655 Folsom Street Site

Having been on the boards for a couple of years, the formal application to raze the two-story Canton Seafood & Dim sum restaurant at 655 Folsom and construct a 14-story building, with 84 condos over 2,000 feet of commercial space and an underground garage for 54 cars, has been filed with Planning.

655 Folsom Street Design

The development as proposed includes 35 two-bedrooms, 37 one-bedrooms and 12 studios.  A variance to for the requested 54 parking spaces will be required as the City’s Planning Code only allows for 0.25 spaces per residential unit at this site.

In addition to the 655 Folsom project, plans for another 13-story building with 240 units to wrap around the Canton site, covering the parcels at 667 Folsom and 120-126 Hawthorne, are in the works as well but a little farther behind, with that project’s Preliminary Assessment currently under review.

667 Folsom Street Site

The proposed 240-unit project, which is being designed by Handel Architects for Equity Residential, doesn’t include any parking spaces, other than for 136 bikes.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Alai

    That must be at least three underground levels of parking. Pretty impressive for such a small site.

    Also worth noting is that it appears to be replacing 14,000 square feet of commercial space with 2,000. That’s a big drop, and one that is repeated a lot. I wonder what the long-term ramifications of that will be.

    • Posted by Brian M

      Given that the Bay Area economy is based on e-commerce which elimiates the need for more and more retail, and the reality that the United States is by world standards vastly over-supplied with retail space, I imagine only positive ramifications.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        So, you’re envisioning a future where there’s no such thing as street-front retail? Are the sidewalk empty and barren in this e-topia of yours? What’s the point of even living in a city, in such instance?

    • Posted by SFRealist

      I know you’re looking for a controversy, but the existing space is a mediocre dim sum place and a former discount furniture store. Save your pearl clutching.

  2. Posted by anon

    Holy excessive parking. Hope that planning denies the variance.

    • Posted by MorganDriver

      Excessive? I hope you’re kidding but I know you’re not.

      • Posted by anon

        As Futurist says, we have zoning for a reason. Planning needs to stick with the zoned amount of parking spots here.

        • Posted by BobN

          We have zoning like “the City’s Planning Code only allows for 0.25 spaces per residential unit at this site” because we govern by wishful thinking and unicorn logic.

          Has the City ever bothered to conduct a survey on any of the new construction of the last decade to see what actual vehicle ownership is compared to the parking they’ve allowed?

          • Posted by anon

            You’re expecting it to be wildly different than the thousands of units already out there without parking?

          • Posted by BobN

            You’re expecting it to be wildly different…

            I’m expecting a survey to show that actual vehicle ownership among owners/tenants of new developments far exceeds the provided storage space.

          • Posted by anon

            I guess the question is then…so? Give it time for people to self-sort. Those that really don’t like having to hunt for parking on the street will do one of three things: 1. buy/rent a parking spot elsewhere 2. move to a place that includes parking 3. get rid of their car

            The point of restricting parking is to keep congestion under control by limiting the amount of new cars in the city. It has nothing to do with trying to match the number of parking spots with the number of cars that new owner/renters decide to bring.

          • Posted by anonon

            We actually have data on that. 88% of new households in San Francisco are car free.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            anonon. that article from streetsblog is complete and utter BS. there is no data to support that 88% of new residents from last 12 yrs are car-free

          • Posted by Jake

            besides, that article used old census data: an average over 2008-2012, a timeframe more weighted to the effects of the recession than to the current boom. If you use the most recent census data for SF, which is for 2013, then it shows only 39% of SF household increase from 2000 to 2013 was households without a vehicle. The census data from the 2000 census and 2013 1 year acs are:
            329,700 SF 2000 occupied housing units
            094,178 SF 2000 occupied housing units with no vehicle
            28.6% = 094,178/329,700
            ________
            354,651 SF 2013 occupied housing units
            103,938 SF 2013 occupied housing units with no vehicle
            29.3% = 103,938/354,651
            ________
            the differences between 2000 and 2013 are:
            24,951 SF occupied housing units increase from 2000 to 2013
            09,760 SF occupied housing units with no vehicle increase from 2000 to 2013
            39% = 09,760/24,951
            ________
            All the data shows that as wealth increases in SF, so does car ownership.

