10%20South%20Van%20Ness%20Site.gif

Crescent Heights, developer of the 754-unit mid-market apartment building known as NEMA at Market and Tenth Streets, has acquired the two-story Honda dealership building at the intersection of Market and South Van Ness Ave, according to Bisnow.

Sitting on a prime corner parcel that was partially up-zoned for development up to 400 feet in height as part of San Francisco’s Market & Octavia Plan, an estimated 500 to 700 housing units could be built on the site. As the parcel’s development was envisioned by Brand + Allen in 2007:

10 South Van Ness Massing (Image Source: brandallen.com)

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Pfffttt

    Are these going to also be apartments? Great location. This project will be fantastic for the area.

  2. Posted by Pfffttt

    I will miss the car wash, though.

  3. Posted by JWS

    Extremely exciting.

  4. Posted by lol

    Another high rise project jumps the Van Ness corridor. Very good news.

  5. Posted by d-b

    Where is SF Honda going? SOMA, Bayview?? This was a very convenient location.

  6. Posted by rent or own?

    Will these be rentals or condos? Does the developer decide or does the City?

  7. Posted by matteo

    Crescent Heights is investing huge amounts in housing. Wasn’t The Metropolitan their first residential project in SF?

  8. Posted by Futurist

    Very exciting. such a great location for high rise, high density housing.

  9. Posted by BTinSF

    @ rent or own? The developer decides rental vs condo and sometimes they misjudge the market and build something as condo which they can’t sell, so they end up renting for a few years. NEMA, Crescent Height’s most recent SF project, is rental.
    [Editor's Note: And of course, NEMA was originally designed to be condos: Crescent Heights (1401 Market): No Condos For You! Apartments.]

  10. Posted by curmudgeon

    Right…we won’t know rent/own until the owner proposes a project. This is about site acquisition.
    Also..the comment about the car wash by Pffftt…I think you’re confusing this site with South Van Ness and Mission?

  11. Posted by Pfffttt

    @curmudgeon: I think you’re right; I have this intersection confused with the Mission and South Van Ness one. Glad to still have the car wash then. :)

  12. Posted by JWS

    @Pfffttt – For now…haha.

  13. Posted by JB10

    If it is anything like the awful NEMA building it will be another big ugly tall building. Apart from their appearance:
    1) tall buildings are exacerbating the wind tunnel effect on Market St
    2) tall buildings are expensive to build so are not the solution to the affordable housing shortage in SF

  14. Posted by sf

    I really like the current design.

  15. Posted by anon

    tall buildings are expensive to build so are not the solution to the affordable housing shortage in SF
    Exactly! That’s why there are no tall buildings in cities in developing countries. Oh wait.

  16. Posted by Pfffttt

    “tall buildings are expensive to build so are not the solution to the affordable housing shortage in SF”
    Again, there is no such thing as a “shortage of affordable housing in SF.” If one can’t afford SF, then one ought to look elsewhere that one can afford. Developers are in it to turn a profit, not to ensure affordable housing for all those who can’t afford to live/purchase a home in SF–or anywhere else, for that matter. Housing is priced at what the local market will bear. Let’s just stop this Peter Pan mentality, please.

  17. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I was just looking at this building last week with a friend, wondering when it was going to get developed. It is a crime to have such a low intensity use building on the corner of Van Ness and Market.
    Now when is someone going to tackle the challenging parcel across the street?

  18. Posted by Joseph A

    The 500+ rental units might be expensive but at least they will take a tiny amount of pressure off of the balance of housing in San Francisco ,
    As for the other potential sites , both Goodwill, and the SFMT are making their location available to bids ,

  19. Posted by Alai

    By that standard, there can never be a shortage of affordable housing anywhere, even if you have half the population living 6 to a room.
    Fact is that we have a lot of policies which inflate the cost of housing. Maybe some are worthwhile, but they need to be justified.

  20. Posted by Desert_Guy

    Sounds like another business will be leaving the city. Not good.

  21. Posted by anon

    ^Considering the number of new businesses moving in (as evidenced by all of the office construction, skyrocketing lease rates, and occupancy levels), I’d say that it’s a good thing that some businesses are leaving.
    Natural sorting of high value businesses coming in, low value businesses leaving, with their former properties being redeveloped into higher value uses.
    Win-win-win.

  22. Posted by Peej

    In cities like Buenos Aires they have car dealerships and gas stations in the bottom of high rises. Not saying it would happen, but no real reason it’s couldn’t still be a Honda dealership.

  23. Posted by Futurist

    @ Pfffttt:
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for saying what I keep saying here, as well.
    There is no shortage of affordable housing here.
    If you can’t afford to live here, then move where you can.

