950 Gough Site

The designs for an eight-story building with 95 condos over a 10,000-square-foot church to rise on the southeast corner of Gough and Eddy are one step closer to being blessed by Planning as the environmental review for the project has been completed and no red flags have been raised.

A fire destroyed the ornate St. Paulus Evangelical Lutheran Church which had stood upon the 950 Gough Street site until 1995, and Maracor Development has been shepherding the development plans for the parcel, which the Church quietly placed on the market last year, through Planning over the past few years.

St. Paulus Church

The parcel most recently served as home to the Hayes Valley Free Farm which has since closed.

In addition to the replacement church and condos, the proposed development include a two-level parking garage for 61 cars, which is 34 fewer than the minimum of one space per dwelling unit as is required for the site by San Francisco’s Planning Code.  The application for a variance to allow the project to move forward as proposed is now in the hands of Planning.

If the estimated $30 million project is approved and construction commences this winter, 950 Gough would be ready for occupancy by the summer of 2017.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Ben

    The design looks lovely and so unique.

    That was sarcasm.

  2. Posted by Cody

    When the church burned the city lost a great architectural gem. If I remember correctly it was a 1/6 scale of a church in France.

    So glad to see that hole filled after too many years.

    • Posted by Hunter

      It’s pretty tragic, but after all these years, I don’t think this area really needs another church (especially in a boring glass box). The park really needs a few retail establishments to boost its use – a cafe / coffeeshop would do great on this corner.

    • Posted by missiondweller

      Looks like Chartres Cathedral, I was told the 2 towers were different architectural styles because they were built so many years apart.

  3. Posted by Conifer

    The builder should be told to design a Gothic revival building to honor the lost church, instead of this hack job.

    • Posted by PishPosh

      You want to pay for the additional cost of designing such a building? Or figure out how much to raise the condo prices to pay for it?

      • Posted by Mark

        Sell me on your logic. I’m in the planning stages of building my own home. I read it as it would be so much cheaper to build a boring box than a craftsman.

        • Posted by mottled

          If you think the economies of scale are comparable between a personal residence (craftsman or not) and a 95 unit building (contemporary or Gothic), you really do need to buy some logic.

    • Posted by ElitistPig

      Why is the builder obligated to honor anything? Oh, right, they aren;t.

  4. Posted by anon

    Absolutely ridiculous that the zoning for this site requires such excessive parking. Hopefully planning respects the amount the market is proposing rather than sticking to what the politburo deems “necessary”.

    • Posted by BobN

      Parking for half the residents and none for the church? You think they’re gonna just park on Gough on Sunday mornings? This neighborhood already has a serious parking problem for residents.

      • Posted by anon

        Then the neighborhood should start charging market rate for the street parking. The idea that we should force developers to build more parking than the market desires is socialism of the worst kind.

      • Posted by anon

        The neighborhood should start charging market rate for the parking then. Forcing a developer to subsidize parking that will be used a few hours one day a week is ridiculous.

        • Posted by BobN

          The neighborhood used to have a few off-street parking lots. They’re mostly (if not all) gone now because those poor developers you’re apparently concerned about have made tens of millions of dollars filling them up with buildings….

          • Posted by anon

            Wanting the market to decide how much parking should be built has nothing to do with caring about developers. A properly functioning market is good for everybody. If you want to soak developers, the best way to do it is still allow the market to decide the amount of parking that should be built, then levy a tax on the income of developers.

          • Posted by anon

            And yes, I live in the neighborhood. Parking is not bad at all, but charging market rate for parking would make it even less bad.

          • Posted by BobN

            What does “let the market decide” even mean?

            Does the City survey new condo buyers, say a year after purchase, to see how many vehicles/unit the development brought into the ‘hood and charge the developer a fee to produce the parking he neglected to build?

            The last time I checked, when we lost our spot, the going rate in this area is $350 to $400 for an indoor spot. That translates to a mortgage on about $75,000.

  5. Posted by cfb

    The building looks fine. Not everything is going to be an architectural masterpiece. Could be a lot better, could be way worse. We need housing, so let’s build it before too many NIMBYs notice and flip their lids about it being too tall or whatever.

  6. Posted by Mark

    Yeah, the Soviets said the same thing with their concrete masterpieces. It could be worse (gulag) or much better (estates of senior Politburo members). It’s amazing what people in this town will settle for just to get more luxury condo development that’s unattainable for only a certain percent of the population.

