September 9, 2013
New Homes, Not A Park, Likely To Rise On Decaying Portola Block
Owned by the Garibaldi family since the 1920's, while some neighbors had been hoping the Portola neighborhood land upon which the decaying greenhouses of the old University Mound Nursery sit would be turned into a public park, the entire 2.2 acre block is now on the market for $12 million.
As zoned, the San Francisco block which is bounded by Woolsey, Hamilton, Wayland, and Bowdoin streets and is adjacent to the University Mound reservoir could support the development of up to 34 new single family homes with heights of up to 40 feet.
First Published: September 9, 2013 9:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
34 Single family homes in this sunny neighborhood would be awesome. Some could have really nice views from the upper level.
The second largest park in SF, Mc Laren, is a couple of blocks away so I don't see the need for more parks. Also, Palega Rec Center is opening a few blocks away so the neighborhood is not underserved on open rec space.
Posted by: Jahoda at September 9, 2013 10:22 AM
I'm seriously not trying to be a "build taller" mockingbird, but when a full block is developed it is a great chance to create greater density while preserving the neighborhood feel. This is generally done by matching heights at the edges where it meets the legacy homes and stepping up towards the middle.
I'll kind of miss that old decrepit greenhouse though redevelopment is the only realistic outcome here.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 9, 2013 12:07 PM
With a 40 foot height limit, there could be 68 units instead. Each 4 story building could be 2 two-story units. The lower unit gets the yard. The upper unit gets a roof deck. The city gets more housing at a somewhat lower price point.
Posted by: Dan at September 9, 2013 12:56 PM
I suspect the comments above are from people who live outside the Portola. While turning this parcel into a park may be unrealistic, it would be wrong to inflict cheap high-density housing on an outlying area with limited public transportation and increasingly difficult parking. This is an opportunity to build something wonderful and unique, like a green co-housing community, and hopefully we can avoid the construction of undistinguished cookie-cutter housing that most profit-oriented developers build.
Posted by: Barbara at September 9, 2013 1:19 PM
Agree that this block should be developed as SFR to blend in with the surroundings. As it is not on a major corridor, high density housing would not be appropriate for this block.
Posted by: patrick at September 9, 2013 1:24 PM
Two units per full size lot is not high density, and wouldn't necessarily be cheap, given the price point for new housing in the city. (A cohousing community would be great, but would require a buyer with $$$ upfront.)
Posted by: Dan at September 9, 2013 2:43 PM
The only realistic economic housing development at this price would mean every home on the block would go for close to $1 million. How does that help SF's middle class? Meanwhile, this impressive site holds the last remaining historical Portola greenhouses. Complete loss of the site for housing would mean burying the history of the neighborhood. The city and the neighborhood can and should do better.
Posted by: David at September 9, 2013 5:01 PM
I like tall buildings.
But not everywhere. I think one and two story housing makes sense in a residential neighborhood like this.
Posted by: SFRealist at September 9, 2013 6:24 PM
I know this neighborhood well, and I can confidently say it has basically the worst public transportation in the city. Without a car, you're pretty much limited to riding the 54, which goes to City College, or the 8X, which takes 280 to go downtown.
This area is well suited to 1-2 units per parcel, with no less than 1.5 parking spaces per unit.
Posted by: anon at September 9, 2013 7:52 PM
I know this area too (am a fan of Breakfast at Tiffany's) and agree, it's pretty much single-family's-ville. I bet the dev would like to get duplexes out of each lot though. Wonder if a) city will allow it and b) if neighbors would buy off on it.
Here's what would be interesting: developer subdivide it into the 34 lots then sell each off to different buyers. At least you get rid of the cookie cutter look, which I think would suck big time.
Posted by: 49yo hipster at September 9, 2013 11:21 PM
I also think it would make the most sense to subdivide the lots, perhaps leaving a few lots for a community garden. Winners all around.
Posted by: Drew at September 10, 2013 8:27 AM
Having just moved to the Portola, I can see a need for more mixed use; retail, a nice coffee shop, a few small restaurants with housing on the upper levels. The neighborhood has a lot of potential and this location is ideal to start a positive trend.
Posted by: New2Portola at September 16, 2013 12:28 PM