Forest City’s proposed 5M Project spans a 4-acre site roughly bounded by Mission, Fifth, Howard and Mary Streets at the nexus of San Francisco’s South of Market Area (SOMA). The 5M project includes over a million square feet of office space, 750 new dwelling units, and 150,000 square feet of ground floor retail, educational, and cultural uses with five new buildings ranging in height from 50 to 400 feet (click images to enlarge):



As part of the project, the Chronicle Building at 901 Mission Street and the Dempster Printing Building at 447-449 Minna Street would both be rehabilitated while six other buildings on the site would be razed to make room for the new construction.
The square footage of renovated space and new construction would total 1.85 million square feet. In addition, the project would include up to 888 parking spaces for cars in three subterranean levels, around 270 spaces for bikes, and 34,000 square feet of privately-owned publicly accessible open space including 22,000 square feet atop the Chronicle building which would be accessible to the public during business hours and to tenants and residents between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Seven existing surface parking lots on the site with a total of approximately 256 parking spaces would meet their demise. And Mary Street between Mission and Minna Streets would be closed to vehicular traffic and converted to a pedestrian alleyway.
Public planning meetings for the project are slated to start in two weeks. Assuming all approvals by the end of next year, construction could commence as early as 2015 and be finished by 2026 with the project constructed in two phases (see massing above).
Testing The Waters To Develop Four Infill Acres At Fifth And Mission [SocketSite]
A Huge (Potential) Development For The Mid-Market/SoMa ‘Hood [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by anon

    Pretty decent overall. Parking seems a bit much – probably cut that down to a couple hundred for residents and 300 or so for the commercial space, but other than that looks good. Could go taller on the towers of course. No real reason not to.

  2. Posted by futurist

    Keep the parking as is. It WILL be used.

  3. Posted by Mark

    Of course you need the parking once MUNI moves its public transit off Mission and on to Market. After all, who in their right mind would want to walk one block from BART/MUNI.

  4. Posted by PatBurns

    Project complete in 2016 or 2026?
    [Editor's Note: 2026 as reported above.]

  5. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Keep the parking as is. It WILL be used.”
    … and that’s exactly the problem with adding excessive parking in dense locations like this. The parking itself creates a small problem of inserting “dead” space that could be put to better use and instead increases walk distances. But when the parking is actually used, it increases traffic congestion, delays trips, and increases danger.

  6. Posted by Invented

    Slightly taller (of course), more graceful towers, less bulk, smaller footprint, better pedestrian experience in such a densely packed area. Glad to see this moving forward.

  7. Posted by Sam

    But what about my favorite bar, Tempest, at Mary & Natoma?
    Looks like this won’t affect it, though there’s no chance of it surviving.
    I kid, good bar, but Ill allow this project to kill the seedy vibe there. What’s with the long construction time?

  8. Posted by futurist

    Once again, MOD: you have it all wrong. I believe you have commented other times about using parking for other uses.
    Tell us how that works when the parking is ALL below grade and windowless?
    You tried that argument a while ago on a proposed project at Market and Sanchez, citing that increased parking, where you ASSUMED it would be at grade, would take up valuable retail street frontage.
    Completely untrue.

  9. Posted by lyqwyd

    @futurist…
    you seem to have missed the point of MOD’s post:
    “But when the parking is actually used, it increases traffic congestion, delays trips, and increases danger.”

  10. Posted by futurist

    Nope, didn’t miss it all. Cause I don’t agree with it and it’s not true.
    I’m not drinking the anti-car koolaid.
    But I would like to hear how his comment about “inserting dead space” could be put to better use when the parking is below grade, or even above grade. Example: at 5th/Mission Garage, the ground floor area along Mission and part of 4th is filled with small retail operations. The parking is just behind them. Seems to work pretty well.
    And that garage is almost always near capacity. I use it a lot when I have to be downtown.

  11. Posted by Alai

    Even if the garage is all below grade and windowless, it’ll still use valuable street frontage: http://goo.gl/maps/TJfiu

  12. Posted by Alai

    5th & Mission garage– really? http://goo.gl/maps/tPkU1
    I mean, having some small retail is certainly better than having no small retail, but it’s an incredibly low bar to set. “We made (part of) the frontage non-awful! Can we have an award now?”
    It’s no wonder people in SF are obsessed with historic preservation: every time something old was torn down, what replaced it was worse.