          • Posted by anon

            I’m confused Jake – don’t your numbers show an increase in percentage of households without cars from 2000 to 2013?

          • Posted by Jake

            not sure what you are confused about, but it is important to understand that the margin of error on the census estimate of the percentage of households without a vehicle is 1.3%, which means that the difference between 2000 and 2013 is well within the margin of error and thus the data doesn’t show an increase or a decrease. Anyone that thinks that it does, doesn’t understand the data.

            SF in 2013 wasn’t richer than in 2000 by simple measures like the median household income. The boom in 2000 was bigger than now. The income distribution in SF has changed since 2000. Now we have a higher percentage of wealthy households and a higher percentage of poorer households. The middle has decreased. Almost all (90+%) wealthy households in SF have at least one vehicle. If this is built with less than one parking space per market rate unit, then it will create demand for overnight parking garages nearby.

          • Posted by anon

            Got it. Probably would have been nice to mention what the margin of error was, along with the fact that SF is getting poorer. Just to read through your prior post you make it seem as though the data is showing the percentage of carless households increasing in percentage terms. Your last statement, “All the data shows that as wealth increases in SF, so does car ownership”, should probably be rephrased to something like – “In spite of greater wealth in 2000, SF has shown no major increase in carless household rates as wealth has decreased.”

          • Posted by Jake

            I don’t think SF is poorer than in 2000. AFAIK, the aggregate wealth and income since the recent recovery is around the dotcom boom years. The distribution across the population has changed, though, with increases at the upper and lower ends and declined in the middle.

            In the past on SS I’ve posted detailed analysis of the factors that determine car ownership rates in SF. More income results in more cars everywhere in SF. And yes there are other factors, but more $$$ yields more cars.

            WRT the 88% number quoted above, it is simply someone mistaking the statistical noise for the signal. The margins of error on the number of occupied housing units with no vehicles is larger than the result they are touting.

            When I’ve posted margin of error info in the past on SS it has mostly been ignored or misconstrued (see long contentious threads on bike ridership trends and rent control for examples). The census includes their margin of error along with the data that people like to quote. It is easy to find if you don’t want to be misled or to mislead others.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            streetsblog entire MO is misleading people for the sake of promoting cycling over all other modes of transit

          • Posted by anon

            Jake, perhaps you’ve posted data other places that show this, but nothing in your numbers here show that more wealth equals more cars. In fact, the numbers that you posted seem to support the notion that there isn’t a problem like BobN is proposing, as new units coming online seem to bringing in people with roughly the same auto ownership rates as the city as a whole.

          • Posted by Jake

            First, car ownership rates in SF have been very stable for ~30 years. There was a big increase in car ownership before 1980, but little change since other than up in boom times and down in recessions. I’ve previously posted those stats on SS and provided links to the CA DMV historical registration data.

            Second, anyone that knows this location well, would know that the congestion problem is dominated by commuters passing through on the way to/from the freeway ramps on Rincon Hill and 4th/Harrison. This intersection is included in the traffic study within the EIR for the 2nd St transformation to a bucolic bikeway. The vast majority of the cars that pass this corner in both directions during the worst congestion are headed for those ramps and the closure of lanes on 2nd St is forecast to increase those numbers substantially at this intersection.

            Third, here is an extract from a much longer and more detailed analysis with stats that I posted on SS last year:

            “From Bernal Heights to Pac Heights, from Chinatown to Noe Valley, from the Tenderloin to Russian Hill the estimate for the per capita number of cars in this area is one per $175k of median household income with a standard deviation of $16k. Just to put it in perspective, next time you are standing on Corona Heights, this applies to just about everywhere in SF you can see.”

          • Posted by anon

            Thanks Jake, much appreciated. I assume this closes BobN’s concern that somehow the new housing is leading to massive amounts of under-parked folks.

        • Posted by Futurist

          Sure did. And I’m fine with that parking ratio here.

          • Posted by anon

            Then let’s hope they don’t allow the variance.

          • Posted by Oh Dear

            “The point of restricting parking is to keep congestion under control by limiting the amount of new cars in the city. It has nothing to do with trying to match the number of parking spots with the number of cars that new owner/renters decide to bring”.

            Even the director of MTA concedes that fully a third of congestion is related to people circling looking for parking. Just because you provide residential parking does not create congestion. I have parking space but only drive sparingly.

