December 27, 2013

Plans For 12-Story Building Could Transform A Tenderloin Block

450%20O%27Farrell%20Street%20Facade.jpg

Having been banned from the church for being disruptive, a protester has been stationed outside the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist’s building at 450 O'Farrell Street on a near daily basis for over a year, accusing the Church of having turned a blind eye to the boarded-up property it owns next door, "leaving hard drugs, blight, and homelessness to dominate its state" and surroundings.

450%20O%27Farrell%20Street.jpg

Perhaps due in part to the protesting, but more likely driven by the Mid-Market boom which is spilling over into the Tenderloin, the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist has quietly drawn up plans to raze its columned church and adjacent boarded-up storefronts and construct a twelve-story building in their place, rising 130 feet with 97 individual dwelling units and 74 group housing units over a new 10,000-square-foot church, 6,000 square feet of retail, and 100 parking spaces.

First Published: December 27, 2013 2:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

"74 group housing units" ...

Hmmm... are we talking about hipster techie commune-type housing, or one step removed from homeless shelter housing?

Posted by: Unplugged at December 27, 2013 2:21 PM

Does this thing need 100 parking spaces? It is walking distance from Market St, served directly by the 38 and 27 when not slowed by cars, and surrounded by garages and surface lots within two blocks. O'Farrell, Geary, Jones, and Taylor already get choked by personal car traffic on a daily basis.

Posted by: Jim at December 27, 2013 2:59 PM

No sooner is there a posting about a building with parking than some religious zealot of the Anti-Automoblie Church starts the condemnation. God did not write the AAC bible you know!

Posted by: conifer at December 27, 2013 3:02 PM

I find it irritating that the wall of the adjacent building, which was obviously designed with the expectation that it would be flush against another wall, is left exposed.

Posted by: Alai at December 27, 2013 3:04 PM

And no sooner does someone question the need for parking than someone fires off an ad hominem to smear the writer without addressing the validity of the point itself. The Tenderloin is one of the densest parts of the City and is well-served by transit. Our buses are the slowest in the country because of all the cars. So the question remains: why encourage more people to bring cars to a neighborhood that doesn't need them and would be better without them?

Posted by: Matt at December 27, 2013 3:33 PM

Alai - more than likely the new church's height was designed to preserve the billboard value on the neighboring building (i.e., avoid a lawsuit). That said, I agree 100%.

Also agree that the anti-parking comment is ridiculous - 100 spaces for at least 171 people (depending on what's meant by "group housing") is hardly a surfeit of parking.

What most disturbs me is the church tearing down its nice-looking existing structure. Why can't that be preserved - heck, even if the tower is built over it?

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 27, 2013 3:37 PM

I agree about the loss of the facade. A neoclassical colonnade embiggens the smallest man.

Posted by: James at December 27, 2013 3:48 PM

The city fights to save buildings with far inferior facades than this one, yet they allow this one to be torn down?

Posted by: MoneyMan at December 27, 2013 4:09 PM

^ this hasn't gone through any sort of process, so it's not at all clear that the city won't push for facade retention.

also, as for the parking, it'll really depend on how the final unit mix works out - it's very expensive to build that many stalls underground, so it makes little sense to include unnecessary spots. i'm guessing that the church is looking at those as a long-term investment. there are many off-street garages tucked beneath buildings in the tl.

overall, however, it makes a lot of sense to forego the parking, if they're tied to units - cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain, and tl IS the densest part of town and this site is just minutes to transit (with caltrain about 15 minutes walk after the transbay caltrain extension which will likely be coming online about the same time as this, in 2018-2020.

Posted by: david m at December 27, 2013 4:46 PM

I'm all for it if it includes a statue of Mary Baker Eddy's slip on the ice.

Posted by: EJ at December 27, 2013 5:40 PM

If they want to sell any market rate condos, they will need parking as no one wants to walk through that neighborhood to get to transit

Posted by: Moto mayhem at December 27, 2013 6:31 PM

Aren't churches exempt from design review standards? I seem to recall that being the case.

Posted by: Patrick at December 27, 2013 7:14 PM

the parking may be intended for the congregation coming to the church, and not for the housing. (or some mix of both).
of course, churches can also easily become special event spaces and used for a wide range of activities, so that is a pretty sweet deal if they can get that built with all that parking....

Posted by: BigV at December 28, 2013 10:07 AM

Seems a shame to tear down the existing church and replace it with another one. What is the rationale for this?

Also the planned building is much too tall at 12 storeys. And that much parking is not needed in a transit-rich zone close to Market St. (Cue Mr Toads and development junkies!)


Posted by: JB10 at December 28, 2013 10:32 AM

Right. too tall, a 12-story building would be out of proportion... compared to the 12-story building across the street. Hooray for Google!

Posted by: Adam at December 28, 2013 9:10 PM

Or the 16 story building on the next block...or the 46 story, 500' tall Hilton around the corner...

Posted by: Turin at December 29, 2013 10:18 AM

Stupid yuppies! Always gotta gentrify everything huh? Maybe that earthquake will bring those ivory towers down to earth? Don't deface stuff with effete nonsense towers. Have a Soul. Damn yuppie scum.

Posted by: T.C. at December 29, 2013 1:17 PM

As a charitable person, I choose to believe that the post by T.C. is a joke.
Of course the fact that I have to write this may reflect poorly on my own sense of humor.

Posted by: conifer at December 29, 2013 3:42 PM

I believe the phrase is "die yuppie scum".

