February 12, 2013

The Designs For Mission Bay Block 40 On The Border Of Potrero Hill

Mission%20Bay%20Block%2040.jpg

The undeveloped Mission Bay Block 40 sits in the southwest corner of the Mission Bay Redevelopment Area, south of 16th Street and east of Interstate 280 on the border of Potrero Hill. And upon Block 40, a 995,000 square foot office complex composed of two "campuses" is proposed to rise (click any of the renderings to enlarge).

Each campus would feature a 5-story building connected to a 12-story, rising up to 180 feet. 680 parking spaces would be provided in two 5-story parking garages. The western facades of the buildings and open spaces facing Interstate 280 have been designed so that if Interstate 280 is razed, the area could be repurposed as public open space:

With the exception of one member, The Mission Bay Citizens Advisory Committee supports the proposed project while The Potrero Boosters have not been as enthusiastic and would like to see "less large block sites and more diversity in building types and design."

San Francisco’s Planning Department recommends that San Francisco's Planning Commission approve the designs and development this week.

A Bold Plan To Tear Down I-280 North Of 16th Street In San Francisco [SocketSite]
Mission Bay Neighborhood Block And Construction Watch [SocketSite]

First Published: February 12, 2013 11:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

This whole area still feels like a collection of buildings, rather than a neighborhood. I wonder if more buildings will ever make it come alive.

Posted by: jlasf at February 12, 2013 12:06 PM

Pedestrian crosswalks are desperately needed on the 16th St/under-280 corner of this lot. People are constantly j-walking there, and it's a complex knot of railroad tracks, intersections and bike lanes. Only a matter of time before accidents and ensuing law suits happen.

Posted by: Schlub at February 12, 2013 12:15 PM

One of Willie Brown's legacies: the Mission Bay Office Park. Such a shame.

Posted by: Steve at February 12, 2013 12:32 PM

"If Interstate 280 is razed" it would be north of 16th St. or are people already betting on scope creep? According to those plans this block of the freeway would become a ramp and would be the worst and noisiest place to live as southbound cars and trucks would be accelerating uphill from the new surface boulevard to the elevated freeway. That is, of course, unless they lower the 280 after the Caltrain tracks are taken out and either dead-end Mariposa St. or turn it into an overpass.

Either way, that's a lot of unknowns to be investing in.

Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at February 12, 2013 12:49 PM

It's too bad more potential wasn't pulled out of Mission Bay, but what it is--a neighborhood of mostly boring, large midrise buildings with a sprinkling of short highrises--is still better than the trainyard/warehouses/brownfields that it used to be. This proposal seems like it will be a nice enough addition, and I'm happy to see that it includes a couple highrises.

Posted by: cbf at February 12, 2013 12:55 PM

MB desperately needs a sense of place and a center -- there is none. It feels vacant even as there is development. The fourth street retail concept is its only saving hope and it needs to be bold yet fine grained in scale, and not a series of chains. (a la at the ballpark). Unclear if these are residential or commercial buildings, or a mix.

[Editor's Note: As written above, it's "a 995,000 square foot office complex" that's proposed (i.e., all commercial).]

Posted by: Invented at February 12, 2013 1:07 PM

Invented is correct: MB is void of anything resembling a neighborhood. It's an office park wasting prime urban redevelopment land. Who would want to live there? You have to drive elsewhere for food, shopping, entertainment.

Highrises? These aren't highrises by any stretch of the imagination, unless you're from Fargo, ND.

Posted by: Mark at February 12, 2013 1:28 PM

MB is pretty dead... but it does appear as tho the development of the area seems dependent on what the SFgiants proposed a while back and currently working on. I do beleive that they are proposing a lot of retail, restaurants and other such neccesaties. At least that is my take on the situation. With those additions I think MB would feel less like an office park and more like a neighborhood.

Posted by: ig1975 at February 12, 2013 1:58 PM

Take lessons from other thriving neighborhoods in town, like the Marina, Cow Hollow, Russian Hill, North Beach, Castro, Hayes Valley, etc. Note that in each case you're talking about a block consisting of a network of buildings offering a variety of services (housing, dining, retail, services), rather than a single, sterile complex that can either be inviting or not. If it's the latter then people move on to the next block, not next building.

Posted by: Mark at February 12, 2013 2:27 PM

This whole area still feels like a collection of buildings, rather than a neighborhood. I wonder if more buildings will ever make it come alive.

Certainly not as long as every new building is accompanied by five story parking garages. I understand the more unique need for above ground parking in the area, but it seems like every other block is a streetlife killing deadspace in the form of a gigantic garage. Could we not have at least just made these 8 story buildings with parking on the top four floors or something?

Posted by: anon at February 12, 2013 2:29 PM

We bike around there a lot (we live on PH). There is lots to like. I think driving through doesn't capture it. There is a lot of public art, great bay access and views, some nice (small) parks and green ways.

Most of y'all are all lovey about dwell style and hating on Victorian. I'm surprised you find so little to like here. I am not a mid-century mod / dwell fan and I think this area is developing nicely.

Posted by: dissent at February 12, 2013 2:39 PM

Office space and a Research Hospital arent going to recreate the next castro, north beach or marina, but are definitely great assets for the city to have. Does the area compare positively to parnassus heights and fidi, sure. Is it a haven for nightlife and boutique coffeeshops, no, but it wasn't designed to be.

Posted by: frshmn at February 12, 2013 2:56 PM

I would have preferred skinny residential high-rises, though those may still be in the cards for other blocks.

