February 26, 2013
Successfully Upzoned, Plans For The Castro's Fitness SF Take Shape
With the southwestern corner of Market and Noe having been successfully upzoned from 50 to 65 feet (and Café Flore's off-site kitchen protected), plans to add three stories to the building that currently houses Fitness SF at 2301 Market Street are taking shape.
First proposed in 2011, the plans call for another full-floor (9,500 square feet) for the gym, twelve new dwelling units on the top two floors, and a renovated retail space below.
According to the Castro Biscuit, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has already signed a lease for the renovated retail space but will need the Planning Commission’s approval to occupy as formula retail, the conditional use for which was actually applied for late last year.
First Published: February 26, 2013 11:15 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
That penthouse looks sweet! I hope it is all one unit. When do they go on sale?
Posted by: bgelldawg at February 26, 2013 11:58 AM
Nice project and great to see we are upgrading/enhancing/removing some of the worst 50's and 60's buildings in the Upper Market area.
Posted by: futurist at February 26, 2013 12:10 PM
It is going to look odd, a city with 6-8 story buildings on street corners and 1-2 story buildings everywhere else.
Posted by: sf at February 26, 2013 12:18 PM
I am amazed at the amount of construction currently going on right now along Market. Just about every intersection from Van Ness to Castro has a new building either currently under construction or at least plans being submitted, some have more than one. All appear to be a mix of retail and housing. Should have a very positive impact on the neighborhoods.
Posted by: Rillion at February 26, 2013 12:20 PM
We're replacing charm, funkiness and light with big generic shadow producing buildings that will look old in 10 years.
Posted by: 94114 at February 26, 2013 12:21 PM
@94114 Is 7'th and Market Funky Charm or craptastic SRO's that should be bulldozed?
Posted by: nsfw at February 26, 2013 12:32 PM
Odd is such a, well, rather odd word to describe the variety of urban architecture and character a city can have, when we have slightly taller buildings at (some) corners and slighter lower buildings at (some other) corners.
I can't get over how odd the comment by sf is: I don't really understand it. It's a rather odd thing to say.
Would it be odd to describe a city with buildings all the same height as being, well...odd?
Posted by: futurist at February 26, 2013 12:36 PM
I'm not familiar with 7th and Market but I do know that I've lived in the Castro for almost 30 years and I love Modern architecture and I know we need more housing but I have yet to see one attractive building built or proposed along Market Street, one that has some relationship with its surroundings. I'll take the empty lots and funky Thai House of Pancakes over all the crap that is being built and making this neighborhood and city look like any other generic city in this country.
Posted by: 94114 at February 26, 2013 12:40 PM
I'd say that Paris is a very non-odd city.
Posted by: sf at February 26, 2013 12:47 PM
Can we make it even more boring?
Posted by: steve at February 26, 2013 12:54 PM
I'm still trying to figure out how and when "shadow-producing" became a negative for buildings. Should we be building all underground buildings?
Posted by: anon at February 26, 2013 1:09 PM
I was waiting for you to say Paris. I knew it.
Still waiting for you to explain what is so odd about varied heights of buildings.
Posted by: futurist at February 26, 2013 1:09 PM
@94114 - Please explain how the mediocre mid-century commercial building that currently occupies that site has a relationship with its site, other than to make it look more mediocre and mid-century. You want funky charm, move to Arcata.
Posted by: Patrick at February 26, 2013 1:24 PM
I love the fact that LA has realized that stripmalls and low density corridors don't work a lot of times, but many in SF are still entrenched in NIMBYism and stuck in CA suburban identity.
You cannot like every single new building that goes up in this town. Just read the comments here on any proposed project. Sure, is some of it bland and formulaic? Of course. But the same can be said for large tracts of Victorian and Edwardian buildings built during their respective periods.
@94114: you've lived in SF for 30 years and are pleased with your empty lots and single-story businesses. This mentality is what's holding back SF from becoming a stand out city.
Posted by: Mark at February 26, 2013 1:26 PM
I didn't say that the present buildings have a relationship with its sites or than, just that I would prefer funkiness on a small scale to big, generic and bland.
Posted by: 94114 at February 26, 2013 1:31 PM
Not sure how empty lots and store fronts make the city better for anyone.
