November 14, 2013
Plans For An Upscale Seven-Story SRO Building On Market Street
Plans to raze the two-story commercial building occupied by Fastframe and a few offices on the northwest corner of Market and Gough and build a 7-story mixed-use building on the parcel has quietly been submitted to San Francisco’s Planning Department for review.
The proposed 75-foot-high building to rise at 1700 Market Street includes 42 "single room occupancy" units which would be market rate but with limited individual kitchen facilities and a communal kitchen, gathering areas, and 1,498 square feet of ground floor retail below.
While the proposed building does not include any off-street parking spaces for autos, it does include a room for 25 bikes. And of course, residents would still be able to apply for permits to park their cars on the street.
First Published: November 14, 2013 1:45 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
NO to more Mid-Market social services. Enough. Hello, Noe Valley?, Presidio Heights, other?
[Editor's Note: As far as we know, these will be market-rate units, not subsidized housing.]
Posted by: invented at November 14, 2013 1:47 PM
I can't read into this if these are efficiency units for young people or SROs?
If market rate efficiency units it is interesting that this is more profitable than building "luxury" condos.
I think market rate efficiency units are a great idea and we need to build many more along with encouragement of family sized units in certain zones that are given special streamlined priority and lower fees.
Posted by: Zig at November 14, 2013 1:51 PM
These are market rate, not "social services".
Also, don't we have another thread with folks claiming that developers never request less parking than is required? Um, for evidence of that being incorrect, I submit this proposal as evidence.
Posted by: anon at November 14, 2013 2:05 PM
[Editor's Note: As far as we know, these will be market-rate units, not subsidized housing.]
My oversight. In that case, I think it's a really interesting format and a new housing type option. Like. Assumed that it was a social svc program which I fully support, but not in this location where the community is working so hard to create a better balance of mixed income.
Posted by: Invented at November 14, 2013 2:08 PM
Perfect for recent, single college grads who don't care about cooking or entertaining at home, don't mind dorm-style amenities, and can walk/bike/Muni to their tech jobs. An interesting approach to housing, basically a boarding house for our new semi-transient but well-paid young workforce.
Posted by: James at November 14, 2013 2:21 PM
Most of the parking around there is metered.
Posted by: Rillion at November 14, 2013 2:22 PM
Do the units have individual bathrooms?
Posted by: WH at November 14, 2013 2:23 PM
Something tells me I might be invoking something distasteful here, but could this be a gambit to get the thing constructed, find out there's no market for efficiencies, then it turns into subsidized SRO after taking some kind of profitable loss? I'm not sure where I'm getting this except that "market rate efficiency apartment" doesn't make any inherent sense to me (it makes theoretical sense, as Zig and Invented touch upon).
Posted by: EH at November 14, 2013 2:28 PM
I think this kind of thing is a good idea, as so much of the pressure on the existing rental property is small groups of "roommates" renting multiple bedroom apartments, not because they necessarily want to but because there is so little alternative. I for one remember the first time I got my "own place" - small as it was and in a not so great area - and I don't think I ever considered living with anyone else again (my wife and kids excluded of course). And if what these prospective tenants want is a place to live with lots of chance to socialize, this will probably provide it as well, as I don't think at a place like this there will be old ladies riding the elevators. And, finally, if the entire tech boom turns out to have been a giant bubble, all the traditional "SF types" can rent them. This one development would do more to ease the housing pressure than the $11 million that 8 Washington was going to give to "affordable housing"
Posted by: Wonkste at November 14, 2013 2:31 PM
What is this - The Bowery in the 1960's...?
(That means "No Fu*king Way.....)
What a terrible idea....
no - as you can see - I don;t like it at all - and since I'm close enough to complain- I intend to....
Posted by: mdg at November 14, 2013 3:14 PM
"but could this be a gambit to get the thing constructed, find out there's no market for efficiencies, then it turns into subsidized SRO after taking some kind of profitable loss?"
I also don't want to go into this, so I'll just say "No" in answer to that question.
Posted by: lyqwyd at November 14, 2013 3:19 PM
EH, market rate efficiencies makes all sorts of sense..nothing conspiratorial about it. Also, not needing to provide parking on these wedge shaped slices along Market Street makes them much more developable.
Posted by: curmudgeon at November 14, 2013 3:19 PM
High end boarding houses for a young, mobile workforce sounds about right. Welcome to the new gold rush.
Posted by: cali at November 14, 2013 3:22 PM
Coming soon.. an extension of the Tenderloin.
Posted by: conifer at November 14, 2013 3:33 PM
Seattle is building quite a few of this type of building.
It seems bizarre that we don't have them in SF, considering our housing shortage and percentage of folks with roommates is an order of magnitude more severe. I hope that allow the market to build these rather than legislating them out of existence as we do with so many other good things.
