May 31, 2013
The Refined Designs For A Prime Market And Castro Street Corner
As a condition of approval last year, the developers of the six-story building to rise at 376 Castro and Market Street agreed to work with the Planning Department to modernize and refine the building's design, and refined the design has been (click images to enlarge).
The Planning Deparment's overview of the new design, the new unit mix (with BMR's onsite), the current state of the corner, and a flashback to the earlier design:
The building is a fusion of a bold transparent element at the intersection of Market and Castro Streets flanked by solid walls with rhythmically patterned window openings, balconies, and bay projections. The corner element is a spandrel glass system with non-tinted glazing and an aluminum frame in a warm, pewter color paint finish. The solid walls are clad with terra cotta tiles, grounding the building with a dark grey at the base of the building and a random palette of terra cotta red and buff colors for the body of the building. The precise palette may include less color variety than presented.
The building is flanked by a shallow bay window system on both Market and Castro Streets, and will be clad with the same aluminum color as the corner element. The roof terrace has a windscreen of glass and mesh that is a continuation of the corner transparent element, and it will be capped with a pewter colored aluminum cornice. Balcony rails are either comprised of clear glass elements or painted metal rails.
The project will yield 24 new residential units (now 5 one-bedrooms and 19 two's) with 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, a garage for 14 cars and 12 bikes, and a street-level room dedicated for neighborhood community use where a gas station now stands.
And of course, as the pre-refined design appeared:
First Published: May 31, 2013 4:15 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
NICE~ I like the new design a lot and am happy they are keeping an appropriate scale for the neighborhood.
Posted by: anonandon at May 31, 2013 4:20 PM
Nimbys must seeth with fury when faced with fighting a new development like this!
To every complaint they lodge you merely respond, "It is better than a gas station isn't it?"
Posted by: redseca2 at May 31, 2013 4:42 PM
A few years ago, I almost rented the large studio apartment that has that nice patio that overlooks the gas station and the intersection. I'm glad I dodged that bullet.
Posted by: Mark at May 31, 2013 4:47 PM
BMRs on-site. That means the owners will have 5 of their number who cannot afford the level of maintenance and possible improvement that the rest can and will be a constant "issue" as time passes.
Posted by: BTinSF at May 31, 2013 5:02 PM
I'd prefer it to have a bouncy house for the public to use, to the ballot!
Posted by: Sam at May 31, 2013 5:15 PM
the old design was much nicer, and frankly much more modern. neither design is tall enough. this area could easily take 8-10 floors and fit in well
Posted by: spencer at May 31, 2013 5:33 PM
In this case, I'd prefer the gas station.
The building is fug.
Posted by: Mike at May 31, 2013 6:01 PM
Much better. A rare plan-inc department win.
Posted by: egg_cream_of_OCD at May 31, 2013 7:02 PM
Out of scale. Why in the world build a delicate side-street style building on one of our major intersections?
Add it to the lost opportunity list of underbuilt structures.
Posted by: Invented at May 31, 2013 7:51 PM
I like this one. I think it's the right scale and massing. Yes, it's somewhat taller than adjacent buildings but does not overpower that corner.
Do we need taller buildings at every corner? No. We don't need to become NYC or Chicago. Except for most of downtown, Market and VanNess and parts of Rincon Hill, we are not a city of very tall buildings. this works well for this location.Now, let's see if that other gas station at the opposite corner will eventually go away and the quirky corner lot be developed much more appropriately with retail and housing.
Posted by: futurist at May 31, 2013 8:43 PM
^^I wonder where we will eventually be able to buy gas. East of Twin Peaks, I only know of 3 or 4 gas stations of which the remaning one at Market & Castro is one.
Once upon a time, in cities, gas stations were incorporated into the ground floors of some buildings (as we are doing now with super markets--another necessity). But ugly as they can be, we cannot eliminate all gas stations and IMHO we are coming perilously close to eliminating more than we should unless we find a way to replace them in a more pleasing way.