Just not sure what the demand is for office space in Mission Bay. The biggest of companies are going to be in fidi. Startups have mostly shied away from Mission Bay, preferring SOMA. Unless they have many anchor tenants signed up, this seems like a poor investment.

Otherwise, I'm fine with it. More stylish buildings would have been preferable

Posted by: guest at February 12, 2013 3:06 PM

I think MB suffers from lot sizes that are all too large and uniform. If they had broken it up into a finer grain, or at least included a variety of lot sizes (some small and some larger) it would have helped the built environment tremendously.

However, I keep telling myself it's a work in progress. Most of the residential hasn't been built yet. That will help activate the neighborhood. The central focal point could end up being the Commons, which isn't even half completed yet. And as lg1975 mentioned, the Giants' Mission Rock development promises to provide many of the services and attractions that could make it one of the city's destinations.

I know there are a lot of could's and maybe-type statements in there, but I still hold out hope that it may (there I go again) become a good neighborhood despite the largely disappointing results so far.

Posted by: Turin at February 12, 2013 3:34 PM

"Office space and a Research Hospital arent going to recreate the next castro, north beach or marina, but are definitely great assets for the city to have. Does the area compare positively to parnassus heights and fidi, sure. Is it a haven for nightlife and boutique coffeeshops, no, but it wasn't designed to be."

And that's what precisely wrong with it. Let's just roll up the streets at 6pm after everyone drives home. Your view is ridiculous.

Posted by: Mark at February 12, 2013 3:37 PM

OK, at first I didn't catch the part about it being all-office. It makes sense, since living that close to the freeway would really suck.

I don't think they will have trouble finding tenants - biotech firms will want to be close to the UCSF campus and hospital.

I don't think Mission Bay needs to be a neighborhood. I'd rather see more retail and dining in Potrero Hill and Dogpatch with the added business of nearby MB residents. 18th Street is maybe the most charming "main street" in SF, but it could use a few more businesses.

Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at February 12, 2013 3:48 PM

"Highrises? These aren't highrises by any stretch of the imagination, unless you're from Fargo, ND." -Mark

180 foot buildings are most definitely highrises, according to the vast majority of definitions out there. Are they tall highrises, or skyscrapers? No. Are they short highrises? Yes.

Anyways, I agree that residential highrises would be more appropriate.

Posted by: cbf at February 12, 2013 4:18 PM

They are building some residential towers just west of 280 at 16th and a bit south of 16th where they are removing some warehouses. Also, I believe Kaiser is planning on building a medical building just south of the residential towers on 16th.

These planned buildings will probably end up with lots of medically related offices associated with the two hospitals that sandwich them.

Posted by: gribble at February 12, 2013 5:47 PM

Whenever anyone on this blog opens their online mouth and starts mouthing planning speak, I throw up on a parking meter and render it defective. I just thought you should know that, SFMTA.

Oops!

I almost forgot I have a new "SF-friendly" online persona.

Yay & totes let's fix Mission Bay by adding crosswalks and more bike racks 'cause that's what's missing there!

Also, can we just like add signs with buzzwords? Like a huge sign that says "network of buildings offering a variety of services?"

Ahhh, I'm home!

Posted by: Bi-Cyclist at February 12, 2013 8:49 PM

I just wonder about all of these plans being contradictory or somewhat hasty. Like the S-curve (...) that would be needed for a surface extension of 280 to go around that apartment complex to meet back up with King Street. Sure would be nice if that was not a problem to worry about. Or building on top of space that will certainly be needed as staging ground for the infrastructure projects of tomorrow. There is a certain economic sense in preventing development for a time, or even years, if it means saving more money and time down the road.

Posted by: Adam at February 12, 2013 9:00 PM

@steve, im pretty sure i280 would touch down at mariposa, so this lot would be like the blue building at king and 5th.

Posted by: Hugo at February 12, 2013 9:13 PM

The architecture of these buildings looks strong and high quality, but there is just a lot of it! But I think people who are generally critical of Mission Bay haven't spent time there. The park along the creek is downright magical at dusk, with all the kids and seniors and beautiful light. the UCSF Community Center is one of the coolest new buildings in SF. Come on the weekends and swim on the roof. Or launch your kayak in Mission Creek. There is a lot to discover when you're on foot or bike or boat. You'll see. Oh, and it's barely half built and the retail spine - 4th Street - has barely begun contruction. I think Mission Bay should have put more thought into interim uses that could activate spaces and provide a sense of place until things are more built out. the retail is coming so late, that it's easy to be critical.

Posted by: resident at February 12, 2013 10:33 PM

Also remember that this site is directly across the street from a very large institutional use -- the new UCSF medical center. The size makes more sense in that context. The medical center and the kind of biotechnology uses that this building can house are crucial to SF"s economy and need to go somewhere. Tucked against the freeway and next to a hospital seems like a good spot.

Posted by: Sam at February 12, 2013 10:38 PM

Retail is not viable until the full scope of residential and commercial office space is built. They need a significant presence of people day/night, weekday/weekends to attract retail businesses. It is just a matter of time, but they will come.

The office space will be absorbed primarily by biotech and medical offices. Once the hospital is completed you will see office space in this area absorbed quickly.

Developing a plot of land this size takes time and to see the full vision come to fruition will take time as well. Patience is a virtue and I think in 5-10 years when all is said and done, you will have a vibrant neighborhood. Madrone sold it very quickly and I think the other residential buildings coming on line will also be popular. MB isn't going to be like the Marina, Castro or any other neighborhood established 100+ years ago. It is a new, unique neighborhood combining commercial, retail and residential.

Posted by: Karl at February 13, 2013 8:16 AM

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