Posted by: outtahere at December 29, 2013 6:45 PM

Upzone the Tenderloin and mandate middle-income as well as market rate housing. The Tenderloin can't turnaround with current conservative height limits. Without more mix of housing opportunities, it will remain. It is shocking what passes here. I doubt creating housing here has anything to do with yuppies especially if developer bonuses require middle income housing. Rezone select development sites. Lee needs to take action in his own backyard.

Posted by: Invented at December 29, 2013 7:00 PM

Da Mayor Willie Brown again spoke the truth in his column, relevant to this discussion about the Tenderloin.

"And we have a very politically active cartel of nonprofits that has made it nearly impossible to build affordable housing unless it is built under their direction and targets the extremely poor."

Brown may be not only the grandly dressed old man, but he is fast becoming the grandly shrewdest, speaking truth to the political class who do not want to hear it.

Posted by: conifer at December 29, 2013 10:11 PM

With regard to parking: Our buses are slowest in the country not because of cars but because they stop every 100 feet. We have about 90% "local" routes even on insanely long runs such as the 48 or the 49. This should be more like 50% express buses and the locals still should stop every two at least, rather than every block on most routes as now. The constantly stopped buses in fact are part of what is slowing everyone else down and creating congestion!

Finally as to the TL being "well served by transit" you're assuming that after the walk through the saddest neighborhood ever, your destination is the Mission or East Bay or peninsula suburbs. These are the only places you can get to efficiently--via BART. Aside from that it's going to take you a long time to reach your destination via MUNI. If you are going out in North Beach or the Marina, the Richmond, or most other places, it will take you three times as long as it would in a car. What about groceries? There's no decent grocery in comfortable walking distance. It sucks to try to feed a family with only what you can carry in your hands half an hour on MUNI. I know, I lived in the Outer Sunset without a car.

Furthermore the TL is not congested (except with homeless and poop) - the streets are pretty quiet in most places.

Posted by: anon at December 30, 2013 9:24 AM

@anon: sounds like favorable conditions for bicycles. Flat, little congestion, a bike with saddle bags can adequately service a family of two to four. And there are groceries within a small bike ride.

I know it can be done, I have read several ssers present such facts as the basis for the transit first mandates.

Posted by: contrarian at December 30, 2013 9:56 AM

Jeez, who doesn't have their staple groceries delivered these days? I can't imagine having to deal with driving to the grocery store for weekly trips. Craziness.

Posted by: anon at December 30, 2013 10:15 AM

If you think the TL is flat, you've never tried to move through it N-S.

And I love the "transit first" mentality that *if* it can be done (e.g., trying to sustain a family of 4 by biking with saddlebags to the nearest supermarket) - by someone who anyone would have to admit is on the bleeding edge of self-sufficient commuting - therefore this is now the gold standard by which all others must function, irrespective of their own unique circumstances and needs.

Posted by: Sierrajeff at December 30, 2013 10:48 AM

Agreed that bike commuting for groceries is ludicrous. That said, any type of commuting for groceries is ludicrous these days, other than very specific fresh ingredients or last minute ingredients. Anyone who is buying flour or dog food or anything canned or any other known daily/weekly staple (milk, etc) and bringing it home in a car is doing it wrong though. Delivery options are so easy now, I can't imagine why you wouldn't do that in any neighborhood, but especially a place where driving is such a chore.

Posted by: anon at December 30, 2013 12:47 PM

"anon" should be appointed chief director of how to avoid ludicrous living by the City and County. His principal advisors will be Campos and Daly, with frequent consultation with Peskin.

Under this triumvirate of wisdom, implemented by "anon" we will live the happy lives meant for the People of the Republic.

What more could we ask for in 2014?

Posted by: conifer at December 30, 2013 1:38 PM

I'm not sure what your point is, conifer, I wasn't commenting on the building at all. I'd much prefer the market be used to determine the amount of parking needed, but whatever.

I was just commenting that it seems absurd to me that people haven't figured out that grocery stores suck to get in and out of (on feet, in a car, whatever). For stuff that you don't need to look at, why in the world put yourself through that agony? Should I go wait at the Giants box office to buy tickets to baseball games too?

Posted by: anon at December 30, 2013 1:41 PM

"Should I go wait at the Giants box office to buy tickets to baseball games too?"

No, you can just have the game delivered to you on your TV. Why ever leave the house?

Posted by: Rillion at December 30, 2013 3:07 PM

I'm with anon on this one. I can't for the life of me figure out why people would drive, park, spend time picking out items like pasta and milk, wait on the checkout line, then drive home when all that can be ordered online and delivered.

Posted by: Fishchum at December 30, 2013 3:20 PM

1. The tenderloin is dense enough, obviously, to support convenient supermarkets in walking distance. If they don't exist today, I suspect they will in a few years.

You all realize that there already are plenty of families of four who manage to get their groceries without a car, right?

Other options include wheeling them in a granny cart or putting them in a taxi -- there are multiple supermarkets you can get from for well under $10. I'm amazed at people who insist that it's vital to spend tens of thousands of dollars on constructing a parking space, plus tens of thousands on buying and maintaining an automobile, because spending $10 a week on taxis is out of the question.

2. Going to the Richmond? And just where are you going to park in the Richmond? Or is the next step to insist that people in the Richmond should build more parking--at their own or public expense, natch-- for people driving in from the Tenderloin?

Posted by: Alai at December 30, 2013 5:11 PM

"And we have a very politically active cartel of nonprofits that has made it nearly impossible to build affordable housing unless it is built under their direction and targets the extremely poor."

Can we find out exactly who these nonprofits are? I want to be sure to avoid them in my year-end charitable giving.

Posted by: MarketSt at December 30, 2013 6:55 PM

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