Posted by: BTinSF at June 1, 2013 12:26 AM
Oh, and I know cars are evil, hated blah blah. Some of us are of an age or ability status where riding a bike or walking more than a few blocks is ceasing to be an option and Muni is not sufficiently reliable (or pleasant, especially for older people). You will not be able to force us from our cars if we have drive to the suburbs--polluting all the way--to buy gas. So architects need to start thinking about how to make it possible to do so without wrecking the urban fabric.
Posted by: BTinSF at June 1, 2013 12:29 AM
I've got no issue with incorporating gas stations into the bottom levels of buildings if there's an actual market need for it. Doesn't seem to be remotely the case yet, as the remaining gas stations never seem all that busy (I filled up last night at 7pm by driving into the station at Van Ness/Pine and was the only car there).
Posted by: anon at June 1, 2013 5:35 AM
Don't you mean to say some of us are sufficiently privileged that we do not consider ourselves willing to ride the bus with the poor and middle class folks? I see older riders on Muni all the time, especially during the day. But you are correct that the wealthy drivers in town will continue to demand that everyone else continue to make accommodations for them. It is going to be hard to get the Boomers to get with the program.
I see nothing wrong with a few gas stations, especially since they can be converted to all electric or natural gas refueling stations when the time comes.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 1, 2013 7:09 AM
(I am going to start ignoring comments from people who own cars telling other people how they should get around the city.)
The size and massing of this building is a great example of appropriate density for a location like this. I have bashed SF Planning in the past but this time they got it right.
Posted by: Burnham at June 1, 2013 7:56 AM
Those that are not of "ability" to ride bikes are a huge minority in this city (people into their 70s commute by bike in other countries), of which there are more than enough gas stations in the city to accommodate them even if they closed down 30 more. We live in America, one of the most advanced countries, it's not like we have lame and limps and deformeds like they do in other countries, who *really* have an excuse to not be able to ride a bike. 99% of people who whine that they can not ride a bike are just lazy (yes, another American attribute, unfortunately).
Posted by: sf at June 1, 2013 8:03 AM
Except for the northeast, SF still has plenty of gas stations, though not many cheap ones.
Map of stations with current prices at namelink.
Posted by: Jake at June 1, 2013 8:29 AM
Building is ok, but I'm worried there isn't enough space at the corner and that pedestrians will get pushed into the street waiting for the light.
Posted by: Jo Ellen at June 1, 2013 8:46 AM
Yes, I totally support the idea of some gas stations incorporated (carefully) into the ground floors of new buildings. It is common in the larger cities in Europe, but its a complicated issue here, dealing with the building and fire safety codes. But it'd doable.
And @ NoeValleyJim: once again! I do not CHOOSE to ride a bike in this city. Can you understand that freedom of choice? You are free to ride your bike or whatever other contraption you CHOOSE to use to get around, including Muni. I rarely ride Muni, except to go downtown. It is not efficient, it's unpredictable, and sometimes not safe.
You, Jim, need to have the capacity to understand the concept of choice. And, no, it's not about being sufficiently priveleged, as you say. It's not about being "wealthy". Why do you continue to put down others who are not following your lifestyle. Quite frankly, it gets tiring to hear your rant. You need to be more open minded.
Posted by: futurist at June 1, 2013 11:29 AM
I think you are missing an important point that NVJ was making- gas stations, parking garages, and catering to an automobile lifestyle do nothing to further the public good. In fact they detract from it exponentially, in added pollution, in sacrificed space where garages could be used as residences, in traffic and stress, in pavement over natural landscapes. A car culture is heavily subsidized by society to its own detriment, and we've had enough. If you think SF is bad for your lifestyle, try going to any other country in the world and see how much more unfriendly they are to cars. You don't know how good you have it, and frankly, the gravy train should be bled.
