With Target breathing new life into the sprawling 6.6-acre City Center complex at the intersection of Geary and Masonic, plans to add another 33,000 square feet of retail space have been drawn and could be approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission next week.

Built for Sears in 1961, with 208,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 640 cars spread across six terraced parking levels (A-F), the proposed additions would rise on portions of parking lots A, D and F, but in such a way that 634 parking spaces would remain.

Sixteen (16) parking spaces would be eliminated from parking lot D, allowing 7,500 square feet of new space to be added to the “Crow’s Nest” above Best Buy.

A new 22,100-square-foot building would rise on the complex’s easternmost parking lot F, eliminating a total of 61 parking spaces in the process while adding a landscaped pedestrian walkway connecting O’Farrell to Geary Boulevard (the “Geary Crossing”), formalizing the current shortcut for residents in Anza Vista on the southern side of the center to the bus stop on Geary.

And perhaps most dramatically, at least in terms of appearances, a new 3,100 square foot building would rise on the northeast corner of Masonic and O’Farrell Street, eliminating 19 parking spaces from parking lot A but adding 90 spaces across an elevated expansion over the existing lot.

In addition, the proposed expansion includes 89 new parking spaces for bikes, 23 of which would be secure lockers, and 12 new street trees along O’Farrell Street.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Occupied in Oakland

    I guess SF is not happy until it’s taken everything from Oakland. However, y’all can have the City Center name – it’s lame.

  2. Posted by boojum

    So, most surface parking lots preserved? How does this make sense in a city desperate for new housing? Maybe I’m missing something – I’m happy to be enlightened on this – but it seems that with enlightened planning and thoughtful design, this immense site, bracketed by two major thoroughfares (Geary and Masonic) and with the approach of much improved public transportation (Geary BRT), could accommodate existing retail, expanded retail, and I’m guessing: 800-to-1,200 new units of housing.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      That’s correct. But keep in mind that based on the amount of existing and proposed retail, San Francisco’s Planning Code requires 721 parking spaces in total.

      And in order to proceed as proposed, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will need to approve a Conditional Use Authorization to move forward with 87 fewer parking spaces than required (much less eliminate any more).

    • Posted by SFRealist

      I agree, but don’t hold your breath on BRT on Geary. It makes a ton of sense, but we’ve been talking about it since at least 2006.

      [Editor’s Note: Rapid Transit Line on Geary Closer to Reality.]

  3. Posted by Monty

    Should build apartment towers above retail. Wasted opportunity.

    • Posted by Eddy

      Agreed. Tremendous waste of an opportunity to create something really interesting here.

    • Posted by Frank C.

      Tremendous, huge, colossal, stupid, pathetic wasted opportunity to add housing, this site could have easily tolerated at least in the high 3 digits.

    • Posted by Futurist

      No, not with the lame transit system running up and down Geary.

      • Posted by Pablito

        Agreed. I see the people on the Geary bus packed in like sardines every day. The overcrowding is ridiculous. Muni needs to fix this line Before the City allows new development.

        • Posted by Mark

          Problem is you’ll see either no development or more low-rise, suburban-style development. Transit sucks in this town and even if BRT ever gets built it will do very little to improve transit for most riders. If you want to see transit-oriented development done right look at Arlington, VA’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor…from post-war suburban wasteland to vibrant residential/retail/commercial success story.

  4. Posted by eugene

    This seems like a lot of effort for only 33,000 sf net added retail…

  5. Posted by oscar

    i guess i’m alone in being excited by this. i believe there should be a lot of new housing coming caddy corner to this at the old lucky penny location.

    [Editor’s Note: Even Bigger Plans for the Shuttered Lucky Penny Site.]

    • Posted by Chris

      I’m also very excited. And yeah the new condos caddy corner to this will provide plenty of housing. I just hope the infrastructure can handle it. I know the reduced parking spaces from the masonic project in combination with all the new residents is going to make that a royal pain.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      I concur – I think this is a good thing, especially the new building on Masonic, which will help eliminate the “suburban” feel that the block currently has. Sure, there are other things that could have been done; but they would also have required a lot more work, disruption, NIMBY rebuttals, etc. This is the sweet spot between “best case” and “easiest to do”.

  6. Posted by Laurel Heights

    Would it be possible to rezone the complex to mixed use? With the additional residents, commercial activities around Alta Vista and Laurel Heights should be sustainable. Malls are slowly dying and it would be too practical to have mid rise apartments over retail podium.

    • Posted by Calvin

      I remember seeing some plans for some condos on the Geary side. Don’t know if that was eliminated or in addition to this expansion.

  7. Posted by aerel

    So basically they want to build a shopping mall… seriously?

    • Posted by Brian M

      Because there is such a demand for new Targets and Best Buy is doing so very well right now!!!!!!