          • Posted by anon

            So you’re just going to ignore the two thirds of congestion not caused by people circling? Last time I checked, two thirds was bigger than one third.

    • Posted by Conifer

      San Francisco should be a city full of people who hate cars and do not want to own one. That is the only kind of people we want here. If you are a normal person of the 21st century who believes that automobiles are useful, live somewhere else.

      We much prefer rich people, especially from certain other risky countries, to buy condos here as pieds-à-terre to leave them empty or kindly rent them to tourists on AirBNB.

      We should do nothing to encourage full-time residents, much less families. No parking, no large apartments.

      • Posted by anon

        I find cars very useful, hence the reason I pay for a parking spot. I’m not sure why you assume that me wanting to ensure that I can actually use my car (by limiting congestion) somehow means that I “hate” cars. There’s plenty of room for more people, but we’re approaching the limit on the number of cars that can fit on the streets.

        • Posted by Conifer

          You just want to keep other people from having cars, or making it very difficult or expensive. Only the rich will be able to afford “a parking spot” if you greatly limit the number of garage spaces in new buildings. Families and many other kinds of people are not going to buy apartments without garages, but it is perfect for certain rich people who need a safe place to park their money.

          • Posted by anon

            If the desire is to make sure that poor people can have parking spots, then sponsor a city program to have the city subsidize the cost of the parking spot for those under a certain income. I just don’t want more cars on the streets than the streets can handle. Seems fairly socialist to allocate parking by something other than the market, but that’s par for the course in SF.

            Is that what you’re proposing here? A BMR program for parking?

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          agree we’re approaching the limit on the number of cars that can fit on the streets. thats why it would be good to find a place to store them so they are not on the street.

          Better yet, the city should actually consider coming up with a decent public transportation system and try to plan for transformative changes to public transport over next 20 yrs.

          • Posted by anon

            I’d be fine with this if we could dynamically price use of the streets (ideally sell off the streets to private companies to manage this). Alas, cap/trade on parking is the only decent proxy for controlling street congestion until that time.

            I understand the romantic desire to believe that cars parked in garages mostly don’t leave, but that doesn’t really matter for any network-load concerns. Some of the time those cars will leave, so we can’t just “wish for the best” that they’ll only be used during low traffic times.

      • Posted by anon

        Got news for you. Cars are not going away. Not ever. In the decades to come, autonomous Uber-like services will prove to be far faster and easer to get around than public transit. If you don’t like cars move to a farm in a rural village.

        • Posted by anon

          And that’s fine. I have no interest in getting rid of cars (not sure why you though that?). I simply want to keep our congestion under control.

          Autonomous cars provide an easy path to do this, that’s even better than the admittedly crude method of cap/trade for parking. With autonomous cars it will be very easy to use congestion pricing everywhere to keep roads free-flowing.

        • Posted by Brian M

          And if you insist on living a suburban drive-everywhere-and-demand-the-govenrment-MANDATE-free-parking-lifestyle, may I suggest FREMONT? Or Mountain House. Plenty of garage space in Mountain House.

    • Posted by g

      The best way to discourage car ownership is to have a fantastic public transit system.

      • Posted by anon

        I don’t have any desire to discourage car ownership, I’m just looking to maintain free-flowing uncongested roads. Autonomous cars hooked up to congestion pricing works best for this, but in the meantime a cap/trade system for parking is the best proxy.

        • Posted by anonon

          Flying cars! It’s the 60s all over again.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        yes, and we rank square in the D to F category for public transportation. we will not be a “world class city” until we have decent public transport

        • Posted by anon

          Agreed, though not sure it’s worth it at this point. The city will screw it up, so it might be better to just look ahead to autonomous self-driving cars/buses where congestion can be managed via dynamic pricing of roadway use.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            would be good to outsource entire public transportation department to google X. we could most likely get a good transportation system in under 10 yrs if that was done

          • Posted by anon

            Agreed, though I don’t think that would solve many of the issues of building new infrastructure (for example, if we wanted them to build a subway line). They’d still have to deal with the city bureaucracy for gaining ROW, construction permits, etc.

            That’s why I think the real gamechanger will be the ability to do all of this without digging.

