119 7th Street site

Plans for an eight-story SoMa building with 39 condos over two ground floor retail spaces at the corner of Seventh and Minna are slated to be approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission this week.

119 7th Street Design

Currently the site of a 27-space parking lot, the proposed 119 7th Street development would rise 85-feet in height with outdoor space atop the building and over the entrance to the underground garage.

119 7th Street Aerial

As designed by Architecture International for Portland-based American Pacific International Capital, the project includes 22 one-bedrooms and 17 two’s with parking for 24 cars and 46 bikes.  The units would average 891 square feet apiece and take about two years to complete.

And rather than include any Below Market Rate (BMR) units as part of the project or build eight BMR units off-site, the developers intend to pay a fee of $2,473,220 into the City’s affordable housing fund.

San Francisco’s Planning Department recommends the project be approved as proposed, the lot line windows of the adjacent Hotel Isabel will need to be filled-in if so.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by anon

    This is actually the first SOMA site that I’ve seen west of 3rd St that seems to be appropriately scaled (rather than waaaaaaay too short).

    Cue the “build it lowers” coming in with reasons why this neighborhood will be marred forever with a building this tall.

    • Posted by seriously

      now, now. let’s not start antagonizing.

      i think it looks great. is the garage butting up against the “live love loft apartments” next door?

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        From the 2nd rendering and an aerial / satellite image, it looks like there will still be a ~16-space surface lot between the “Love” apartments and this new building.

  2. Posted by Sierrajeff

    I think it’d be hard to argue this building is inappropriately tall. Though it’s taller than what’s around, it’s not oddly or inappropriately so. The parking seems a reasonable middle ground too – less than car people might have wanted, but more than anti-car people would argue for.

    My only beef, and a minor one, is that there are no 3-bedrooms. I know the current market’s mostly single hipsters and such, but when we recently moved in the City it was really hard finding reasonable 3 (or 2+) bedroom rentals.

  3. Posted by Joseph A

    Given the location thats a great size for the building, well placed near the Court House, Federal Building , and the Tech Offices

  4. Posted by Sam

    That used to be a decently wild little street, (Minna), is it still? I almost never make it out there anymore. But back in my ‘lets go to Tempest!’ days ( a bar), I remember seeing some interesting things.

    • Posted by Serge

      These days Tempest is frequented by the tech crowd. The alley, however, is still seedy.

  5. Posted by OMN

    Build the affordable housing onsite. We need to stop letting developers get off the hook by donating a city fund that may or may not ever be appropriated correctly. But more importantly, we need to create diverse neighborhoods with affordable and market-rate housing in close proximity, rather than creating ghettos and segregation.

    • Posted by invented

      This building is surrounded by low income and all sorts of government housing and is diverse. The area needs more market rate – say no to more low income in this neighborhood as we need to create diverse neighborhoods with affordable and market-rate housing in close proximity.

    • Posted by SFCitizen

      I think your comment regarding inappropriate allocation of the money in the City fund is the first time I’ve read this from a diversity advocate.

    • Posted by Chris

      Condos are not really appropriate for affordable housing. There are many stories of individual who move into an “affordable” condo only to find they cannot afford the HOA fees, and then end up in foreclosure. Affordable units onsite for apartments, yes. For condos, no! It is a trap that is unfair to those who need affordable housing. Also, there is no “ghetto” being created here as there are plenty of below-market units in the immediate surrounding blocks.

      The city needs to take the huge sum of money and either build affordable units itself, or give it to any of the many not-for-profits with experience in building affordable housing. Or, have the Land Trust buy existing units for sale and make them into affordable housing.

    • Posted by R

      I actually live on this block OMN so I tell you it is more diverse than virtually any other block in SF. There are multiple section 8 housing projects next to middle income apartments next to million dollar lofts next to SRO hotels next to 108 year old Edwardian flats filled with multi-generational immigrant families, students, teachers, artists, business owners, and other walks of life. On the same block there are also soup kitchens, shelters, health clinics, a youth center and a community center, yet just a block away you can buy a $5 12oz cup of coffee or a $14 sandwich. The last thing I am is segregated from people of different socioeconomic classes.

  6. Posted by JB10

    How could an 8-storey building fronting a narrow alley like Minna St be thought to gain approval? Just ridiculous. Only the boss-eyed (“it is ugly, build it higher”) could want such an outcome.

    Unquestionably, cities need density, but Inappropriately tall buildings suck life out of the street – see the “Goldilocks” piece by architect Lloyd Alter in the Guardian: Cities need Goldilocks housing density – not too high or low, but just right.

    • Posted by Alex

      @JB10 Thanks for linking to the Guardian article – great read! That being said, this eight-story building is barely three stories taller than the neighboring hotel. This new building is well proportioned to its surroundings.

    • Posted by NoeValleyJim

      This is well done, very thoughtful and aligns with my thinking as well. Thanks!

    • Posted by anon

      The Guardian article makes the point some armchair urban planning amateur “experts” refused to believe in the past which is that very tall residential towers are not “greener” or a better use of natural resources. A huge amount of energy and building space is taken up with structure, mechanical services, and elevators. Very tall buildings also seem to create dead zones at street level because of required emergency access, loading docks, parking ramps, etc.

