Central Freeway Parcel L

Intended as a temporary installation until San Francisco’s economic downturn had passed and the development of the former Central Freeway Parcel L, which is zoned for building up to 55-feet in height, made sense, Supervisor London Breed has introduced a resolution which would extend the lease for the Biergarten at 424 Octavia, which is set to expire in a few months, through January 21, 2021.

While the Biergarten parcel is rather skinny, keep in mind that plans for a 26-unit building with a ground floor retail space, “designed for a future community beer hall concept,” and underground parking for 13 cars to rise on a smaller parcel up the street are in the works.

As much as we love the Biergarten, and we really do, one could make the argument that perhaps it’s time for the centrally located parcel to be developed, and posthaste.  And in the meantime, the City is moving forward with a record setting purchase of an undeveloped parcel which it doesn’t own a mile away.

Regardless, if the lease extension for Parcel L is approved, the base rent will increase from $2,000 a month to $5,500 a month effective November 1, 2015.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by anon

    This needs to be developed now.

  2. Posted by Zig

    Looks like owner of the beer garden contributed and is friends with London Breed

  3. Posted by Sutro_Tower

    We always knew the development of the parcels immediately adjacent to Patricia’s Green would be a tough sell (pun intended) to area residents who enjoy the park and have come to see those parcels as an extension of the open space.

    Personally of the belief that those former freeway lots could be developed with active ground floor space that spills out onto PG and frame the space much like South Park. Guess that will have to wait until the next cycle.

  4. Posted by anon

    that place is so unfun. no table service, grim location. yuck.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      … and no shade. I agree, I’ve never seen the appeal of waiting in a long line with hipsters, to get a beer that I have to drink while sitting on a glorified parking lot behind a chain-link fence.

      • Posted by anon

        exactly. except for the “hipsters” thing. Unless hipsters are what used to be called Yuppies. To me a hipster is a guy or girl who looks likely to ride a fixie, not a X5.

        • Posted by Futurist

          I agree.. and oh, BTW, X5’s give a fine ride indeed.

      • Posted by Emanon

        “…waiting in a long line with hipsters….” I thought that was the only appeal of most of the currently popular venues in SF.

  5. Posted by taco

    Yeah, let’s squash an open space that’s actually being used/enjoyed by non-homeless people.

    • Posted by anon

      Because housing certainly isn’t enjoyed by anyone.

  6. Posted by Futurist

    What a stupid, little, ill-conceived idea. Get rid of it now and build some more housing on this site. That’s what the site is intended for.

  7. Posted by david m

    it’s almost better for this not to be entitled until 2023 or whatever – patricia green will surely have evolved significantly, as it’s becoming clear that those grass spaces are poor uses and the park is heavily used. it could be that we see the streets on either side of the park pedestrianized or incorporated into the park itself. whatever happens over the next 5-7 years, the function of this last hayes street lot in the fabric of the neighborhood will have evolved. building to today’s patricia green isn’t a smart move.

    • Posted by Frisco

      You can’t wait for a neighborhood to stop evolving. If that’s your reason to not develop an open lot, there will never be a good time. Neighborhoods are always changing.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Normally I’d scoff at the idea of pedestrianizing streets (I know it can work – Church Street in Burlington VT, or the Promenade in Santa Monica – but it’s hardly a panacea for most urban woes). But here, the silly little stubs of Octavia are far more of a potential danger (from people *not* realizing they’re technically an active street) than they are useful to drivers (who have to fight all the pedestrians, bikes, and interminable cross-traffic on Hayes. This is one instance where it’d be far better for all to nix the traffic altogether and let the park use expand.

      • Posted by EcceMorons

        Exactly. I’ve seen some close calls. People focused on their Smitten ice cream wandering into Patricia’s Green – suddenly car brakes screeching to a halt. That eastern side of Octavia looks much more like open space than it does an actual street.

        And I see 100 people wandering across it for every one car I see driving through it.

      • Posted by Futurist

        Ok, well I’m all for “some” pedestrian streets, but in this case, on Octavia, how exactly would you solve the issue of ALL THE VEHICLES heading toward the freeway? How would that be handled?

        It’s fine to have these utopian dreams, but making them work is essential.

