October 8, 2012

Razing The Roof Over The Old Francisco Street Reservoir

Francisco Reservoir 10/2012 (www.SocketSite.com)

In early 2008, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission floated the idea of selling off the Francisco Reservoir to developers with hopes of getting as much as $50 million for the site which has sat unused for 71 years, an idea which was quickly sunk by neighborhood and local Supervisor opposition, not to mention a market turnabout at the end of 2008.

As we originally reported earlier this year, "while San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution reaffirming the reservoir’s status as open space, the resolution was non-binding, the site remains undeveloped and in disrepair, and the market for developable property is picking up."

While the wooden roof of the reservoir was razed last week, most likely to reduce the rotting hazard, the site remains in the possession of the SFPUC and no plans for the site, as open space or otherwise, are actively in the works as far as we know.

San Francisco's Planning Department once deemed the Market Street Safeway site "the single largest opportunity site [for redevelopment] outside of the Central Freeway parcels" in the Market-Octavia Neighborhood. The Francisco Street Reservior site is arguably the equivalent for Russian Hill.

San Francisco's Francisco Street Reservoir

Open Space Or Condos For The Francisco Reservoir? [SocketSite]
The SocketSite Scoop: Francisco Street Reservoir On The Market [SocketSite]
Planning's Conceptual Strategy For The Market Street Safeway Site [SocketSite]

First Published: October 8, 2012 11:15 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

A nice dog park would be great!

Posted by: Marina Boy at October 8, 2012 11:34 AM

Continue Francisco Street to Hyde and build more large scale homes. It will help with the tax revenue for the city!

Posted by: More Homes at October 8, 2012 11:38 AM

Development should be delayed until the city is prepared to deal with this land in a way respectful of the neighbors and the neighborhood. The usual rules need to be suspended.

The views of the buildings uphill need to be preserved, regardless of the argument that views are not protected.

Anything built here should have plenty of parking. If it does not have parking it should not be built. There are far too many cars chasing the few street spaces already. "Transit first" makes no sense if the city wants to get the maximum value for the land.

Finally, this is the most important and largest empty parcel of land in the northern part of San Francisco. Only great architects need apply. Whatever is built will be there for a century or more.

In short, if it cannot be done right, a park is better.

Posted by: conifer at October 8, 2012 11:44 AM

If the NIMBYs want to keep that site as open space, there should be a special neighborhood assessment zone to cover the City's foregone tax revenue. I'm sure nobody would mind.

Posted by: Philip at October 8, 2012 11:46 AM

"The views of the buildings uphill need to be preserved, regardless of the argument that views are not protected."

Why?

Posted by: NJ at October 8, 2012 11:49 AM

LOL at conifer's absurd post. The city should determine what the zoning should be and then sell the land to the highest bidder, period. None of the BS requiring fancy buildings or special treatment of the buildings above.

Posted by: anon at October 8, 2012 12:11 PM

Im sure the rich residents with views can put together a ballot proposition to stop any development to the site. Good luck seeing anything here in our lifetimes.

Posted by: JD at October 8, 2012 12:32 PM

Sell it for development, give the deal to the group that pays off all the right people. Send the money down the black hole to keep paying those bloated 300k government pensions and salaries. Make it as muddled and corrupt as possible - add on a homeless shelter, maybe a marijuana dispensary too.

Posted by: unwarrantedinlaw at October 8, 2012 12:41 PM

Develop it. Connect Francisco to Hyde.
The green patch on Bay is enough (and even that isn't used). Leaving that green would be pure politic.
Hold an international competition, allow several architects to build -- and infuse the staid area with some interesting and new urban energy.

Posted by: Invented at October 8, 2012 12:47 PM

The perfect location for transitional housing for the homeless.

Posted by: Dan at October 8, 2012 12:48 PM

I agree with anon. Sell to the highest bidder. If the uphill neighbors are so concerned with their views they are welcome to outbid the developers. Personally I think the land should be developed but it will certainly be an uphill battle against NIMBY opposition. Also I am not sure why this needs to be a park when there is an already existing park next to it.

Posted by: GL at October 8, 2012 12:51 PM

Parklettes are all the rage. Surely this place could hold a couple hundred!

Posted by: BobN at October 8, 2012 12:55 PM

Furthermore, there's another park encompassing an entire city block only a block and a half away just to the south.

Posted by: GL at October 8, 2012 1:00 PM

+Develop it. Houses or hotel. There's plenty of parks already in this neighborhood.

