600 Van Ness Avenue Site

The emergence of construction trailers, equipment and a crew on the parking lot portion of the shuttered McDonald’s at 600 Van Ness Avenue, which has been newly festooned with a fresh batch of graffiti, seems to be fueling some speculation that the redevelopment of the site is about to get underway. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.

In fact, the plans for a building to rise up to 13-stories in height across the site are being revised and have yet to be approved.

600 Van Ness Massing

And the trailers, equipment and crew on the site have been installed to support the City’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project which is slated to be under construction through 2019.

Van Ness BRT Rendering

But as a plugged-in reader notes, the paperwork to secure a demolition permit for the shuttered McDonald’s is working its way through Planning and could expand the construction staging site for the BRT project over the next three years.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Jim

    There is a good possibility that Walsh Construction will also take over the abandoned McDonald’s, demolish it and expand their construction yard.

  2. Posted by unlivable city

    Here we are on the cusp of a transit revolution with autonomous mini-busses that will pick you up in front of your house and get you to your destination in half the time of current MUNI. And instead of planning for that we’ll blow a billion on BRT. Bought and paid for by the bus makers, starting in Brazil.

    • Posted by Futurist

      We’re not on the cusp at ALL on that complete,nonsensical fantasy.

      I hope you are joking.

    • Posted by Jake

      nah, we are way past the cusp. We are deep in the gully of gullibility, immersed in dronings of drone fantasia, the auto-illusion of simple escapes to unsupportable false hopes. Instead of planning for the future we’ll blow smoke on siren songs. Bought and paid for by the buzz makers, starting in Mt View.

      • Posted by Some Guy

        That, and airplanes will never fly. It’s just not possible, anyone with a speck of brain knows that. Or so they said for decades before Kitty Hawk.

        The first truckload of beer has already been autonomously delivered. Coors or Budweiser or some crap. Look it up. World-rending, innit?

        • Posted by Jake

          That tuck was human piloted during parts of the trip according to an Otto spokesman. It was human attended during the entire trip. The truck mostly drove on I25 in Colorado. Let us know when there is an actual first autonomous beer run in an inhabited area.

          It will be much easier to believe the advocates claims when the advocates don’t misrepresent the facts and misstate the accomplishments. Not that there aren’t accomplishments, this R&D has created a yuge flock of gullibles, human piloted.

          No one said never. No one said not possible. BTW, we’ve had real drones formerly known as robots delivering mail inside buildings since the 1980s. NASA, militaries, and industry have built many robot/drone/whatevers that operate autonomously where humans can’t or shouldn’t go. More apropos, Zipline is delivering medical supplies/blood in Rwanda via drone planes. And of course we have had actual yuge commercial planes that autopilot much of their human assisted trip. Maybe you have been semi-“autonomously” delivered that way yourself. Yet, we still don’t land planes to pick you up on your doorstep 100+ years since Kitty Hawk. Rendering the vagaries of “in front of your house” and at “your destination” is the hard part, not driving like google’s grandma down the interstate.

        • Posted by Freeloader

          That autonomous truck specifically is designed for the highway, with the current intent of leveraging drivers for last-mile delivery. This is consistent with Jake’s comments, but even highway autonomy would imply huge changes and hundreds of billions of value, but not trillions and not door to door autonomous mini busses.

          • Posted by Orland

            True, autotomonous technology is currently in its infancy with full adulthood to take about another 5 years. Embrace it!

          • Posted by Jake

            Certainly, cruise-control+++ implies yuge changes, including to the meaning of BSOD. And I do embrace our future of underage entrepreneurs harnessing the awesomeness of automated-self-supply-chains from self-driving beer trucks to self-ordering-wifi-enabled beer cozies for their ddos attacks. Thanks Uber/Coors/Amazon/Mirai.

            FWIW, there are more Internet routable sensors born every day than people. Let us harness them to make us more sensible, not more non-sensical. Let us avoid giving over public roadways for private experiments, like has been recently suggested for a section I5. And let us avoid avoiding building the mass transit that we need because of faith in unicorn dreams.

            As for me, I’m still waiting for my blood test results from Theranos. Game changer, innit?

  3. Posted by dB

    BRT, as executed here on surface streets, will be SF’s “Great (transit) Mistake”

    • Posted by no name

      Amen. Why not extend a Muni or Bart line off of Market and then up Van Ness, as a subway?

      Because as anyone that regularly has to commute down Van Ness knows, what it really needs…is one less lane of traffic.

    • Posted by zig

      Maybe for drivers although traffic might flow easier without buses mixed in. Should make transit more reliable.

      • Posted by Mark

        Not necessarily. They are only predicting a couple minutes being shaved off the entire length of Van Ness between Market and Bay St. All left turns would be removed (except for Broadway SB and Lombard NB) plus the removal of traffic lanes in each direction.

        While transit improvements are sorely needed on Van Ness, undergrounding it would be the most beneficial solution, albeit most expensive. Imagine what Market St. would look like today if there wasn’t a subway.

        • Posted by zig

          Of course but we live in a world of limited resources though

          I have not looked very much at this BRT but have to think it would improve reliability when there is traffic congestion

  4. Posted by Anon94123

    The 1915 street lamps (modified in 1936 as part of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge) are to now be removed and replaced with modern fixtures according the MTA, along with destruction and removal of the mature trees along the route, unlike what is shown in the rendering.