Also, I have never understood this SF obsession with 'shadows'. No matter the city, no matter how dense or tall the buildings, I always knew it was day and that the sun was shining. Modern buildings with glass and and shiny metal curtain walls reflect a ton of light and allow plenty of light to pass through them.
By some of the anti-density crowds arguments it's a wonder they don't go after FUF (Friends of the Urban Forest) and all their 'shadow' creating trees.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at February 26, 2013 1:35 PM
Funky is not an architectural term.
Truly baffling how some people, say 94114, can actually prefer something like the Thai House which apparently is "funky", whatever that means, to all of the new and modern and interesting buildings going up along Upper Market.
I think 94114 really means that "funky" is about nostalgiac crap, and NO change EVER. And that kind of thinking, echoed by many but not all SF residents is what keeps our city expensive and keeps our city new.
Posted by: futurist at February 26, 2013 1:40 PM
Correction: keeps our city from becoming "new".
Posted by: futurist at February 26, 2013 1:41 PM
With all the new residents coming to this area and mid-Market is there any consideration to public transit?
My understanding is with a new train control system they could run more trains (maybe Castro shuttles)?
Short of this or additionally I would really love to see the City consider surface LRT on Market and the Embarcadero. The PCCs street cars are cool but seem to be at capacity already and not serious for commuters.
The LRT I am thinking of is the sort you see in Germany and Switzerland. Low floor loading, lightweight and quiet for neighborhoods. I wouldn't mind seeing the J-church replaced with these as well and turned into a surface line.
Posted by: Zig at February 26, 2013 1:50 PM
I like it... As always, its hard to see what it will look like finished, via the rendering. Also great to see a sort of reuse/renovation approach.
I'm pretty excited to see the upzoning and increased density along Market. We need it.
p.s. Vacant lots and mid-century low rise structures do not make SF special. Every city in the country is packed full of that shit. We need to focus less on aesthetics and continue to focus on strategic growth. We'll be fine.
Posted by: Rob at February 26, 2013 1:53 PM
Dated in 10 years, maybe, but funky and charming in 50. Sounds good to me.
Posted by: James at February 26, 2013 1:56 PM
An interesting issue there with the diversity of heights, as opposed to Paris' uniformity.
In Paris, when new tracts of lands were put on the market in the Haussmann days (and later on up to the 1920s with Art Nouveau and Art Deco), the corners were the first to be developed. Greater access to light you get from 2 angles was the main factor. There was also the prestige of having a 3-dimensional facade for the bourgeois who were looking for a quasi-castle lifestyle in the capitale. These corner buildings were the nicest and most elaborate on the block.
Then the rest would be sold off. Some streets would take 2 years to get built up, and others would take 20 years or more due to a downturn, a war. When that happened, the empty lots would be sold at a steep discount and lower quality buildings would pop up. Sometimes you'd even see one-story buildings just a stone's throw away from a grandiose corner.
A century later, the market got its way and almost all of these oddities are all built up to the maximum allowed on the Boulevards.
I think Market Street will see more of this, except for the nicer places that will be protected. But even older mid-market buildings are getting torn down little by little.
Posted by: lol at February 26, 2013 2:05 PM
When the city improves it reminds me that my life doesn't. Therefore I hate change.
Posted by: typical plugged-in naysayer at February 26, 2013 2:20 PM
Screw light, air, and shadows. in SF this is code for change nothing anywhere ever, and that mode of thinking occupies way too much of the civic discourse here in SF
Posted by: Joe at February 26, 2013 2:37 PM
I think it's stranger now, to see a block of multi-story buildings with an empty or one-story corner lot, exposing the bare walls of its neighbors. The junky (not funky) canopy building at Market & Sanchez, across from the Thai House, is a perfect example. Better to have height on the corners than in the middle.
Posted by: James at February 26, 2013 2:38 PM
I plan on buying that penhouse, flowering it's lovely 3ft deep promenade with tacky plastic flowers, and sunbathing on it year round... in the N U D E
Posted by: Future_Anonymist at February 26, 2013 6:26 PM
Oooo--another sterile, office park building in the neighborhood! Soviet style for Soviet goofs who like this mess pile.
Posted by: parkview5 at February 26, 2013 7:38 PM
This building looks like anything going up in modern Europe, Canada, or South America.
Why is this a bad thing? We live in a globalized world now. Architecture is no longer regional.
Lighten up, people.