  13. Posted by Frank

    5th & Mission is almost always near capacity? I must be going at strange times. The entire top two floors are empty every time I’m there except for maybe Friday/Saturday nights when they’re roughly 30% full.

  14. Posted by futurist

    So tell us again, Alai: just how does your theory work about using street frontage when the garage is ALL below grade?
    Your link did not make sense.
    And no, I’m not setting any “bar”. I’m showing an example, a small, but good example.
    Some people always see the glass half empty. I see it as half full, always with more potential to do more.

  15. Posted by Frank

    5th & Mission garage releases reports on how full they are – quick Google search shows that the garage has been hovering around 65% for the last three years (and sub-50% several years prior to that). How is 65% at capacity? That comes out to there being hundreds of available spots on an average day, sometimes over a thousand…

  16. Posted by lyqwyd

    I use fifth and mission regularly, and have been for years. I’ve only ever once seen it full, at the height of the christmas shopping season.
    The retail in that garage is a good example? I’m not sure how, as they are almost constantly going out of business, only a few have managed to stay around for more than a couple years.
    People said that the target would be the end of the world and nobody would be able to get any parking after it went in. Did it happen? Nope.
    Alai’s link is of a garage that is all underground and makes terrible use of street frontage, seems pretty appropriate to me.

  17. Posted by curmudgeon

    I agree that Alai’s link is great, and shows the problems that parking garage entrances bring to the streetscape. I think it’s one of the biggest design problems out there…and minimizing necessary entrances while still retaining necessary access is a tough one.
    But what I REALLY love about Alai’s link is that is shows a location for St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church. Does is really still exist? It used to be on Divis near Haight, and always tickled me as a concept. I remember hearing the minister interviewed on radio years ago and he seemed extremely devout in his belief that the music John Coltrane was the voice of god. Stranger things have certainly been believed. :-)

  18. Posted by SFRealist

    I’m just happy this will keep a lot of the city from having to see the Intercontinental. Anything to block that eyesore

  19. Posted by futurist

    Big, giant cities like Chicago and New York have cars and garages. They are part of the urban structure and they exist and function very well.
    Guess what? we have cars and garages too. We are not a “giant” city, perhaps, but a large one, and a dense one.
    I think many people still think of SF as a little fishing village by the sea: quaint, cute, homey; sort of like Carmel.
    Guess what? we are not. And cars and parking garages do quite well here and they are here to stay.
    A lot of us are happy for that.

  20. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Yes that was my point lyqwyd. Thanks for the clarification. There’s no way to prevent a parking garage from emitting cars onto the local street network (or exhaust for that matter).
    futurist may want to think harder about how other underground floorspace could be used. Buildings had basements long before the advent of the automobile. And then there’s the case that you can save a bundle on a building’s construction costs by not excavating at all. Money that could be put towards improving the project in other ways.

  21. Posted by futurist

    Oh wait, I forget, your highness, that garages, in fact do “emit” cars onto the city streets. I see an image of garages actually spitting out cars en mass to the street like some sort of concrete monster.
    Someone needs to save us all from this horror.

  22. Posted by anon

    Big, giant cities like Chicago and New York have cars and garages. They are part of the urban structure and they exist and function very well.
    I think we all would be quite happy to adopt New York’s regulations regarding the addition of new parking spots. They’re hilariously strict compared to SF. You make it sound like they allow MORE parking than we do, lol.

  23. Posted by anon

    Perhaps unrelated to this topic (or perhaps not), this development might be a great opportunity to build a couple pedestrian bridges in the neighborhood.
    More specifically, I think someone should build one second or third story pedestrian bridge across Mission Street going from the garage to Westfield/Bloomingdale’s, another one across Fourth Street going from the garage to the Metreon/Target, and a third one across Fifth Street going to those new buildings described above. I think that kind of above-grade walkway connection between the neighborhood’s major hubs would be extremely popular, and would also help somewhat with vehicular traffic at the street level. Just think – you could go from Bart to Target and back without having to walk across any streets.
    Just throwing out the idea…

  24. Posted by anon2

    I think futurist might be on to something regarding the idea that many want to take a Carmel Village type of view towards planning.
    Instead I propose the Rem Koolhaas view towards city streets in that they should be busy with not only pedestrians and bearded hipsters on bikes, but cars, trolleys, busses, trucks, etc. etc. all adding the dynamic energy of an urban space. The proposal being floated to make much of Market Street a car free zone would create in my opinion a homeless free reign zone dead to normal urban life instead of some fantasy country village high street in Warwickshire with dairy maids, horses and jolly children on bicycles. Herb Caen wrote about the Carmel attitude that Futurist has picked up on long ago when he said that “San Franciscan’s think they are living in a Santa Barbara with skyscrapers and without the mild sunny climate”.