Posted by: sf at June 1, 2013 12:22 PM
Oh, this has to be a ballot measure for sure, I can see it now, "NO WALL ON CASTRO STREET".....architecture this nice must be challenged at all costs....how dare them!
Posted by: SuzieQ at June 1, 2013 12:50 PM
Oh my Sf: you seem to be drinking the same stuff that NVJ is downing.
Your comments about gas stations, garages and the 'automobile lifestyle", (your words) are really way out there. ah, I've been to Europe many times and if I recall, I also see cars in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I also see gas stations, albeit smaller, tucked under buildings (which I support). And so, it seems in those cities that cars and people seem to co-exist. Yes, cars there are smaller, and fewer per household. Why? more density, shorter distances to bike or walk to, AND: pretty damn good transit systems.
And housing in garages? Huh?
But what's with this little dig about SF being bad for my "lifestyle". Huh? and not knowing how "good" I, or others have it? Huh? WTF are you trying to say?
And do tell us about the "gravy train". Can't wait to hear about that rant.
You touched on so many subjects that it's hard to keep up with you.
Fact is: I love this city, it's been my home for many years. I'm all for better transit, responsible growth, more urban housing, more trees, better sidewalks, RESPONSIBLE cycling, and even gas stations tucked under buildings.
But, sorry to disappoint you. I'm staying here for a while and will continue to use my car.
Posted by: futurist at June 1, 2013 1:04 PM
@futurist...I could not agree more. What I find rather funny is that some of the most anti-car posters on this site OWN AND USE cars themselves.
I remember a while back that even NoeValleyJim admitted he needed to own and use a car but I believe his excuse was he had children. (He did protest that he did not use his car every day, but felt he was exempt from his own anti-car nonsense because of "the children")
MeterMadness has a posting about how SFMTA has been avoiding spending needed funds to maintain and repair MUNI so that there is now huge backlog of needed repairs in the hundreds of millions. In the meantime, the funds that should have gone to MUNI are used on new splashy bike promotion websites, new bike paths, parklets, parkmobiles, and snazzy paving plans.
But...back to this building..I noticed that they now include bike parking in the garage plans. 14 auto parking spaces for 24 units is TOO LOW. There should be 28 parking spaces and 60 bike parking spaces underground.
Posted by: FedUp at June 1, 2013 2:15 PM
Parking garages are essential to a city. This is silly. The Grove/Gough parking garage exists, for example, to funnel in the patrons of the symphony, ballet, and opera from other parts of the Bay Area, many of whom are older, or have children (Nutcracker, etc). The parking garages in SoMa attract shoppers who are not willing to navigate Muni with significant purchases.
What is hilarious to me is that outside of, say, rush hour in portions of Van Ness and the Embarcadero, I have NEVER seen traffic or congestion in this city. I have never seen it, save for street festivals or parades, in North Beach, in the Marina, in the Mission, in Hayes Valley, etc.
Bikes are not a viable option for many, and on top of that, there is freedom to choose. I choose not to ride a bike for literally dozens of reasons: speed of travel, safety, inconvenience for shopping, etc. I do use Muni frequently, but need a car for my work/commute. Given that many in SF commute down the Peninsula to work, many are going to choose to have cars. CalTrain is great, if you work near a station, but most do not. CalTrain is not convenient to most of the larger scale tech campi, nor to the Page Mill corridor in Palo Alto, or the venture capital community of Sand Hill Road.
I would venture most in this city that have cars use them primarily to get to and from work. But at the end of the day, cars exist, they will always exist, and this city has virtually no problems with congestion, so honestly? Stop fighting it. People are obviously going to continue to own them.
And honestly? Even though I do use Muni, I will frequently choose Uber or a taxi because of the fact that they are safer and infinitely more reliable/speedy than a bus. You want to get cars off the road? You won't do it by eliminating gas stations, you do it by pulling a DC and INVESTING IN A LARGE SCALE AND SPEEDY SUBWAY. No light rail, no fast track bus lanes, the way to get the influx of 20 and 30 somethings off of cars is a subway.