    Also- regarding the supposed time savings for bus riders on the future BRT line, isn’t it true that the REAL reason Van Ness BRT would be quicker is that they are eliminating nine stops along Van Ness? Without the removal of 9 stops, the time savings would be less than 2 minutes if one were to ride BRT down the entire length of Van Ness.

  5. Posted by invented

    The BRT will be ripped out for underground within a few years of completion. The new gen of San Franciscans and especially incoming residents are far more demanding, visionary and sophisticated than the slow, space hogging and noisy transit nonsense taking place. Altho the staffing might be still, psst … it is no longer 1985. The evolving Van Ness corridor requires grown-up transit.

    Be part of the change and say no to this folly.

    • Posted by zig

      Subways cost what 10x as much as LRV and I am sure BRT is even cheaper

      Where will the money come from this next generation? SF has pretty small dense core and then is rather lowish density elsewhere so subways that are not regional seem impractical

      Perhaps they will be more visionary by just pricing parking better, giving over more traffic lanes to transit and giving transit signal priority/preemption. It is way cheaper and the way mid-sized cities in Europe do things. The Swiss seems to know what they are doing.

      • Posted by Orland

        Great contribution. Thank you.

      • Posted by Mark

        With that logic, why even bother having the Market St. subway? LRVs can run on the surface from the Embarcadero to Castro, stopping every block. Enjoy that 30-40 min commute.

        Stockholm is a mid-sized city as well, but has a huge metro system. Seems like the Swedes know what they are doing too.

        • Posted by zig

          I’m not making that argument. Just that a lot can be accomplished just giving transit priority. In SF cars and parking get priority. There is not unlimited resources

          • Posted by Mark

            Please. There’s money out there. We’re supposedly the wealthiest economy in the world so I don’t buy for one second that money isn’t available. Of course building any kind of major infrastructure is going to cost money, sometimes a heck of lot of money. But, enough with the defeatist attitude about “not enough resources” or “it’s too expensive.” With that attitude you’re basically (1) writing off any future development because it’s only going to get more expensive and (2) settling for something substandard.

            Construction is only part of the total cost. Operating the system is a major component as well. This is what the Swiss know how to do very well. The MTA does not.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            there’s money out there *and* at record low interest rates. It’s criminal that we’re not building infrastructure right now – twiddling when we could be taking advantage of this incredible opportunity. Think how much more it’s going to cost to build a Central Subway extension, Geary subway, 2nd Bay Tube, etc. 20 years from now as compared to the cost of doing so today, paying for it 20 years from now at virtually the same cost.

    • Posted by Alai

      Well, you’re optimistic! It took a decade and a half to get mere BRT lanes, but we’ll have a subway under construction within a few years of its completion? I look forward to it!

  6. Posted by ohmy

    I see that the “squid” tagger hit the building. I have painted over so many of his tags in my neighborhood its crazy. How much time = $ has this guy cost the city? If they ever catch him/her they should get 52 weekends of community service to clean tags and pick up trash (including poo and pee).

  7. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    Perfect location for a new SRO building similar to the concrete and orange/red paneled building in the mission.

    Why more market rate along van ness, and polk street there is enough there, and this would be near city hall and a major medical service center and area, perfect location to provide housing and amenities.

    BRT will suredly take more people at crush capacity… and with the SOTA school nearby you wont have any choice but walking biking or dodging lyft and uber cars on van ness

  8. Posted by keenplanner

    I wonder why the plan didn’t include running the BRT up Lombard to the Palace of Fine Arts?

    If the 26 local transit agencies weren’t little klepto-fifedoms, Marin/Sonoma Express buses could run at higher speed up BRT lanes, and pick up passengers on the way.

    Eventually, we should have HOV lanes on the GG Bridge as well as the Bay Bridge. That is if the MTC and Caltrans got serious about supporting fast transit before single-operator cars.

    • Posted by no name

      Well the Marin / Sonoma buses won’t be using the BRT lanes since they don’t have the high loading platforms. So when they don’t pull all the way into the bus loading zone – either due to laziness or the bus stop area is blocked by an uber or delivery truck, as they often are – Van Ness will be down to 1 lane at that pinch point.

      Reason #735 this will be a disaster

      • Posted by no name

        But hey, we’ll be ‘cosmopolitan’ like Buenos Aires and Barcelona, which is all Muni seems to care about with this project

      • Posted by Alai

        Can you explain? The Marin/Sonoma buses (I assume this means Golden Gate Transit) are going to use the lanes, according to the SFCTA website.

  9. Posted by mjtowns

    Here is another example of pinching pennies to throw away dollars. This is a very short sighted plan. If we’re going to dig up up Van Ness why not do it right? Put in an underground MUNI along a densely populated thoroughfare? Eliminating a lane that connects the Peninsula with Marin for a dedicated bus lane is completely foolish. We are not just talking about tourists driving along the 101 highway, we are talking about Marin and San Mateo transit buses, private company employee buses, construction trucks and commercial vehicles on a daily basis. This is a main artery that crosses a city. Why not put these dedicated bus lanes on a narrower Street like Polk? This is so outrageously foolish.

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