  25. Posted by Alai

    Pedestrian bridges are what you build when you’ve abandoned all hope of making the street a nice place to be. Understandable when it’s built over a freeway. Or if you have snowstorms five months a year.
    But for Mission St.?

  26. Posted by anon

    Alai, I’m not talking about the kind that go across highways.
    I’m thinking of something more like the bridges that connect the Embarcadero Centers from the Hyatt to Le Meridian, which I think are great by the way.

  27. Posted by Alai

    Maybe. The Embarcadero Center was built with a freeway offramp right next to it, and I think the design reflects that. Wide sidewalks, but not much going on. A bit like the Metreon before the recent remodel. The pedestrian bridges are there to compensate.

  28. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    anon2 – I agree that most streets should support a lot of mixed mode activity. There’s no problem with that so long as streets are designed to allow those modes to mix safely, comfortably, and with minimal congestion.
    If you monitor comments on this and other websites for a while you’ll see that the shrill declarations of “ban all cars” tend to originate from the “don’t limit my driving” crowd as they mock those in favor of streets policies that encourage transit and other alternate forms of transport. They see the world black and white. If you don’t allow a developer to build whatever amount of parking that they want then you must be trying to ban all cars. Not so.
    Very few people are proposing to ban cars. Some like myself feel that the so called “free market” doesn’t exist with respect to parking and government control helps to prevent a Tragedy of the Commons on our streets. And I don’t think that Koolhaas ever wanted a total free for all on the streets either.

  29. Posted by BobN

    The Embaracero pedestrian bridges are awfully ponderous, but they sure do work well. Of course the buildings all have that indoor/outdoor thing going on at least two levels and the linking joins several blocks. It would be impossible to implement that in this complex as adjoining blocks are mostly built up.
    They could, on the other hand, make the interior streets pedestrian only and create a pleasant area ala Maidens’ Lane. The “back alleys” between Market and Mission are largely a lost opportunity that the City should reevaluate.

  30. Posted by anon2

    @MoD, I actually never make it a habit of using Market Street for driving or bike riding, but was only writing that I feel the VERY seriously being considered plan to ban cars from Market as a foolish idea. There is a safety factor in a city for pedestrians at night to know that others are nearby, even if in cars, when walking through some of of the more dangerous parts of the city.
    As a pedestrian, I actually prefer that there are cars nearby.
    @Alai, John Portman’s design was not created because of the freeway, but rather is part of his long history of large tower designs with retail being placed above street level. (See Atlanta, Los Angeles, etc. etc. as well as the Hyatt he designed on Market Street.)
    Portman liked placing public spaces that were removed from the sidewalk, and although I am not saying I admire his ideas, I do admit the Hyatt lobby is still pretty spectacular and the Embarcadero Plaza and towers work very well and are pleasant to walk through.

  31. Posted by futurist

    Pedestrian bridges are seriously derided, in fact, not allowed by the Planning Dept. From an urban planning point of view they isolate pedestrians from the street level experience and can kill a downtown.
    Yes, they were put in for the Embarcadero Center but would never be allowed in any new development today.

  32. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    anon2 – I’m also skeptical about eliminating cars from lower Market. At the very least taxi service along Market is very useful and it would be a disservice to block that.
    The last round of changes to Market made a world of difference to cyclists. We should let that ride for a while before making more severe changes.

  33. Posted by lyqwyd

    @anon2
    Agreed that most streets should have a multitude of uses, but right now the vast majority of streets are designed for only 1 use: cars. Adding 888 parking spaces only reinforces that use. The fact that they are being proposed in the of the most densely served public transit areas in the country only makes it worse.

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