  3. Posted by Mike C.

    I loved Canton Seafood when I lived at Archstone. It was one of my favorite places to eat in the neighborhood.

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      I have been going there for more than 10 years. We go during weekend as a family and during the week, with my coworkers. It sits our large group easily and cost little after devour lots of dim sum. So sad to see it goes the way of gas stations.

      • Posted by ess

        Yep. I went here multiple times per week when I worked in the area because I can never get enough dim sum. They have a great takeout counter down on the Hawthorne side. On weekends, this is probably also the only Chinese restaurant in SOMA open east of King Diner.

  4. Posted by unlivable city

    I’m going to coin a new term for infill horrors like this: ‘Tumor Architecture’ — cancers ruining a once beautiful city.

    • Posted by Orland

      Handsome building.

    • Posted by sf

      I could say the same thing about 40% or so of the citizens of SF.

    • Posted by cfb

      “Infill horror”? The real horror is people who constantly vote for development restrictions, which is why SF has a giant lack of housing and high housing prices. SF needs housing badly…I hope these get approved, and I hope another 50 like them are built.

    • Posted by anonon

      Yeah because the Canton Seafood is a masterpiece of architecture. A lovely building for a lovely city, as we can all agree seeing that picture.

  5. Posted by katdip

    Good, that building is ugly and it will be good to have more residential here. Don’t mourn the loss of Canton or of the commercial space – there is tons of vacant space from the other new developments (Blu, and the Riverbed building across Folsom)

    • Posted by Dave

      True. There is a lot of empty commercial space in this area and in Mission Bay. Downsizing the amount of commercial space is the right thing to do if there is not the demand.

      Just what kind of stores are supposed to fill all this space? its not a tourist area and, aside from local service oriented stores and restaurants, there is not much left. Professional space maybe?r

  6. Posted by Denny

    I will mourn the loss of a good neighborhood Chinese place.

  7. Posted by rod lee

    The neighborhood is certainly changing. Canton Seafood brings back good memories. Not many places like that in the area. Unless the city can guarantee reliable mass transportation in the area, I think the parking allotment is unreasonable.

  8. Posted by phil

    Vertical suburbs. Just a place to sleep, no life on the street.

    • Posted by Dave

      This is so true. Mission Bay is devoid of street life much of the weekend. It gets to all the empty commercial space out there.

      I look at the photo of the hodgepodge of building around this project and no way would I want to live there. If I want high density I’d go to Park Merced which has huge units

      I think of NYC and how even at midnight the streets are full. Allowing for the great myriad of stores and shops. People spill out of the hi-rise apartments onto the street and its an extension of their living space. The stores often have planters and vines growing up trellis like add-ons. Adding an intimacy and warmth at street level.

      The difference?

      In part the great public transit of NYC. If a small shop has a good rep then folks can come from anywhere in the city easily. Not having to worry about parking. That won’t happen here. Stores can’t survive here. Most anyway.

      The NYC neighborhoods (hi-density) grew organically around great public transit. Over time.

      But yeah, street life will be mostly non-existent.

  9. Posted by anon

    Mission Bay is not very dense.

  10. Posted by matteo

    Any idea where this restaurant is relocating? I hope not too far from this location. Love their dim sum!

  11. Posted by inclinejj

    Most of the city infrastructure (sewer system, sewer collection, water delivery) is about 100 years old. With all this new construction I wonder how they plan to make changes and upgrades for all these new people?

  12. Posted by jwb

    Too bulky and shouldn’t be allowed to eradicate that much retail space.

  13. Posted by LJL

    It needs bigger orange panels to match existing context.

  14. Posted by SFrentier

    It should be 100% affordable. Maybe campos can do something about that. Or maybe sfgov can outbid everyone else and buy the site.

  15. Posted by James

    Great! More housing and finally getting rid of that horrible “dim sum” place. I’m surprised it lasted so long.

  16. Posted by jamesjr

    Terrible food. Owners never cared for property properly. Good riddance.

  17. Posted by JayJay

    Sweet. More commercial sq footage should be considered, but overall good project.

  18. Posted by Dr. O

    Oh no…Where’s Canton going? Not sure about James’ and Jamesjr’s experiences, but I’ve always had good food and service there. Not a lot of good food options in this area.

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