  24. Posted by Sausalito_res

    @Futurist
    If you think this City can run without the help of people who hold lower paid jobs, think again. Don’t expect people to take BART from Antioch for the privilege of serving you a cup of coffee. Great cities have a texture of different cultures, ideas, and income levels.
    There are people in San Francisco who have never lived anywhere else. Their friends, family, jobs, and entire lives are here. It should be possible for people of various means, and with willingness to live simply, to remain in San Francisco. Show some community mindedness and some compassion.
    Or maybe we can turn San Francisco into a gated community and put up a sign that says “No Poors Allowed”.

  25. Posted by Sausalito_res

    @ Futurist said “There is no shortage of affordable housing here.”
    That is an assertion without any support. And it depends on your definition of “affordable”.
    A craigslist search based on a maximum rent of $1,000 reveals fewer than 10 possibilities. This includes, SROs, 100 square foot “microstudios”, and a lottery unit in NEMA.
    If your budget is as high as $1,500 there are more possibilities.
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/4445081597.html

  26. Posted by Sausalito_res

    @pfffttt said: “Developers are in it to turn a profit, not to ensure affordable housing for all those who can’t afford to live/purchase a home in SF–or anywhere else, for that matter. Housing is priced at what the local market will bear.”
    Embedded in this ode to the “free market” is that the city exists solely for the benefit of developers. All of the schools, roads, utilities, and parks (which are paid by property owners, and indirectly by tenants through their rent payments) are merely infrastructure to support private profit-making.
    I agree that developers are primarily in the business of making a profit (although a public ethic should be part of that calculus). It is the job of government to make sure that the community doesn’t get the short-end of the stick.
    Developers will take their business wherever the opportunity is. We are rebuilding large areas of the city and San Francisco has one opportunity to not to screw this up.

  27. Posted by Futurist

    Laughable coming from Sausalito_res. Assuming your name means WHERE you live, in a charming, bucolic and VERY expensive little tourist trap. Is Sausalito “affordable” to anyone but very well off people?
    I have plenty of compassion for the long time families and their children and grandchildren who have been here a long time. Sure it may be tough, but education leading to a good job is part of the solution, not the ONLY answer. And they need to figure out ways to continue to live here and afford here.
    But I zero compassion for the newbies coming here without a high income who whine and complain because they cannot afford to live in the Dolores/Valencia/Castro corridor.
    And I have zero compassion for those (some I know) who make well over 6 figures +, living in their $950/mo 2 bed, rent controlled unit in Upper Market and whine about the cost of living here.

  28. Posted by anon

    I’ll agree with Futurist on this one.
    Also, there’s no reason to believe that people serving a cup of coffee will commute in from Antioch or whatever. They’ll continue to do what they do now – get roommates.
    When I was young and straight out of school, I lived in the Inner Richmond with three roommates. Not ideal, but much, much cheaper than trying to get a place on my own in Antioch and commuting in.

  29. Posted by anon

    In other words, “affordable” does not mean a place that you get to live without having to deal with anyone else. When did that become expected? It just sounds incredibly entitled to even my 34 year old ears.

  30. Posted by Futurist

    Oh my. anon actually agreeing with me.:)
    Maybe we’ll become BFF’s. or not.
    But yea, makes sense what you say. I’ll admit the entire “affordable” issue is complicated. It means different things to different people.
    I don’t necessarily have answers, but I stick with my belief that not everyone who wants to live here can afford to do so. And it be probably be that way for a long time. We all make choices.

  31. Posted by Sausalito_res

    @Futurist,
    As it happens, Sausalito is quite a bit more diverse than our neighboring towns of Mill Valley, Tiburon, and Belvedere. If I might speak for other residents here, we prefer it that way.
    Slightly more households here are getting by on less than $35K (18.5%) as are making more than $200,000 (17.4%). About 44% of households make less than $50K. And we have a billionaire in our midst.
    Nearly half of all housing units in the city are rentals and we have a variety of housing types (Single-family, small apartment houses, larger rental complexes, condos, houseboats, live-aboards, in-laws/single-room rentals).
    Lots of long-time Sausalitans, not all of whom are wealthy. Not to be a Pangloss, but you will frequently find residents of all income levels mingling at the summer Jazz concerts, local bars and restaurants, and the Bridgeway Gym.
    And we have zoning laws to protect the traditional light-industrial/maritime neighborhood, home to a long-time community of artists.
    It is very possible to live here in “genteel poverty”…On second thought, this place sucks. People should stay away!