Posted by: anon at November 14, 2013 3:33 PM
Truly a terrible idea. A quick Band-Aid approach, which solves nothing in the longer term.
About as valid as Scott Weiner's solution to allow in-laws in our neighborhoods as a way to create "affordable" housing. ridiculous.
This could be a taller building, say 10-12 stories with market rate 1-2 bedroom units.
Posted by: Futurist at November 14, 2013 3:35 PM
I don't believe current zoning at this site will allow single room occupancy residential. Market/Octavia zoning calls for 40% 2-br's on all residential construction. Certainly on any market rate construction...
[Editor's Note: From the Planning Department's preliminary review: "The project, as submitted, and the proposed uses are consistent with the [Market-Octavia] plan’s vision for the area." And as far as we know, no red flags have been raised.]
Posted by: whatever at November 14, 2013 3:39 PM
^Yes, more laws! We can make everything illegal if we only try!
Posted by: anon at November 14, 2013 3:39 PM
Whoever is responsible for saving the old street lights like the one pictured....THANK YOU! I am sorry that the iconic street lamps of Van Ness are being removed and not re-installed for the BRT project. These street lights are part of the unique fabric of the city.
As for the new project, the amount of planned construction in the city is exciting and amazing.
Posted by: AnonArch at November 14, 2013 4:01 PM
no no no if SROs. this neighborhood and just South of it into SOMA West has residents that are really trying to make a difference in the ability to live here and raise families. The city and its politics have proven that SROs do noting but bring a city down. Those who end up at an SRO seem to spiral down and never end up doing any better for themselves. every SRO in the city is full of drugs and prostitution.
Posted by: Julie at November 14, 2013 4:10 PM
When I first moved to SF I would have loved a market rate efficiency unit. Living with tyrannical and weird master tenants is not fun. Often cooking and being in common spaces in these arrangements sucks and you are never home anyway
the only "entertaining" you need worry about at that age is getting your guest horizontal. Most won't need a car and can work lower paying local jobs like selling heirloom beans
Posted by: Zig at November 14, 2013 4:15 PM
@Zig - LOL. Thanks for evoking the many happy memories of my life in SF in my 20's, in which my "entertaining" DID mostly consist of getting my delightful guests horizontal.
I didn't even know my apartment had a kitchen....
Posted by: jeremy at November 14, 2013 4:41 PM
Brilliant. Great idea.
Posted by: OMN at November 14, 2013 4:41 PM
Regarding whatever's comment, the Market & Octavia Plan's requirement for at least 40% 2-br's doesn't apply to group housing. If this qualifies as group housing, then 2-br requirement won't apply.
Posted by: Chris at November 14, 2013 4:42 PM
Looks like San Francisco is going to join the rarefied air of a city like London where housing is so expensive this makes sense. These are very popular and rent by the week in London. I lived in one for 3 weeks in Islington (just north of the City) when wrapping up a semester abroad at LSE. The bathroom was a pod-like unit that could be dropped into a small room and hooked up to a basic water supply and drain. I think it was $600 US a week. I
m going to call it right now - This will get shot down by the neighborhood opposition.
Posted by: SF owner at November 14, 2013 5:15 PM
Sounds like a big, fancy frat house
Posted by: MorganDriver at November 14, 2013 5:55 PM
When I moved here many many many years ago (I was 19) I would have loved to have lived in something like this. As long as it has a cooktop (hotplate) and it's own bathroom it would be perfect.
Posted by: wc1 at November 14, 2013 6:09 PM
I'm dying to find out what "market rate" for a room with no kitchen is. Are the comps dorm rooms somewhere ( maybe NYU)?
Posted by: BTinSF at November 14, 2013 6:20 PM
this is perfect for this neighborhood. sorry but it's not a family neighborhood and not everyone here has a family. i'm sure a lot of singles living 5 to a flat would gladly give that up for one of these , freeing up those larger places for families in a neighborhood more appropriate for them
Posted by: S at November 14, 2013 7:00 PM
This makes perfect sense. Cities are places with lots of young people starting out. All cities traditionally had SROs that were respectable, fine places to live. No car. Little furnitue. A good job. No terrible roommates. It just takes good management and will fill an important need.
Posted by: Jim at November 14, 2013 8:37 PM
@BTinSF - there is a new building almost identical to this that recently opened in Seattle (communal kitchens on each floor) with rents going for around $800. So I'd guess that translates to $12-1500 for SF.
Posted by: anon at November 14, 2013 8:43 PM
Good idea. Ignore the naysayers.
Posted by: Mark F. at November 14, 2013 9:10 PM
I live a block away. There are already 3 SF prison release SRO's within a block of this location and personally I don't want to risk this becoming the 4th. Just walk by the civic center hotel any time of day and you'll witness the crime ridden drug infested nightmare it brings to our community.
What if the dorm style market rate thing does not work out? The city takes us a lease and now we have a 4th prison release SRO!
