19 AM
too bad. the landmark thing is just an excuse for government overreach and inflated egos.
I've always loved this building. too bad govt is trying to dilute it
Posted by: johnny at August 16, 2012 7:42 AM
Joe, you're arguing against some absolute number of new units that S.F. should in your mind (or perhaps is the general consensus among the development community) be producing, but it's not clear if the number in your and anon's heads is reasonable.
San Francisco doesn't want to be Manhattan, that battle was fought and decided decades ago. Yes, I understand that the newly-arrived think that S.F. should reverse course in the name of creating more and larger profit opportunities for developers.
2000 units "is a pathetic amount of housing" compared to what? What city anywhere in the California (or the U.S. for that matter) is approving/building anywhere near the number you seem to think is the right one? I ask that sincerely; I don't know. There might be some municipality that's approving five digit increases in the absolute number of units available.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 16, 2012 11:54 AM
Yes, I understand that the newly-arrived think that S.F. should reverse course in the name of creating more and larger profit opportunities for developers.
Yes, of course that's the reason. I'm a shill for the developers, you got me. Certainly no other reason to want more housing built.
On your question of numbers, it took two seconds to see that Travis County, Texas (Austin), a county of just over a million people (so 25% larger than SF), approved over 5700 units in 2011. Source: http://censtats.census.gov/cgi-bin/bldgprmt/bldgdisp.pl
That's down quite a bit from the ~15,000 units per year they averaged prior to 2008.
I didn't bother looking up any others in the sunbelt, but it's fairly common knowledge that most fast-growing sunbelt cities approve a ton of housing per year, in spite of substantially less wealth than we have.
If you want something closer to a "pier city", Seattle, with 25% fewer residents than SF, approved 3173 units in 2011. And Seattle's a city with substantial approval bottlenecks just like SF, but still managed to get twice as many units approved on a per capita basis.
Posted by: anon at August 16, 2012 12:31 PM
Anon - thank you.
Amazing how easily this stuff is proven.
SF substantially underbuilds and has only recently started to even build housing in the four digits.
SF is full of people who really have no idea about what an urban environment of 800+k people should be building - but have a vague, provincial and sentimental notion of what SF is and should be forever. You can see this in Brahmas post. "i dont know what the number should be but i know we are building enough!"
Posted by: Joe at August 16, 2012 1:47 PM
Brahma didn't say "we are building enough", Brahma said that it appears the market place appears to be placing the majority of constraints on development right about now.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 16, 2012 4:06 PM
You have yet to offer any data to back up that claim though. You simply said that lots of developers can't get financing, without showing WHY they can't get financing or even showing how many can't get financing.
Posted by: anon at August 16, 2012 5:00 PM