Posted by: JWS at June 1, 2013 2:38 PM
Oh, and not to mention, similar to the commuting factor, many choose to own cars in the city to take advantage of the wine country, hikes, and skiing just north of us. If you are a Napa or Tahoe fan, which many in the city are, of course you are going to own a car. That is one of the beautiful things about San Francisco, the proximity to nature and outdoors activities.
Posted by: JWS at June 1, 2013 2:42 PM
Id like nothing more than to stop this fantasy that light rail is a useful method of travel. Spending close to 2 billion on the T extension is almost too absurd for me to deal with, but I can't see the city approving a real subway line.
I used to live in DC, and the subway was great. I mean at the time we used to rag on it, on weekends the trains come every 15 minutes (which seems like a luxury now), but on weekdays during rush hour you'll see packed heavy rail trains coming every 3-5 minutes.
The problem of course, is that I believe it was mostly funded with Federal dollars where the spending limit is effectively infinite. SF has to build it (mostly) itself, and has been doing just an awful job of it.
I can't see the trend changing, unless one day a mayor runs on a platform of public transportation fixes. We elect a Board that wants to change Muni also, and they radically overhaul how Muni operates, and bites the bullet and invests in the first Muni heavy rail subway line.
Posted by: Sam at June 1, 2013 3:46 PM
The problem goes right to the top of the SFMTA. They have now admitted to the Board of Supervisors that their policy is "not one additional parking space should be added in the city, period". Instead the agency that was created to fix the public transit system has spent their time mainly on reducing parking (private and public) and increasing parking revenues and creation of bike paths.
This very nice Castro building's limited parking is an example of how they have spent their time obsessed with parking planning policy vs. developing any serious plan to fix MUNI.
Regarding the Washington D.C. subways, I was astonished at how clean they were, and without the ever present smell of urine we have in our stations here in "world class" San Francisco.
Also- the escalators work at the Washington stations!
Posted by: Burnham at June 1, 2013 4:27 PM
Excellent commentary both FedUp and JWS. Thank you for your opinions and ideas. I agree completely.
I have mentioned many times in my 34 years of living in The City, I have never experienced heavy traffic or congestion. The Central freeway is a different story, but we don't use that, essentially, to get AROUND SF.
I would very much support the addition of public parking garages in key retail and destination neighborhoods, such as The Castro, Noe, etc. These garages could in fact replace ALL the metered parking on the primary streets in those areas and allow Wider SIDEWALKS, pedestrian ways, etc. Santa Monica is a prime example of that decision and the 3rd St. Promenade is a huge success. The bike coalition people cannot possibly protest that idea. But they will.
I also agree that the parking ratio is too low for this new subject property. Minimum 1:1 and yes, lots of bike parking. I'm fine with that.
And yes, using your own car for out of town trips is an important choice. We just got back last week from an amazing road trip to Lake Tahoe and the mountains in MY own car. Who in their right mind would rent a car for a long trip like that, and have to put up with the smells and crap a rental car has? Who does that?
And yes, to echo previous thoughts: Cars will always exist, they are here to stay, even in SF, and yes London and Paris and Rome and Amsterdam.
I would like nothing more than to keep the dialogue going about making this city better every day. The pro bike people are part of this solution as well, but they would get more supporters if they would stop pushing their agenda on others, accept and respect other choices, and have a serious discussion about getting the cycling community to become a more respectful and law abiding part of the public roadway.
Posted by: futurist at June 1, 2013 4:37 PM
And gas prices in Europe are 3- 4x that of America, so what is your point? That Europe is car friendly? It isn't. Less people there drive than walk and take transit. Their cities are not built around cars. They function very well without the traffic jams that are known to American cities and metropolitan areas because of this.