Posted by: Mike Jones at November 15, 2013 8:07 AM
People really need to read ALL the text in the posting before making dumb comments: The proposed units are MARKET RATE, not the subsidized/low income/no income crap that's right across the street from this site. Market rate (Im guessing $80 to $100 a foot per year) efficiencies/SROs are exactly what the market wants and needs right now.
Posted by: PatBurns at November 15, 2013 8:14 AM
What is a prison release SRO? Does the State of California pay for rent for people after they are released from prison or something? That is news to me.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 15, 2013 8:16 AM
Any legal guarantees this will always be market rate?
The other 3 prison release SRO's all started out market rate as well!
Posted by: [Mike Jones] at November 15, 2013 8:17 AM
There is no such thing as an "upscale" SRO. What kind of "upscale" people live in a room without a kitchen? This will very quickly become a place of filth and crime. I would rather live next to a homeless shelter than a seven story SRO.
Posted by: Kyle at November 15, 2013 9:12 AM
@Mike Jones - there is no legal guarantee that mansions in Pac Heights will remain market rate. Things can always change.
I have no idea why there's a worry that this would change, since it's being built as market rate and is NEW. The other buildings that you mention were crumbling and 60+ years old when converted. If more below market rate SROs are needed, the likely conversions are old cheap buildings, not new buildings.
Posted by: anon at November 15, 2013 9:36 AM
There is no such thing as an "upscale" SRO.
Um, yes there is. It's called an extended stay hotel, and there are a lot of them.
And this isn't even an SRO. It's just small studios without full kitchens. This type of thing exists in every major European and Asian city at nearly every price range.
Posted by: anon at November 15, 2013 9:39 AM
This building fills a good niche: fresh college grads who've moved to the city. They're unmarried and don't need much space. They don't cook much so a little fridge and microwave are plenty. If you don't want to pay too much in rent you're either teaming up with one to three others to rent a larger apartment or looking for a compact studio like this.
Speaking of which, whatever happened with Cubix?
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at November 15, 2013 10:11 AM
Cubix is doing just fine. I have a friend who lives there very happily. As you probably recall it was tied up in the bankruptcy of it's owner and was taken back by the bank just as the recession was starting, but then started selling again around 2010 (that's when my friend bought).
Just looked on Redfin...recent sales at Cubix are going for about 350K, 1400/square foot! (admittedly, the square footage is VERY small!) I think this shows how much this product is needed! Instant slum it is not.
Posted by: curmudgeon at November 15, 2013 11:01 AM
I have a good friend who rents in Cubix. He commutes to Santa Clara on Caltrain most days that he's there, but is also sent overseas frequently as part of his job. He's got the best of all possible worlds - a portable lifestyle and an awesome space with a really cool outdoor roof deck. It's just small - including the refrigerator - but who cares about that, Wholefoods is like a giant personal fridge for him.
If I were just starting out or spent half the year in Asia, I'd far rather live there than have roommates in a 70 year old victorian.
And that's likely the trick for new SROs. They have to be cool and have some amenities - a public area so when you have 5 people over, there's somewhere to go and maybe a coffee shop downstairs for the same reason, a laundry service closet so things can be sent out easily, and maybe even a package reception locker (hey, these things exist now). Basically, they have to acknowledge that they are dealing with young college age professionals who are aspirational, not people who are down on their luck. Cubix got that mostly right.
Posted by: frog at November 15, 2013 11:46 AM
Mansions do sometimes become cheap rooming houses. Read Raymond Chandler on the old Bunker Hill in LA: http://shamustown.com/quotes.html
Posted by: Martha Bridegam at November 15, 2013 12:35 PM
frog, i don't feel the "best of all possible worlds" situation you describe your friend as having. he's in asia for 6 months but paying probably the highest $/square foot in rent by renting the smallest possible units in downtown sf; then when he is back here working, he spends an hour plus each way commuting; after a long workday, he has to travel 50 miles to come home to a tiny studio box only to want to get to bed asap.
Posted by: condoshopper at November 15, 2013 1:00 PM
The problem is that for certain industries, in this case semiconductor machinery, there is no chance of them ever moving to SF, or for that matter, moving north of sunnyvale. Some skill sets will never be in high demand inside of a city. I shouldn't have said "best of all possible worlds," but it does allow a lifestyle maximization of sorts. Besides, he commutes only 2-3 days a week when he's here and works the rest from home or a coffee shop or maybe a shared workspace. I frequently spend almost as much time as him taking transit because the T line is broken a lot - for a 3 mile commute. But that's a different complaint.
Posted by: frog at November 15, 2013 1:57 PM
Market Street is a main thoroughfare in the City; seven stories is too short! Wow, talk about wasted opportunity.
Posted by: Joel V at November 18, 2013 11:19 AM
Posted by: SocketSite at December 6, 2013 1:25 PM