      My question is why is the population explosion never allowed to be discussed, like it was for my parent’s generation in the 60s and 70s? You could blanket San Francisco in a bunch of towers and never satisfy the current demand for those who would live in the city if they could.

      • Posted by Sonja

        Why do you think demand could never be satisfied? I never understand this position.
        What do you estimate demand to be? The whole United States? 300,000,000 people? No, can’t be. 100,000,000? 1/3 of the whole US? Still sounds unrealistic. 50,000,000?
        Gehead – you pick a number.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        There isn’t a population explosion in a national or statewide sense. There’s currently a demand explosion in SF, and we’re growing significantly, but it’s not based on a population explosion (people having babies…). THAT’s why no one talks about the population explosion anymore…..

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          To be more specific there’s been a reverse migration back to city cores. After decades of post WWII up until the 1990s sprawl into the suburbs now Americans are feeling more comfortable in urban contexts. Some cities like in the Rust Belt are still struggling because there’s no jobs but both coasts are thriving.

          This pressure is exacerbated by NIMBY opposition to increased density in the peripheral cities. For example don’t expect Berkeley to get that downtown high rise project without a fight. If the rest of the Bay Area could produce reasonably urban experiences that would take a lot of pressure off of SF. Things are changing slowly. Downtown San Jose and Oakland have improved for the better in the last 20 years.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          Coincidentally Streetsblog just published this article describing how a real estate consortium has determined that there’s strong demand for growth in walkable areas. And that includes previously suburban locations (see section 4 of the article).

          So SF’s reluctance to grow could be a boon for the surrounding cities more open to urbanize. The jobs are already here. Wake up Mt. View !

  7. Posted by Jim

    Generally, its not the developers who want the BMRs offsite, it is the City. Where do you think the non-profit developers get the money to build their fine 100% affordable developments ? – from the for-profit developers who pay into this fund. If the developers all built on-site, the non-profits would have no money to build with. Further, since affordable housing generally comes with social services today, at least at the lower income levels, it is much more efficient to provide those services en masse, rather than a couple here, a couple there. And, in terms of this project, as has already been stated, this neighborhood is filled with affordable / subsidized units, and needs some market rate units to begin to bring some balance to the neighborhood.

    • Posted by anon

      BMRs of 2014 do not require “social services”. It’s mostly building housing for people making above the national median, not folks anywhere even close to poverty.

      • Posted by kbbl

        As someone alluded to earlier, I really wonder how many truly-middle-class people are able to stomach $400+ a month in HOA dues on a national-median salary. When I do the math, it only seems sustainable if the person has far more wealth than income,

        • Posted by SFCitizen

          kbbl – Agreed. Some have pointed out that asset tests are done on applicants for the BMR program. A BMR applicant won’t qualify if they have too much money in the bank.

          I used to think that the income diversity people had a point about keeping working class individuals in the City. But, then I analyzed the income guidelines for the BMR program and quickly realized that the Starbuck’s barista won’t be getting a BMR apartment or BMR condo. They don’t make enough money. I would be interested to see a job category listing for BMR qualifiers. Are they teachers? Firemen? Tech workers? Just curious.

  8. Posted by Joseph A

    BTW , I get that some people think its silly that San Francisco build so people can live here , but to be honest in some ways they have a point ,
    Because with San Francisco being a 1/5 the size of a NY or Chicago , or a 1/10 the size of Los Angeles , it means that its silly to expect San Francisco to house all the possible non working persons that want to live here.

    What does make sense is that San Francisco attempt to reserve 5% of housing stock for the poor and 5% for the working poor, thats a ratio that can be supported by the rest of city.

    As for those persons that are poor and can not live here there are other nearby cities / towns that if San Francisco were larger would just be another district of the city

  9. Posted by Sonja

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately! I had the same experience. I looked it up: in Philadelphia, where I came here from, 45% of the housing units are 3 bedroom, here in SF, 19%.
    No one is particularly asking developers to build higher bedroom units. I asked one, he said they base units on demand and aren’t opposed to building more bedrooms.

  10. Posted by Chris

    An eight story building would not be considered “very tall” even by 1890’s San Francisco standards, let along 2014. Also, you reference the “Guardian article” with no link, so your reference is neither helpful, nor persuasive. Is the article talking about 100-story buildings or 5-story buildings? What is the science or other studies backing up the articles claims? Has this science/studies been peer-reviewed? Without a link, our off-hand comment to some article you read does not mean much to anyone else.

    And, what population “explosion” are you discussing? And, why do you think there is an infinite demand for housing in SF? Where are the hard facts? Anyone can spout off an unsupported opinion.

  11. Posted by Sonja

    Hi guys – The Planning Commission hearing for this is tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) maybe at 2 pm? It’s hard to know when specific projects will be up. The planning commission is in City Hall, Room 400.
    If you like this project, you can tell that to the Planning Commission in person!
    I have a club that does this: http://www.sfbarf.org

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