        • Posted by david m

          that part of octavia is an infrequently used slip lane, rather that some great feeder street. next time you drive into the city check out patricia green park and you’ll see what people mean, it’s bananas, like probably the most used park in the city by area. there’ll almost certainly be some changes coming there over the next few years as these new buildings become occupied and the problem gets put onto the political agenda. your instinctual pro-car bias is especially inappropriate here where there’s literally no role or place for these roads and the park just needs to double in size, along with getting rid of those lawns in favor or an enlarged tree canopy.

          • Posted by Orland

            Agree entirely. There should be no more development along Octavia north of Oak to allow save as community gathering-place.The three parcels to the south on the east side of the street are scheduled for some innovative housing which is an excellent balance.

        • Posted by EcceMorons

          There’s not a single vehicle on that little one-block strip of Octavia that is “heading to the freeway”. Octavia Boulevard northbound almost entirely turns left onto Fell. About one car per hour crosses Fell at that point and goes north on that little strip adjacent to Patricia’s Green, and then dead-ends at Hayes.

          It’s main use is that it adds some extra parking to the neighborhood. But as a roadway, it’s hardly used.

          • Posted by flowmotion

            Yes, I’ve made the mistake of trying to use those streets as a shortcut — they aren’t.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Doesn’t matter. “hardly used” does not mean NOT used. Then figure out this: solve the loss of some neighborhood street parking, solve the access and entry to Linden street, solve the access that some drivers use currently to get to Hayes St., or turn from Hayes going south on Octavia.

            Instant pedestrian streets don’t just happen by clicking your heels together.

          • Posted by EcceMorons

            Futurist, do you ever spend any time at all at Patricia’s Green? Really, count the number of cars using Octavia northbound for that one block from Fell to Hayes. I’m sure SFMTA can do so, and I’m sure the numbers will be minute.

            Same for Octavia southbound from Hayes to Fell. But the more important one is the little northbound street which divides the Green from Proxy – that’s the one that divides 2 open spaces.

            Access to Linden? Octavia north, right on Oak, left on Franklin, left onto Linden. Yeah, 2 extra blocks of driving – but I think balancing that against a much larger open space in a neighborhood that is desperate for it is a pretty easy call. I suspect even the very few people who drive from the Central Freeway to those 2 blocks of Linden would even agree with that trade-off.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Do you realize the part of Octavia we’re talking about is one-lane each way, with very limited access off of Hayes (and, from that point headed southbound, *zero* access to the freeway; unless you violate a couple traffic laws, you can’t proceed south on Octavia from this block to the freeway “on ramp” section of Octavia.

  8. Posted by david m

    just making the best of a disappointing decision. particularly since the city should definitely sell now, with the market what it is.

  9. Posted by EcceMorons

    As it is now, Patricia’s Green, and the adjacent parcels to the east (Biergarten, Proxy, Smitten, etc.) are PACKED. This is the only open space in Hayes Valley.

    Hundreds (maybe 1,000) new units are under construction within blocks of it right now. Within a few years, about 5 new 400-foot residential towers will be built within 4 blocks of it (with no other nearby open space).

    The original intent of selling off all of the Central Freeway parcels was to pay for the construction of Octavia Boulevard. With surging land prices, I imagine that the City has sold existing parcels that have far more than covered that cost by now. The remaining ones are gravy – house money, best used for the highest and best use.

    There seem to be 2 choices:

    1 – build a couple of slender buildings on those 2 parcels.

    2 – expand Patricia’s Green to the east – either as it is now (with the existing businesses on those 2 parcels), or also perhaps removing the little (rarely used) northbound block of Octavia (adjacent and to the east of Patricia’s Green) and incorporating that into the open space.

    I’d suggest that #2 is the best use for the City.

    Yes, housing is needed, but so is rare open space in a neighborhood that has almost none.

    • Posted by Loin

      Why give extra open space to the Hayes valley residents when the tenderloin residents have even less open space and more residents including 4000+ children living in substandard housing?

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        uh, it’s not exactly a zero-sum game. it’s not like there’s a proposal for a nice green park in the Tenderloin that would be mothballed if Patricia Green were expanded.

        • Posted by EcceMorons

          Yeah, that’s a pretty weird non sequitur. Sorta like “Why should we develop affordable housing in SF while there is violence in the Middle East?”

          Or is this some kind of odd argument like, “Hey, my neighborhood kinda sucks, so EVERY neighborhood must be made more sucky, because Justice.” ?

      • Posted by BobN

        Does the city own empty lots in the Tenderloin?