Anyone who laments a loss of a gas station when there is one right across the street has a really bad case of the ME-asels. You do realize how spoiled car drivers are when gas stations are removed, leaving another one across the street, and they complain that bicycle fascists are ruining their enjoyment of their entry level BMW 3 series.
For the perfect example of the state of gas stations and pro car development in this city, click the link in my name. Yes, it's a little out of hand.
Posted by: sf at June 1, 2013 4:50 PM
Nobody should miss or want a gas station at this desirable corner. I thought the discussion was about the city forcing new residential projects to reduce the availability of off street private parking for owners?
And as wonderful as San Francisco is, it does NOT have the public transit infrastructure of most European cities, perhaps any at all.
Posted by: Burnham at June 1, 2013 5:44 PM
All these car rants are pointless. San Francisco will never cater to cars, no matter how loudly you complain about the bicycle terrorists or your right to choose.
Posted by: Brad at June 1, 2013 7:06 PM
I thought the discussion was about the city forcing new residential projects to reduce the availability of off street private parking for owners?
Um, the city still forces developers to build MORE parking than many would like in most parts of the city (where 1:1 parking is mandated by law in spite of no market demand for that absurd level).
Posted by: anon at June 1, 2013 7:14 PM
Brad just used "bicycle terrorist".
Does this qualify as a Godwin's Law event?
Poor poor drivers who have to silently accept their fate while being threatened by these ruthless bicycle terrorists and their WMD aka Burrito Gas.
Posted by: lol at June 1, 2013 8:17 PM
As I have said many times, I am all in favor of choice. Cars are okay, as long as the drivers pay the full cost of their use and stop forcing others to bear the burden of their use. Gasoline in Amsterdam is around $10/gallon and public parking permits cost $2000/yr. That would be a good start and I am glad to see SFMTA move in that direction.
"without the ever present smell of urine" "have to put up with the smells and crap a rental car has?"
The only thing I smell is privilege. You can't smell it? I guess when you are surrounded by it all the time you get used to it or something.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 1, 2013 10:56 PM
Who in their right mind would rent a car for a long trip like that, and have to put up with the smells and crap a rental car has? Who does that?
Really, futurist? [Rolls eyes]
Glad to know the Trabant can still climb those hills.
Posted by: lol at June 1, 2013 11:54 PM
It is actually nice to see the car zealots trying so hard to silence me.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." - Mahatma Ghandi
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 2, 2013 7:28 AM
Could we PLEASE talk about the building?! (Nobody has asked to silence any of the anti-car posts or has even responded to various protestations in the last 12 hours). I am beginning to think some are confusing having the last word with winning an argument.)
I would like to have a dialogue with the "could care less about cars" crowd as to why some feel this building should have been "much more tall". Very tall residential buildings are huge consumers of resources (see Kunstler's writings on this subject) and buildings of the scale of this project are really more appropriate and create a better neighborhood street life. I would rather see San Francisco allow many more buildings such as this to be built along neighborhood commercial streets and other corner locations. The whole city should not have to be built up like Rincon Hill, and I personally find the tall tower neighborhoods to be without character or pedestrian life.
Posted by: MovingOn at June 2, 2013 8:09 AM
Oh boy, where to start.
With your logic, we shouldn't be building anything at all, anywhere, and we should tear down all buildings, because they use more energy than nothing at all.
Posted by: sf at June 2, 2013 8:39 AM
Never said that. I was responding to those who felt this project should have been much taller. I don't think 20 and 30 story buildings would be appropriate for the Castro, Noe, the Marina etc. My point is that we need to up-zone many neighborhoods to allow more buildings like this. (4 to 7 stories). Lombard in my part of the city (Marina-Cow Hollow) could easily have many buildings such as this instead of gas stations and one story commercial structures. All I was trying to say is that building a 30 story tower in any neighborhood is not going to solve the housing problem or create a better city.
Build as many 80 story condo towers as you want in Rincon Hill and FiDi, but do your homework so that you don't end up in a SOMA GRAND situation.