Posted by: sf at February 27, 2013 12:10 AM
I'm concerned about adding even more traffic to this intersection which is already a nightmare (especially for pedestrians). The new condos being built at Noe/Market are going to be a problem on 16th street adding to the congestion, and now they want to add more traffic to the Noe side. Seems like it's going to be a mess to me.
Posted by: sjg at February 27, 2013 7:29 AM
@sjg: so what are you offering as an alternative? leave all intersections on Market between Church and Castro void of development because of potential increase in traffic? What kind of traffic...ped? car? bike?
In that case why add height along Geary? Or redevelop anything in SOMA? Perhaps if there was more smart development and infill then there could potentially be less traffic since more amenities and possibly jobs (remember the 190,000 projection in an earlier post this week?) would be in walking or transit distance to where people live.
Posted by: Mark at February 27, 2013 8:04 AM
That particular intersection is kinda messy for pedestrians. That's not so much related to car density but timing of the lights and the way the intersection is designed.
For instance when you drive from Noe and want to go east on Market, you wait for the (shortish) green light, cross 16th street then reach the pedestrian crosswalk which has its own green light exactly at the same time. You've already driven a full 100 feet on Market in a straight line before getting to that crosswalk which makes it quite a bit confusing. Pedestrians can feel the cars will run them over.
The crossing at Sanchez has resolved this issue for pedestrians by adding an extra light for cars. But then you have cars stuck there at the intersection while cross traffic starts zooming through.
Adding density will not change the unfortunate design. But they should maybe rethink the timing.
Posted by: lol at February 27, 2013 8:28 AM
sorry but there are easy fixes to the pedestrian issues at 16th and market, curb bulbouts and/or turning the intersection into a pedestrian scrum (all traffic is stopped in all directions to allow pedestrians to cross)
but to not use a vacant lot, or replace low rise development, to add new housing to accommodate the employees (and the employees who will provide services to the employees) of the new businesses SF is offering hundreds of millions of tax breaks to attract is ridiculous.
SF is a dense urban environment and, due to the ongoing success of Silicon Valley, is only going to get denser and more urban.
Either get on board and push for smart growth (density, transit, infrastructure) or move to Mendocino.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at February 27, 2013 8:34 AM
@Mark: I am simply voicing a concern about a very unsafe intersection. I am NOT suggesting that there be no development. It's really important that we add some housing to the City, as the current situation for renters and buyers is unacceptable.
I am not really sure what a good fix would be. I really like the idea of an all stop for cars to allow pedestrians to cross. Perhaps more strict traffic control (no u-turns, no turn on red, etc), most certainly better traffic enforcement by police).
I live right by this intersection, the traffic congestion on 16th street at the afternoon rush hour is RIDICULOUS. I can't even count the number of times while walking my dogs, that I (or the dogs) have almost been hit by cars flying through the intersections, making u-turns, etc. It's dangerous and I have not seen the City really address this problem so far.
Posted by: sjg at February 27, 2013 8:59 AM
I'm with BDB. A bad crosing shouldn't stop development.
Now the question is whether the city will be smart about the crossing or just play it by ear.
When you have add density to a problematic traffic area, you're pushing your luck. The first pedestrian/cyclist fatality usually triggers an media outcry followed by a real effort. Like Masonic and Oak/Fell or Castro and Market or Octavia and Market.
Families will move in these buildings. Does Noe and Market have to wait for the first crushed baby stroller to get this mess fixed once and for all?
Posted by: lol at February 27, 2013 9:30 AM
The Castro/Market pedestrian/cyclist death about a year ago was caused by a cyclist running a red or at least VERY yellow light and killing and elderly man legally walking in the marked crosswalk.
Posted by: futurist at February 27, 2013 10:21 AM
futurist, what's your point? This horrible accident caused a typical after-the-fact brainstorming, even though the accident probably had nothing to do with the design of the intersection.
But we are now seeing plans to improve the walkability of Castro Street, including the improvement of the incoming traffic situation, because there's room for major improvements (hint: slow down traffic and more space for people).
Another 2 that will be probably improved in the next few years:
- King and 3rd, after a cement truck killed a cyclist last week. No fault to the cyclist. Bad design.
- Harrison at the Bus Depot: a cyclist went under the bus but apparently suffered "only" tons of bruises. No fault to the cyclist from what she said. Bad design.