  32. Posted by Sausalito_res

    Correction to my comment of 12:37
    44% earn less than $75K. 33% earn less than $50K.

  33. Posted by Able Dart

    So does this mean that Roger Boas is finally going away?

  34. Posted by MuniLOL

    Nice. Hundreds more people to be left stranded on the inbound Van Ness platform at rush hour, watching full train after train roll by.

  35. Posted by Pfffttt

    @Alai: “By that standard, there can never be a shortage of affordable housing anywhere, even if you have half the population living 6 to a room.”
    I don’t see Menlo Park/Atherton, Hillsborough, Newport Beach, Ross or Los Altos going out of their way to force developers to build “affordable housing.” Hillsborough doesn’t even allow businesses in their town, because they don’t want “outsiders” to even pass through their ‘hood. SF is far from being like one of these affluent cities. Even if SF were to become like them, what’s wrong with that?
    I’ve worked hard all my life and made the sacrifices I’ve made to be able to afford to purchase a home here in SF. Never did I feel entitled to live here. I’ve earned that right. I expect others who want the same to do the same.

  36. Posted by Jill

    I lived with 5 people from age 22-26, 3 people from 27-30, 2 people 30-32 and then got married. We bought our 1st condo at 34. I lived cheap and saved a lot of money.

  37. Posted by Sausalito_res

    Shorter pfffttt:
    “I got mine Jack.”
    I’ve been reading this blog since 2006 as it is a good source of information about real estate markets. And some of the commenters are well-informed about the markets.
    But, over the last few years I have noticed increasing hostility among the commentariat towards the less well-off among us.
    Part of what makes San Francisco interesting is its “gritty” aspects, going all the way back to the Barbary Coast. San Francisco has always shown appreciation of and tolerance for people following a different path.
    A community needs teachers, sanitary workers, artists, people providing services to the poor, and –yes– baristas. To require people providing these essential services to commute from the outer ring (due to their failure to “earn the right” to live here) is unrealistic and callous.

  38. Posted by Frank C.

    Pfft, you’re missing the point. You live in a region that has dependencies, whether you admit it or not. If you want to close the gates – OK – but recognize that you are ultimately committing to a few inevitable outcomes, although it may take time for them to happen: 1) economic stagnation – without both residential and commercial development, growth will slow and eventually stop, and SF will become (a few decades, maybe) a version of Venice. By then the tech industry will be different in ways we can’t imagine, won’t need to be centralized here, and the rest of the region will pick up the slack, probably, as will other regions. SF will have lost an opportunity to stay on top. The current situation is not permanent – nothing is.
    2) You will force more commuting, and therefore more traffic and more pollution – which will make this a less desireable place – this will happen more quickly. “Close the gate” folks are never advocates for for improved transit. In the end, an SF that grows more and grows well will become more valuable to you and everyone – you’d have a home that would be more immune to bubbly changes values. Some day you’ll need to sell your home – and wouldn’t it be nice to not be in a down cycle when that happens. If the city stays on your path, it’s more likely.

  39. Posted by Zig

    The mentality of transplants like Pffttt stinks

  40. Posted by Pfffttt

    The mentality of transplants like Pffttt stinks.
    So being an SF “native” “entitles” one to live here? Pfffttt. Exactly.
    The SF entitlement mentality stinks.

  41. Posted by Futurist

    I’m down with Pfffttt all the way.
    I earned mine as well.
    And @ Frank C: well, you’re just fear mongering with no truth. Growth will not stop, but it should be well balanced and not rampant. Nobody is “closing the gates”.
    We just want people here who will contribute and not crash the gates, cause they think it’s a cool place to live.

  42. Posted by Jake

    Perhaps there should be a means test to live in SF.
    If you are mean enough you can live here.

  43. Posted by Sausalito_res

    As far as I know, none of these folks (see link on name) had “earned the right” to live in San Francisco but San Francisco welcomed them and was a better place for having done so. I hope that none of them developed an arriviste entitlement mentality in later life.
    The “Voice and Conscience” of San Francisco is spinning in his grave.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herb_Caen

  44. Posted by MuniLOL

    Mandating “affordable housing” on developers may help some, but it seems to be lost on people that it hurts others. For example, even fewer middle class individuals can afford The City, since to offset the cost of providing affordable housing, market-rate housing becomes harder to build (contributing to a shortage) and/or more expensive and unattainable.
    Same policies like rent control that ultimately hurt the people you should most want to help.