Posted by: MovingOn at June 2, 2013 8:50 AM
You said very tall buildings are huge consumers of resources. Compared to a single family home that is correct. But a bus also consumes more resources than a Honda Civic. But if you put all of those people from the bus into a Honda Civic, then guess what is consuming more resources?
The taller a building, the less resources it consumes per capita. False argument you were making, and a great scare tactic of the anti- height crowd.
Posted by: sf at June 2, 2013 9:42 AM
MovingOn must be a "Progressive." He is in favor of "Progress" which in this case means the smallest building footprint possible.
I personally think that Paris has about the right scale and would prefer to see Parisan style building heights at most locations. But you could convince me that higher is better in a commercial and transportation corridor like this one.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 2, 2013 1:23 PM
Paris also has much skinnier streets and a much more interesting street layout leading to tiny snaking alleys and pedestrian thoroughfares. Thus it's high density, zoning SF for 5 stories would not result in the same density.
Also, lol @ you comparing yourself to Ghandi
Posted by: Sam at June 2, 2013 1:58 PM
It was a quote from Ghandi. You do understand the difference between quoting someone and comparing oneself to someone right?
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
I don't believe that am I comparing myself to Shakespeare here.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 2, 2013 2:50 PM
Ha yes, Im sure your quote of Ghandi was completely detached from some point you were trying to make, and was intended to just inform us of notable quotes throughout history. Next up, maybe some Lincoln, Francis of Assisi?
"It is actually nice to see the car zealots trying so hard to silence me.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." - Mahatma Ghandi"
yes... No reason to lie now Jim
Posted by: Sam at June 2, 2013 3:12 PM
Oh yeah, the building. Build it, damn the torpedoes full speed ahead!
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at June 2, 2013 3:22 PM
@sf wrote: "The taller a building, the less resources it consumes per capita"...
"The environmental impact of skyscrapers and whether instead of skyscrapers multiple smaller, lighter buildings would be more environmentally friendly or sustainable is under debate" (From Wikipedia article on environmental impacts of skyscrapers. @sf- you are correct until a building reaches a certain height depending on soils, earthquake zone, climate, etc. after that the argument turns the other way. Here in San Francisco after about 40 stories the environmental efficiency of tall tower construction only pencils out for very high land costs and very high lease or sales prices. These types of structures (above 40 stories) are not a solution for the majority of people earning less than 300K a year. You are correct that a corner building like this Castro corner could have been taller, though how tall is open for debate imho.
Posted by: Anonandon at June 2, 2013 3:53 PM
In regards to where SF should build taller, I agree with MovingOn in the sense that many neighborhoods should NOT be exponentially taller than they are now. These include, IMO, Chinatown, the Mission, Marina (particularly around Mallorca/Alhambra/Capra), North Beach, Noe Valley, Castro, Alamo Square, Hayes Valley (although I am in full support of the new construction that is revitalizing this neighborhood). These neighborhoods are characterized by their architecture, and a sudden proliferation of high-rises will ruin them.
Now, I am not doing this from a "NIMBY" standpoint, but what DOES need to be realized is that, in my opinion, there are two American cities that are completely unreplicable in other parts of the country/world. These are SF and New Orleans. SF owes much of its charm and international appeal to its architecture, with heavy Victorian and art deco influences. Raising height limits substantially in the aforementioned neighborhoods DOES take away from the city's charm drastically. I don't think being concerned about keeping the integrity of these vibrant neighborhoods intact (from an architectural standpoint anyway) is avoiding development, but rather ensuring that we keep the defining and unique character of SF alive.
However, if we do not raise heights in these areas substantially, we need to be focusing on where it DOES make sense, because charm or no charm, this city needs to GROW. In my opinion, SOMA/South Beach/Rincon Hill, and Civic Center, are begging for a transformation. SOMA, for reasons that everybody knows, has dozens and dozens of huge, centrally located plots of land, that currently exist in incredibly underutilized forms (parking lots, single story warehouses, etc). To not adequately build up for the future in this neighborhood is a fear of mine, in that I think it is only 20 years or so from now that we will look back and realize that we may have wasted some prime commercial and residential opportunities by building too small.