  8. Posted by Invented

    Agreed that this is a lost opportunity for a vibrant mixed use development. If they are expanding this confusing, creepy and depressing mall, would still like to see Trader Joe’s move to this development as the trafiic at their current site is continuously backed up and dangerous. If Trader Joe’s could figure out a home delivery model, probably becomes moot.

    • Posted by BHG

      Confusing, creepy, and depressing is so spot-on! What a weird uncomfortable place! Hopefully the improved pedestrian access and walkway plus elimination of that lame lower parking lot will mask the problematic location and layout of that compound.

  9. Posted by Simpleton

    What does it say that any new retail development seems shocking these days? Agree that this site is begging for mixed use. Although if Trader Joe’s did move In here they could develop that site. Bold to build more retail with the current trend. But I wish them the best of luck! At least it will be a more efficient use of the space…

  10. Posted by Crones81

    I am normally with everyone on increased density for a site like this, but it has only recently been reinvigorated with the addition of Target and knocking it all down to build a mid-rise complex seems like moving backwards. Removing the small parking lot on the Masonic side, coupled with the street renovations, will be a great change to the pedestrian experience, and won’t take 10 years to approve and build. They can always apply to add even more retail space in the future if the market demands it.

  11. Posted by Tim E

    I’m not quite sure every corner needs to be a condo/apartment project when the previous post [shows a] slowing condo sales trend with some 60,000 units of housing in the pipeline or planned within the city.

    The additions seem to fit and one of the few mall re-uses involving strictly retail, first target and the additional space highlighted. Which says a lot for the success of the city in itself and maybe a realization by owners/developers that this might be a better return on investment in long term instead of spending a lot of time, then more time & money to get something new built.

    • Posted by jwb

      A 3-5 story residential building on literally every corner of SF would be a great start.

  12. Posted by BTinSF

    This site needs parking because the types of stores in it sell things not conducive to hauling home on Muni. Are you really going to schlep your new TV or speaker system from Best Buy on a bus? I’m not (but then I’m old and out of shape). But to me, this is the kind of shopping for which I get a ZipCar and ZipCars need a place to park.

    • Posted by Alai

      That doesn’t make sense to me. Zipcar would cost you, what, $20-30, and you have to know in advance how long you’ll be shopping. Seems easier to me to go there however, and if you buy something big you call an ubercab for $10. Cheaper and a lot less hassle (like having to get the car back on time). Not needing parking is a bonus.

    • Posted by BHG

      You generally have big bulky items delivered for a small fee anyway.

      • Posted by Brian M

        How many people are buying anything from Best Buy these days anyways?

        • Posted by Mark

          Good question. One way to find out is to go to one of the stores and observe.

  13. Posted by memester

    There are three very active neighborhood groups surrounding the area, and would welcome the chance to weigh in on any addition of residential units (and the subsequent parking, however small). This clearly is a lost opportunity at this time, but definitely, upgrades the neighborhood in terms of walkability and additional retail. Nothing is permanent, There are proposals floating around regarding the MUNI Barn/Yard, at least along Masonic, and the planned housing for the UCSF Campus. Geary has been an afterthought for decades, but it actually provides one of the best gradual densification opportunities in the city.

  14. Posted by moto mayhem

    would definitely be cool to see a 12 story condo tower thrown into this space on top of some of the retail.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Um, no. Not here. Out of scale and place (and way over-sized for the crappy Muni infrastructure).

  15. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    Great project. I used to live in that part of town 15-20 years ago and this complex was a depressing wasteland. I’m not a fan of malls but having some concentration of retail is good for a neighborhood. Hope they can attract one or two interesting restaurants and not just some crappy chain brewpub.

  16. Posted by Bobby Mucho

    Add a solid cafe, a couple good restaurants open into the evening and a medium sized theater and you have yourself a plan.

  17. Posted by Stop Driving

    This will be great if they move away from the big box retail model. Target, Panera, Subway, Best Buy, etc. These are not businesses many San Franciscans want to patronize. I live near this place, but have only been in the Target a handfull of times. Not my cup of tea. Meanwhile, locally owned Bi Rite is packed to the gills while this place seems relatively vacant. Give us some nice, local shops/restaurants and we’ll be happy customers.

    • Posted by Mark

      What an utterly ridiculous statement and gross assumption of people who live in SF. Just because you’d rather spend your money at Bi-Rite instead of Target doesn’t mean others do as well.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      i like all of those businesses and they have a real need in SF.

  18. Posted by Brisket

    “City Center Complex” as a name has delusions of grandeur for what appears to be just an expansion of the suburban shopping mall concept.

  19. Posted by Rick

    I have yet to see any proposal (housing, retail, transit) in san francisco that is not uniformly pooped on. Dumping on every project has become a parlor game. The new retail and condos in Laurel Village. The proposed housing at the UCSF location on California. I have to assume that these comments are more of the same. Taking away too many parking spots…..adding too many parking spots. Jeez.

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