Posted by: DanRH at October 8, 2012 1:08 PM

The city should determine what the zoning should be and then sell the land to the highest bidder, period.

Perfect idea. That's why we have zoning. It is so tiring when everyone what to have a say on every development.

Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at October 8, 2012 1:32 PM

I'd like to see this developed, but I can't imagine the neighborhood won't forestall any potential construction. Most developers don't have the stomach or lifespan to deal with vacant lot that will be massively taxed without a guarantee that anything will be built ever. Look at the pointless sh*tstorm over the "Wall on the Waterfront" (*shudder*). That said, provided the new development doesn't "block views" and it contains the requisite amount of "affordable housing" either on or off-site, Planning would likely approve it.

I'd like to see a luxury hotel/spa with condos... Now, let me stop choking on my own laughter.

Posted by: Denis at October 8, 2012 2:18 PM

I know I am in the minority in that I actually agree with what Conifer wrote, even if it was meant to be a joke.

Posted by: PartyOf1 at October 8, 2012 2:25 PM

So the City can get $50M or $350M or whatever...the progressives will merely give it to the non-profit industry and the only thing we will have to show for it is another 2,500 street people coming into the city for freebies!!

Posted by: Entitle This at October 8, 2012 2:57 PM

I have walked that block of Hyde enough to know it is a very steep site.

You could cover it with density equal to the blocks on the east side of Hyde and nothing would be higher than the already blank retaining walls at the base of the Chestnut Street towers.

If we allow them to gain height as they move north towards Bay, essentially letting the average slope of the roofs be softer than the actual grade, you could probably rise to 6+ floors facing the exsiting park on a new Francisco continuation without affecting the bay views from Chestnut Street.

Posted by: redseca2 at October 8, 2012 3:03 PM

Our most prominent billionaire could purchase it and build a nice elegant mansion there with tons of space and even an olympic swimming pool. 50M + development costs would barely dent his fortune and he would possess the most desirable property in CA. A bit too late to see the race though.

Posted by: lol at October 8, 2012 3:08 PM

To maximize the value would probably mean apartment towers. But we all know that would be held up in the permit process for years and years. I agree with the previous comments - and wrote it here a long time ago - that Francisco should be extended to Hyde.
Break it into separate lots and let it simply be an extension of the types of houses that are on both sides of Francisco already. Or it could be a tasteful low-rise like Telegraph Terrace, which also has the feel of being separate houses. That might have a possibility of getting through the permit process.

Posted by: jlasf at October 8, 2012 3:32 PM

Build some mid-rise to high rise luxury housing.

Posted by: futurist at October 8, 2012 5:51 PM

Get our said billionaire to fund a new sailing museum, dedicated to America's Cup style catamarans, and hire Enzo Piano to design it. Now that would be something to love.

Posted by: Oceangoer at October 8, 2012 6:47 PM

LOL Entitle, so the poor should feel bad for taking advantage of those imaginary services, but the rich should be given the right to have the city maintain their unprotected views for free? Talk about giveaways!

Posted by: EH at October 8, 2012 6:48 PM

This land is zoned public open space. It should, therefore, be accessible to the public as open space - a park! Development would be a waste as it only serves a few but a park would serve millions.

Posted by: 2of3jays at October 8, 2012 10:08 PM

^The land is zoned "reservoir", not open space. A park would be a waste of space here.

Build several hundred million dollars worth of housing here, and devote the taxes collected from the land to a special fund for upkeep of other city parks (in perpetuity). Why can't we have a well-kept Golden Gate Park, for example, rather than another worthless park for a few rich people to look out over from their towers?

Posted by: anon at October 8, 2012 11:48 PM

Just build several multi million dollar SFRs. That should piss off everyone equally. Plus this city needs some more new SFRs.

Posted by: anun at October 9, 2012 9:38 AM

It's Renzo Piano.

Posted by: futurist at October 9, 2012 1:13 PM

I don't care whose piano it is. This is the perfect place for another Target.

Posted by: Kurt Brown at October 9, 2012 8:59 PM

I think that this area would be best served to mix in two different types of structures. I also agree that there should simply be an extension of Francisco, plus maybe another side street running north and south. But the two different types of structures in my perfect world would be multi unit buildings and SFR lots. Subtle, I know, but it will look like the rest of the city but new character. A friend suggested using low square footage units, high end, cutting edge aesthetics and technology. I like that idea for the multi-family buildings, but I want to see the large SFR lots also to maintain property value and consistency. What a wonderful location. Sheesh!

Posted by: jeff schlarb at October 9, 2012 9:32 PM

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