Civic Center, on the flip side, is a central focal point for the city, in terms of it being very close to 101, and the intersection of arguably the two most important streets (Market and Van Ness). Right now there are huge building plots (many of which have admittedly been up zoned) that are sorely underutilized.
I would love to see the height/size development be focused in these two areas, with transportation to match. Other corridors (including Geary and the aforementioned Lombard, which I agree needs more buildings) can also be upbuilt, but not to the extent that SOMA/Civic Center can and should be. As for the other neighborhoods? Continue to develop where needed/available, but I do think the charm/ambiance of these areas needs to be protected more closely, as they are tied to the cultural appeal of the city as a whole.
I wish we did not pretend we live in a black and white zone, where one side thinks the whole city needs to be up zoned and that no thought should be given to neighborhood preservation, whereas the other side thinks nothing should be touched, ever. We exist in a gray area here that is preventing us from focusing on the opportunities that make the most sense.
Just my two cents.
Posted by: JWS at June 2, 2013 6:16 PM
I just can't understand why the mission isnt zoned for 20 story buildings. BART is right there, freeways are basically right there, seems obvious to me. By protecting the visual look of the Mission, it is going to completely eliminate the character of it. Doesn't seem like a fair tradeoff to me
Posted by: Sam at June 2, 2013 7:08 PM
Excellent post JWS. That is the type of input I come to Socketsite for.
"We exist in a gray area here that is preventing us from focusing on the opportunities that make the most sense."
Posted by: AnonArch at June 3, 2013 7:16 AM
"this city needs to GROW"
Posted by: Diemos at June 3, 2013 8:03 AM
Sam, by mentioning "By protecting the visual look of the Mission…" and implying that aesthetic preferences are the only rationale holding back more and denser construction, you're missing out on the real, compelling reasons that the city can't just upzone the entire mission for twenty story towers. And this is regardless of whatever justifications appear in print in planning documents.
Of course you're correct that the Mission has a better transit access infrastructure than other more outlying areas. But there's other kinds of infrastructure that are relevant.
As one example, from The Chronicle in April of last year, Storm spews sewage into Mission neighborhood:
The rain that fell early Thursday overwhelmed storm drains in part of San Francisco's Mission District, spewing sewage into several homes and businesses – a problem the city has tried before to fix and failed.Emphasis mine. Does that sound like a neighborhood ready for a bevy of new towers?
Garages, businesses, an artist's studio and at least one restaurant kitchen near Folsom and 17th streets were coated in muck. The rainfall wasn't of biblical proportions – about half an inch fell by 8 a.m. – but most of it came down in a short time and the city's storm drains couldn't handle the load, regurgitating the night's waste.
…Thomas Lackey, who owns the Stable Cafe at 2128 Folsom…wasn't surprised, because floods are a fact of life in the neighborhood, one of the lowest-lying areas of the city.
"The rain always makes me nervous, because I think this might happen and it did," Lackey said. "It is a health issue now."
This is the third time the area has flooded since 2004, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city's Public Utilities Commission.
The city simply doesn't have the money to fund the infrastructure necessary to even approach the growth that outsiders and developers want and the existence of Prop. 13 guarantees that the needed funding will never appear.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at June 3, 2013 11:15 AM
@Diemos - The city needs to grow because demand is through the roof, AND we have the space. On top of that, nobody projects San Francisco, and the greater metropolitan area, to do anything but grow in national and international significance. People want to live here, the technology industry keeps gaining in importance, and rents are absurd for any city outside of Manhattan.
