As we first noted nine months ago:

While the shuttering of Restaurant LuLu after 24 years at 816 Folsom Street appears to have caught some by surprise, the writing was on the wall if you knew where to look.

Purchased for $1 million back in 1991, the parcel upon which the restaurant’s 8,600-square-foot building sits is currently only zoned for development up to 55 feet in height. But if San Francisco’s Central SoMa Plan is adopted as proposed, which could happen as early as this May, the height limit for the 816 Folsom Street site will be raised to 180 feet and it’s likely to soon hit the market touting its potential.

Or as we foreshadowed two days before LuLu’s demise: “Expect height limits to dominate the discussion of San Francisco development in 2017. And if you thought they already had, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Lo and behold, we can now report that plans for an 18-story CitizenM hotel with 218 rooms to rise upon the 816 Folsom Street site are in the works. And while the aforementioned Central SoMa Plan requires a privately-owned but publicly accessible open space (POPOS) be included in the development of the up-zoned parcel, the project team is angling to pay an “in lieu fee” as a ground floor, open air POPOS “is not compatible with the proposal.”

As always, we’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by ghostwriter

    Isn’t a 180′ building there going to cast a huge shadow on the Yerba Buena Public Square and playground?

    • Posted by Sassy

      Not likely. It will on the future central subway station next door.

  2. Posted by Dave

    Don’t assume the Central SOMA plan, as is, will be easily approved. There is a lot of opposition and it’s growing. Planning will have to address many concerns and, if they don’t, plans for a potential inititive are being talked about.

    As to the in lieu fee for ground level POPOS – no way. As it is the fee has been used at times to fix up city open space which the city should be maintaining as a give w/o special fees. The in lieu fee does not equate to additional open space per se. At a time when cities are “greening” – Singapore per a recent Construction Dive article – just became to first city to mandate roof gardens on new construction. It’s becoming more common yet, at the same time, San Francisco is moving the other way. De-greening, permitting lot line to lot line housing blocks in the SOMA and allowing loopholes such as this in lieu POPOS fee.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      You keep talking about the growing opposition to the Central soma plan.

      Is there any evidence of this so called opposition?

      • Posted by Cynthia

        “Is there any evidence of this so called opposition?”

        Attend a hearing or two and you might learn of it.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          Attend any hearing and you can witness someone complaining about something. That doesn’t count. Is the opposition organized? Do they have any elected officials on their side?

  3. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Bring it on. Shadows? boo hoo. POPOS? sorely underused across the city; better to fund maintenance of parks people actually use.

    • Posted by Futurist

      I agree. the whole constant shadow issue is just bs. The sun moves. shadows move. big deal.

      If you want to go sit in the sun, move over there.

      • Posted by SFJohn

        As the planet gets warmer, and as someone who grew up in Arizona and has plenty of ‘sun issues’ (red head, fair skin) I more & more look for the shade or “Shadowy” spots & I think I’m not the only one

    • Posted by Dave

      Maintenance should be funded under existing city revenue streams. That the city needs additional funds to keep parks up tells you this city’s government is an inefficient money pit. Visit Lake Merced on a weekday and see all the DPW workers hanging out there. Pretty blatantly. Not all city workers of course, but a significant number are milking it. Great pay, little supervision and nice retirements benefits.

      The roads are a mess – it takes months to fill pot holes on busy streets. The streets themselves are filthy in many part of the city.

      POPOS is a scam insofar as the city siphons off funds to make up for its waste. Then even when an actual POPOS is established it’s often on a high floor basically inaccessible to pedestrians. A few years later the building owner cuts a deal to close down the POPOS as the Intercontinental Hotel and Salesforce have done.

  4. Posted by Brew

    Interesting that CitizenM’s website shows that a 186 room hotel going in San Francisco in Union Square. But nothing about this one.

    [Editor’s Note: As we first reported earlier this year: Plans for Boutique Union Square Hotel Back in Play.]

    • Posted by Orland

      Then, are we to understand that this location would be instead of rather than in addition to the Ellis St. proposal?

      • Posted by SocketSite

        No. You’re supposed to understand that in addition to CitizenM’s planned Union Square hotel, they’re also working on plans for an 18-story hotel to rise right here.

        • Posted by Amewsed

          Interesting CitizenM would do two hotels in a relatively small city. The Union Square one would market to tourists looking for a more central location, while this one would market to tech and business convention attendees.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Consider the popularity of AirBNB. There is a market for more hotel rooms.

        • Posted by Orland

          I think that seems like more of a possibly incorrect assumption unless there is evidence to the contrary. The Ellis St. location was no more than “in play.” Perhaps, they’ve shifted their focus. I’d actually like to know.

  5. Posted by Dave

    Interesting they are thinking of opening a second hotel. Just read a piece about hotel industry veteran and leader Schraeger. He’s transformed famous hotels around the world including the Clift in SF He sees AirBnB as a mortal threat to the hotel industry. 50% of AirBnB users in 2016 stayed w/ AirBnB instead of a hotel. 19% of business travelers (2016) now use AirBnB. AirBnB just paired with WeWork to take more of the business travel business.

    Scraeger recently opened Public in NYC which has self check-in and no staff essentially. Only amenity is a world class restaurant. He’s hoping to take on the AirBnB threat but is one of the few in the industry who sees it as a major threat. Guess the owners of CitizenM don’t consider it so.

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