    • Posted by frog

      It’s not luxury. It’s the same kind of development that’s happening everywhere in this country. But all market rate development in this city is going to be expensive because this is an expensive city. Take the same building and put it in Detroit and it would cost much less to build and much less to own. There’s really not much anyone can do about that, short of building hundreds of thousands of more housing units.

      • Posted by Mark

        “luxury” and “condo” go hand in hand in real estate marketing, regardless of the quality of materials that are used.

        • Posted by frog

          I’ve seen a trailer park named Brentwood. Marketing is marketing. I’m not sure we are having a real conversation. How are people supposed to live in a structure and pay for common maintenance? Condo, co-op, or TIC? The last one doesn’t really work in large structures.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Thank you!

      This is directly analogous to the Soviet Union!

  7. Posted by Emo

    This church was stunning, you can catch a glimpse of it in Vertigo. Glad to see it’s finally being developed.

  8. Posted by Sutro_Tower

    Welp, nothing to see here! A filler building to be consumed in passing at the speed of cars zipping down Gough. No more, no less. Pedestrians walking downhill will love the blank wall. The relationship to the park across the street is also a missed opportunity. Too bad. Not saying we could (or should) rebuild the old church that stood there but at least make an effort to be a good supporting contextual character for the area.

    • Posted by ElitistPig

      I think your blank wall on Gough is actually glazing.

      • Posted by Sutro_Tower

        Yes that may be the material, and? it could also be perforated metal screen for the parking garage. Hard to tell from a purposely vague elevation. It still acts as a blank wall that does nothing for the street level experience. No?

        • Posted by BobN

          It looks to be windows to the Sanctuary (the replacement church), carried from around the corner where the entrance is.

          I’m not sure what else they could have done regarding the park across the street. They’ve put quite a large terrace on top of that wing facing the park.

        • Posted by ElitistPig

          You know… it could be a high-rise issue now that I look at it. That hill is pretty steep (if I remember correctly), I bet if you activated that facade the height measurement would trigger high-rise requirements. I get what you are saying though, but I can’t read the floor elevations to be sure.

    • Posted by Orland

      These renderings are pretty horrific. If you go to the website of Perry Architects, there are drawings which give you a much better idea of what the complex would look like though, even there, the western elevation along Gough St. is not well defined.

      [Editor’s Note: Since updated above.]

      • Posted by Orland

        The other interesting thing about that website is that it contains by far the most detailed renderings of the joint Related/City SF project on the Goodwill site at 10 S Van Ness though I don’t see anywhere that Perry are the designated architects.

        [Editor’s Note: 10 South Van Ness is the San Francisco Honda site, not the Goodwill parcel. The renderings on the Perry Architects site are from when Steve Perry was a principal at Brand + Allen Architects and are about a decade old.]

  9. Posted by Memo-san

    This building looks like an extension of the crosswalk on the street. Ugly.

  10. Posted by Memo-san

    Wow and that church was beautiful. What a goddamn shame that this is what will take its place.

    • Posted by cfb

      It’s not taking the church’s place. The church burned down decades ago…this building is taking the place of an empty lot. Which is the opposite of a “goddamn shame”. More like “goddamn finally”.

  11. Posted by wonkster

    Something must be changing around here. This post has been up for hours and no one has yet said “Build it higher!” or “Build it right now!”….

    • Posted by Memo-san

      Because it’s terrible. “Don’t build that!”

  12. Posted by sassyboyfrisco

    Let’s get the building party started already!!!
    it’s been vacant 20+years!!!

  13. Posted by Flash

    I support this development, but it’s still terribly sad to look at the renderings compared to the irreplaceable architectural gem there before. I’m really surprised that they’re requesting a variance for LESS parking. It’s fine with me, but I expect parking around there to only get harder and spaces to become scarcer and more valuable. And they could allow residents without a car to use the spaces as storage lockers instead.

    • Posted by Flash

      Or they could allow residents to lease out their parking spaces to others (on a long term basis, not hourly). There are many ways that even non-car-owners can use or monetize parking spaces if the CC&R’s allow. Plus, where are churchgoers supposed to park? Put on their finest Sunday clothes and bike there?

      Again, I’m kind of glad they’re doing this since it should reduce transit congestion for all of us as fewer residents will choose to have cars. I’m just surprised is all.

  14. Posted by moto mayhem

    it is indeed ugly, and also too squat. this seems like a good place to build higher.