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          They could if they sold this Hayes Valley parcel and used the funds to purchase another parcel in the tenderloin.

      • Posted by zig

        yes we should make everyone suffer

    • Posted by Orland

      The old freeway touchdown (block of Oak/Octavia/Fell/Laguna) would have made a magnificent centerpiece park for the larger neighborhood. Would have required some artful landscape architecture, but there was even mature vegetation to work with. A real opportunity lost not nearly compensated for by what has been built there.

      • Posted by Futurist

        So, I guess by your idea that the housing built there does not really matter or is not needed.

        • Posted by Orland

          The promise of what could have been an absolute jewel outweighs the benefits of the very, very prosaic housing that has gone in there. By your way of thinking, I guess we should subdivide Alta Plaza and Lafayette Park considering how much housing could be built in those 4 square-block plats.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Of course not. the parks you mentioned ARE parks already and have been in existence for over 100 years. big difference.

            And to be fair, the real issue (to you) seems to be more housing vs. more parks. And I think the need for housing outweighs the need for a “jewel” of a park. You don’t have to like the housing that is built there but it does provide a LOT of new housing.

          • Posted by Orland

            Yours is an absolutist, not balanced, approach. An absolutist approach dictates that the prevailing need for housing means you convert a goodly portion of a full 8 blocks of City property to housing. So what if they were parks in the past? Needs and priorities change.

            That’s ridiculous, of course, but so is saying that one measly block of landscaped property which becomes available must be built upon with housing and cannot be repurposed as parkland. And you don’t have to put JEWEL in quotes as it could have been nothing short of gem for the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to rarely available mature landscaping, the natural contour of the land was amenable to starting a stream from an underground source at the northwest corner of Fell/Laguna to cascade down to a collecting pond in the southeast corner. How much more beautiful of a vista to those negotiating the Oak/Octavia intersection would that have been than the insipid dreck blighting that corner now? That’s not to say there could not have been some development along the curtilage of the property such as some retail with rear decks opening onto the park with housing above. Now, that’s a reasoned, balanced approach to land management.

            A horribly lost chance.

  10. Posted by Hunter

    Why, in a city of great year-round weather, do we not have more spaces like this on rooftops? Perhaps the developer could build up and plop the beer garden on the roof. It’s insane to me that more buildings aren’t using their roofs for public restaurants / bars / gyms etc.

    • Posted by lol

      NIMBYs. Rooftop patios and restaurants are illegal in SF.

  11. Posted by Dave

    The City should turn this into permanent green space once the lease ultimately expires. Desperately needed in this area with the nearby residential construction. If the 3/4 Van ness towers ever get built (an open question) the green space will be even more needed.

    • Posted by david m

      it would be a catastrophic waste money to turn the proxy lot into a park, but it would make a lot of sense to extend the park into both of the lanes on either side of patricia green. sell that lot for 20 million or whatever, use 5 million to basically double the size of the park, win-win.

  12. Posted by JB10

    The beer garden is extremely popular as is Smitten – it is an open space that works. Keep the open space please.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      tear down that beergarden. waste of space and definitely need to do more to get rid of hipsters who are homogenizing this town. this is a great area for new housing

    • Posted by mamiel

      Agree.

  13. Posted by bruhaha

    Wasn’t an 8-year extension to 2021 already passed back in 2013?

    I’d like to see more housing built but that decision was made with a slightly less tight market environment.

    • Posted by bruhaha

      Ah, they extended Parcel K (Ritual, Smitten) but not L (Biergarten) back then.

      Definitely makes more sense to use the space for more public good than rent it for the exclusive, fenced-in use of a private enterprise. Extend the park, build BMR housing there, or sell to the highest bidder to funding other projects.

  14. Posted by Easwuud

    Biergarten is a joke. Brick and mortar prices, long line, no service or ambiance. Convert it and the adjacent area at the corner of Octavia and Hayes to some kind of open space. Those lots are not large enough to contribute any meaningful housing and the area does not lack for retail/restaurants.

  15. Posted by San FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

    It’s not like we need housing right now. Right? Everyone can find cheap and spacious accommodation in SF. /sarcasm

  16. Posted by zero

    With the various Market/Octavia Plan and shadow study requirements that the city enforces, entitling a project immediately adjacent to a Rec + Park controlled park will inevitably take longer than the length of the proposed lease extension.

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