Posted by: lol at February 27, 2013 10:48 AM
At this rate people can claim that any intersection can be dangerous. And it's true. All it takes is someone jaywalking, a car running a yellow or red light, or a cyclist completely ignoring traffic laws. However, there are flaws in road designs, traffic alignments and signaling that can be modified to minimize the city's responsibility.
Getting back to the cyclist who ran the light at Market/Castro (allegedly)...how long of a lag time is it from the time the light turns red for traffic on Castro St. to when the ped crossing turns green crossing Castro? Clearly, the city should factor in several more seconds to accommodate dark yellow/light red light runners getting through the intersection before peds start crossing. Especially, considering this is a major hub for peds coming out of MUNI (and Twin Peaks Bar).
Posted by: Mark at February 27, 2013 11:18 AM
Here is my point succinctly lol:
The accident perhaps had nothing to do with that particular intersection with the law-breaking cyclist.
But it had everything to do with who uses the intersection in a safe and legal manner.
The pedestrian was acting legally, and sadly, is now dead.
Posted by: futurist at February 27, 2013 11:37 AM
"the traffic congestion on 16th street at the afternoon rush hour is RIDICULOUS...have almost been hit by cars flying through the intersections"
By my reckoning, congested traffic and cars flying through are polar opposites. If it's congested, cars can never get up to speed, by definition. If cars are flying through, that sounds like a job for traffic enforcement.
As for pedestrians crossing, there have been plenty of legally-crossing pedestrians who have been hit and killed in the past few years. The old lady on Geary & Arguello; Lourdes Richman who was hit in SOMA. I don't know exactly what it would take to stop these incidents, but more consistent prosecution is probably pretty high up there.
Posted by: Alai at February 27, 2013 11:58 AM
Oddly enough, congestion can cause cars to "fly through". The Noe and 16th crossing is precisely one of those.
When you drive back on Market and want to go up Noe towards NV, you have to wait from the cross traffic to be done. Only 2 cars can make it safely and legally but then they encounter the pedestrians that are at the end of their green light. It's pretty tight.
Now say it's 6PM and there's 6 or 7 cars waiting to turn left (I've seen it). Many will just rush to sqeeze in between the cross traffic running the yellow and the Noe Street light turning green. Then of course in the winter it's pitch black and some pedestrians will take their chances. That's one more situation to improve atb that intersection.
Posted by: lol at February 27, 2013 12:07 PM
Yes, a lot of that is true. I think the lights should be timed longer for more cars to get thru, and yes, some light timing longer for peds.
But how many times have we seen peds "strolling" across Noe at Market illegally, while barking on their cell phones? A lot. And plenty of those gym bunnys don't seem to know what wait means on the signal.
Plenty of peds are also to blame for the slowness at intersections.
Posted by: futurist at February 27, 2013 12:44 PM
It's just a terrible intersections, as many have noted; it's very confusing given that it has three streets crossing, making the turning movements difficult. In my view the vast majority of the problems are caused by motorists who forget that they are operating in an enviroment with lots of peds, and anything that can be done to "calm" the street, and remind everyone they are sharing the road would be helpful
Prime example is of a car driving down Market and wanting to turn right onto 16th. They have a green to go straight, and it is tempting to think they also have a free right onto 16th...but the peds have a walk signal in the same direction. Because of the acute angle of the intersection, peds can't easily sense if there is a car in the intersection when the walk light comes on. I don't know how many times I've cautioned an oblivious ped (often a tourist or weekend visitor) when they start crossing.
This problem is also magnified by the width of the intersection. People often run yellows thinking they can get across the intersection before it turns red. They can't, and peds are caught in the cross fire....again sometimes walking LEGALLY out into the intersection into the path of an oncoming car still clearing the intersection after the light has turned red.
And, in some ways congestion DOES magnify this, if only becauseafter waiting through a cycle or two, anxious drivers tend to put their pedal to the metal when they see an opening.
I don't have any great solutions, except to say that car drivers need to be very conscious in this intersection, because peds can often not easily see them approaching. And peds need to be very cautious too, and never take the white ped signal as license to walk.
Posted by: curmudgeon at February 27, 2013 2:05 PM
They need to make the block of 16th between Market and Castro one way.
Posted by: wc1 at February 27, 2013 2:09 PM