  15. Posted by Kevin

    Wasn’t that the church in the Greg Khin Band’s music video “Our love’s in jeopordy”?

    • Posted by Rich Kirkham

      Actually, the church in the Greg Kihn Band video is St Matthew’s Lutheran Church at 16th and Dolores Street. You can see Mission Dolores in the background, which is across the street from St Matthew’s.

  16. Posted by jlasf

    This design seems just plain lazy. Don’t architects have any imagination? And the response should not be that it’s the site or the zoning. Look at the Marlowe. Similar type of site, but done with imagination. http://ww3.hdnux.com/photos/30/12/65/6335862/3/920×920.jpg

    • Posted by Orland

      FWIW this site is nothing like that of the Marlowe.

  17. Posted by Sassy

    Seeing the picture of the original church makes me sad it is gone. What a knock out!

  18. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    Maybe God doesn’t want a church in this location. Why would he have burned the old one if he did?

    Well, you either believe that stuff or you don’t.

  19. Posted by anontoo

    Handsome building. Not as loud and clumsy as others trying to be unique. The base is a good start at the street, working its way down hill, but I hope it develops with more detail. Will the client stomach a bit of investment to see the base go beyond a metal panel and glass wall?

  20. Posted by Zugamenzia Farnsworth

    it is a tad bland overall aesthetically. some of the new construction reminds me of the 60’s through 70’s, when many presentable things were erected of a similar nature (some way tall), and they were very smart, even trendy designs for their time, and virtually all of them aged really, really badly, and or look forlorn and monotonous now. the designers could at least throw on some color, or something: anything. cathedral hill, where ugly buildings go to die, is a perfect example of what bad, dated modern looks like (with a few exceptions).

  21. Posted by Dave

    Another institutional, no imagination design. Someone above said they can’t all be architectural masterpieces. OK, how about a few being so. Virtually nothing imaginative or appealing is being build in SF.

    This build to the sidewalk line only degrades the street experience further. Cold, uninviting sidewalks with blank walls fronting the sidewalk.

    This is not hard – look at medium sized projects being done in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. The requirement for greenbelts, no building to the lot line at ever corner of the building, fountains, statues. What a shame SF can’t get even a little of that type of new construction.

    • Posted by BobN

      The “blank wall facing the sidewalk” is only about 1/3 of the Gough frontage, and it’s covering what’s almost certainly parking or utilities.

  22. Posted by BTinSF

    Many of the comments here represent part of the reason housing is unaffordable in San Francisco. Developers are criticized for just building basic livable housing. It has to be “Gothic revival” for gosh sakes or it has to meet all sorts of individual fantasies. Scr*w all that. This was a special church but the location, on busy Gough St. is nothing special–just build it (with as many units as possible) and add to the housing stock.

    • Posted by sassyboyfrisco

      well said!

    • Posted by Dave

      So how come Portland Oregon has housing costs 50% lower than SF but has far more attractive and liveable residential developments. Which the locals demand up there.

      Seattle is pricey but about 20% less so than SF and it has far more imaginative and attractive residential developments too. Or Memphis which is cheaper than Portland even and manages quality architecture.

      Its not only San Franciscans who demand quality architecture. Though it seems to be San Franciscans are the only ones who don’t get it.

      • Posted by cfb

        “So how come Portland Oregon has housing costs 50% lower than SF but has far more attractive and liveable residential developments. Which the locals demand up there.”

        Because they have fewer NIMBY restrictions causing them to design boring and/or under-built crap in order to get it approved, and in order to save money due to the much higher costs of land and construction in SF.

      • Posted by cfb

        “So how come Portland Oregon has housing costs 50% lower than SF but has far more attractive and liveable residential developments. Which the locals demand up there.”

        Because they have fewer NIMBY restrictions and the cost of land and construction is cheaper. In SF developers have extra NIMBYish rules to follow that cause them to design boring and/or under-built crap in order to get it approved, and in order to save money due to the much higher costs of land and construction in SF.

    • Posted by Futurist

      That’s exactly why I keep saying that architects and developers do NOT care what the public thinks about design and design expression. They don’t have to cater to every personal whim and fantasy about urban architectural design.

      And I’m glad we don’t.

  23. Posted by Jon Schwark

    I want ten more stories on the tower. This is a waste of space. There are already tall buildings on Catherdral Hill a block away.

  24. Posted by Lannister

    Will you cut it out about the church? Churches are empty buildings 95% of the time. And most SF residents of today never saw anything there but an empty lot.

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