We may not have the space in North Beach or Noe Valley or whatever, but like I said, there are gigantic central plots of unused and underutilized space for days in SOMA, that has close proximity to BART, CalTrain, the new central subway, etc. It does not take a degree in urban planning to put two and two together.
But of course, let's keep the abandoned warehouses and parking lots the way they are, just because. However, I do agree that the historic and residential based neighborhoods that have characterized San Francisco for decades do not need to undergo a dramatic revitalization. The answer is SOMA, the answer is Mission Bay, the answer is Civic Center.
We cannot sit back and pretend that San Francisco is a quaint little fishing town. The global Alpha city rankings put San Francisco in the "Alpa" category, alongside only four other cities: New York, LA, Chicago, and Washington DC. And you are kidding yourself if you think the increasing reliance of the American and global economy on technology, which centers itself in this area, will not continue to push SF higher and higher into the international realm.
There is a way to respect this city's need to grow without compromising the charm of the many neighborhoods that define SF's culture, and all it entails giving up PARKING LOTS and OLD WAREHOUSES for pete's sake. This should be a no brainer. We cannot keep our heads in the sand about where SF is heading, nor should we abolish everything this city stands for. Why everybody seems to pick a dramatic side and ignore the middle area is beyond me.
Posted by: JWS at June 3, 2013 11:22 AM
Building looks about the right height for that corner and neighborhood.
As for the loss of another gas station, that's just the free market at work. These traditional style gas stations take up too much valuable land that can make the owner of the land more money by developing it than keeping it a gas station. Factor in the environmental contamination issues that come with a gas station and its not surprising that we are seeing them disappear pretty rapidly from the city.
Posted by: Rillion at June 3, 2013 12:06 PM
I do not and have not argued that THIS gas station needs to stay and I like the proposed building. But as I have watched one gas station after another be eliminated--with no effort to build WITH a gas station incorporated into the design--I reiterate that eventually it will be hard to find a place to buy gas.
I personally have put the rants of those who want to insist that I, someone approaching 70 with various infirmities, must get around town as they choose to--on a bike or a bus full of people that, yes, I don't want to sit next to (sneer if you wish, who cares?)--on ignore.
This city needs a lot of things. It needs more density, more housing, and certainly more and better public transportation. Bikes are probably the least efficient way of moving all kinds of people in a dense city but that's not the issue here. The issue is accommodating all the needs of the city which include new bedrooms in new buildings and places to buy gas. We do seem to be ignoring the latter.
Posted by: BTinSF at June 3, 2013 1:50 PM
Yes, there are still plenty of gas stations in SF, and as has been pointed out earlier, very few of them are particularly busy, except those located near major arteries, and only during rush hour.
As far as the building goes I like it a lot and don't really have an issue with the height, although it could be a few stories taller without any problems. Go much beyond that and it starts to get out of scale with the other buildings around it.
I think a reasonable rule regarding building height that could be applied throughout most of the city would be to allow all buildings to be at least 1 story taller, or 25% taller, than the immediate neighboring buildings, or as tall as the tallest building on the block, whichever is greatest. That would allow for organic growth in height over the years without having to re zone areas as the years go on.
Posted by: lyqwyd at June 3, 2013 1:54 PM
The issue is accommodating all the needs of the city which include new bedrooms in new buildings and places to buy gas. We do seem to be ignoring the latter.
Nobody's "ignoring" the need for places to buy gas, any more than we're "ignoring" the need for places to buy vinyl records. In both cases, we simply don't need nearly as many places to buy each as we did in the past, and in both cases that trend will likely continue. The market seems to be handling this just fine by correctly closing locations that can't turn a profit and converting them to higher use.
You seem to want to reverse this progression and force the market to build something undesired, which seems odd.
Posted by: anon at June 3, 2013 3:31 PM
The owners of the gas station have been trying to sell it on Craigslist!
Posted by: S at June 5, 2013 4:34 PM
In MLS now for 12 million.
Posted by: formerly%whatever at July 24, 2013 8:15 PM