  45. Posted by Sausalito_res

    @MuniLOL
    I’m not convinced that affordable housing mandates at current levels raise the price of market-rate housing. Market prices are determined by the intersection of supply and demand curves. Developers are already extracting the highest prices that buyers will pay. The fact that developers are willing to supply thousands of rental units to the market on every available site suggests that the City may not be driving a hard-enough bargain. Developers cutting back on the quantity of units supplied would be evidence that affordable housing mandates *might* be too high.
    What we don’t know is whether increased mandates for affordable housing would cause developers to withhold units at the margin, or if they would be willing to accept a skinnier profit margin. Given that this is one of the most favored development markets in the US, it seems likely that mandates could be slightly to somewhat higher without affecting prices.
    In the private sector, savvy marketers test their pricing to determine the resistance points.
    Likewise, the existence of rent control wasn’t enough to keep owners of these buildings from investing in the first place. It only became unacceptable to them after they became owners and surging market rents increased the opportunity cost…To some degree, owners of rent-controlled units may be under-maintaining their properties. But I suspect that a lot of tenants benefiting from rent control are happy to make that trade.

  46. Posted by parklife

    Sausalito_res,
    You are correct that market rates are independent of the provision of affordable housing. However, a developer is going to be unwilling to build anything but “luxury” units if they are saddled with the additional cost of providing affordable housing. If we are going to insist that developers provide affordable housing as part of any development, shouldn’t the mandate be on some sort of a sliding scale? It seems there is no incentive to build anything but high end units.
    I would also take exception to your characterization that “To some degree, owners of rent-controlled units may be under-maintaining their properties”. Please take a walk through various streets in the Richmond district (easily accessible from Sausalito) and you can see the damage both rent control and prop 13 have done to the housing stock. It may be an acceptable trade for long term owners and long term renters but it does irreversible harm to the housing stock of the city.

  47. Posted by Jake

    parklife,
    Your second point is supported by the results of removing rent control in Cambridge, MA. There is a detailed econ analysis NBER published (pdf at namelink). One of the findings was that “more than half of the capitalized cost of rent control was
    borne by owners of never-controlled properties.”
    The paper is a bit long, but there is a fair one page summary (link below) which concludes with:
    “it seems to me like the way to think about rent control–at least in the form that it was enacted in Cambridge, Mass.– is that it creates a situation of low-quality and poorly-maintained housing stock, which then rents for less than uncontrolled properties.

    But when rent control is enacted in a way that leads to degradation of a substantial portion of the housing stock, the costs are not just carried by landlords of those rent-controlled apartments. In fact, a majority of the costs may be as a result of spillover effects to real estate that isn’t rent-controlled. When a substantial proportion of the houses in a neighborhood are not well-maintained, everyone’s housing prices will suffer.”
    http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2012/10/when-rent-control-ended-in-cambridge.html

  48. Posted by Sausalito_res

    Parklife/Jake,
    I don’t have time now to read the material linked (will do so tonight). I see how it would be possible that under-maintained rent-controlled properties could potentially cause a degradation of entire neighborhoods. I haven’t noticed that effect in the “better” neighborhoods (e.g. Russian Hill, Marina/Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights) but would be ready to concede that it is likely in lower-priced areas.
    With respect to affordable housing mandates on new construction, I’m not necessarily arguing for higher fees although I think it is unlikely that they are “too high” at current levels. Developers are already building as much “luxury” housing as they can given the availability of appropriate sites (not much land in the NE quadrant of the city).
    To the extent that more development capital is available than can be deployed in “luxury” projects, that capital moves down to lower-priced product. Given that nearly all land sales (for luxury and non-luxury product) sell with highly competitive bidding, the amount of new housing seems to be constrained more by land scarcity than by capital scarcity.
    My larger point is that a developer’s profit motive has a shorter horizon than the goals of building a better city for the people who live here (including those who don’t live here yet). We are setting the framework for what large parts of the city are going to look like for the next 50 or 100 years and we need to get it right. An example of a bad planning mistake is the elevated freeways that ran through our neighborhoods and waterfront. It took a major earthquake to fix that one.

  49. Posted by Cody

    The BART tunnel is under the property which will make it more expensive to build on the site. If one goes to the corner of Colton & Colusa streets behind the property you can see an air shaft over the BART tunnel in a parking lot – note the barbed wire on the fence. Trains can be heard traveling though the tunnel there.

  50. Posted by MJT

    Anyway…..getting back to the Honda Dealship….
    Great news for the corner of Market and Van Ness! The renderings look very nice. A fantastic addition to the neighborhood!

  51. Posted by David

    Given your penchant for the phrase (usage now in the thousands at your site), I am surprised that the article doesn’t say “And yes, this is the site of the former Fillmore West” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fillmore_West

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