1285 Sutter Rendering
Permits to demolish the long shuttered Galaxy Theater at 1285 Sutter Street and erect a 13-story building with 107 condominiums over 10,000 square feet of retail (Trader Joe’s lease for which expired) and basements for 127 parking spaces were approved last week.
As a plugged-in tipster reports, the site which was purchased by Portland, Oregon based developer Gerding Edlen for $9.25 million (versus an $18 million ask in 2008) has since been fenced off and demolition is imminent.
If all goes as currenlty scheduled, the new building should be construction complete and ready for occupany and retailing in early 2013. As always, we’ll keep you plugged-in.
1285 Sutter Street Rendering
UPDATE: As a couple of plugged-in readers quickly note, while Trader Joe’s was once slated to occupy the ground floor retail at 1285 Sutter as rendered above, it’s rather unlikely they’ll do so considering their plans to open at 1401 California.
1285 Sutter: Fully Entitled, Retail Pre-Leased, And…On The Market [SocketSite]
From Cala To Condos To Trader Joe’s At 1401 California [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by scurvy

    Why would Trader Joes put in 2 stores less than 5 blocks from each other? Did you forget that TJ’s is going into Cala at the end of this year? Or is TJ pulling out of the Cala project? God I’d love it if TJ’s pulled out of Cala and we got a Fresh and Easy instead. Send TJ’s to Sutter St. instead!
    [Editor’s Note: They wouldn’t. And yes, we did completely space on the revised plans for 1401 California. That’s what we get for skipping the espressos this morning.]

  2. Posted by anon

    I can’t imagine that Trader Joe’s is going to put a location here if they’re also putting one in the old Cala Foods at California/Hyde.

  3. Posted by cc

    This area of Van Ness seems to have some good momentum. In addition to this project, the Ellis Brooks building is getting a significant renovation and CPMC could have two flashy new buildings. That’s four projects within a couple blocks of each other.

  4. Posted by knock

    well, I was hoping for something a little nicer … the yellow brick is ugly and the stucco thing behind it isn’t much nicer … but ANYTHING is better than the rotting galaxy theater. Can’t wait for that thing to come down and for the bum pee and pigeon crap to dissipate

  5. Posted by Move

    “Can’t wait for that thing to come down and for the bum pee and pigeon crap to dissipate”
    Hey this is a City, if you don’t like it move to Marin. As the progs say.

  6. Posted by sf

    Great density. Finally a project that gets it right. Especially considering it is replacing a single story movie theater.

  7. Posted by Modernqueen

    Overall, nice massing, good setbacks and articulation of fenestration, balconies, and breakdown of scale at the street side.
    Good use of the site for housing density near retail and transpo.

  8. Posted by marvinsnephew

    God is this thing as innocuous and dull as can be?! Only in SF can you take a significant location (Van Ness) and be encouraged by the planning code and the planners and the developer to make something as banal as can be. This town can never really be world class until it figures out how to encourage and celebrate world class architecture.

  9. Posted by k

    marvinsnephew, agreed — except more so with respect to the recently dumbed down (more like moroned down) CPMC medical offices on geary/van ness. Take a look at renderings before and after the planning commission got their uninspired little hands on them.

  10. Posted by lyqwyd

    I like it and agree with Modernqueen. It may be on the simple side, but not every building is going to be an architectural masterpiece.
    I think it’s a perfectly reasonable use of the space.

  11. Posted by Willow

    This design and color palette is very similar to the Ellington in Jack London Square over in Oakland. Take a look for yourself…

  12. Posted by embarcadero

    WHy so many parking spaces? Did they get some kind of variance? I thought it was supposed to be 2:1?
    I favor the project – and agree that not every building is going to be a masterpiece – this one isn’t.
    But we don’t need a home for another 127 automobiles in this location. It’s a bad idea.

  13. Posted by anon

    ^A lot of those parking spaces are set aside for the retail component.
    Agreed that the total is an overwhelmingly gigantic amount though.

  14. Posted by Willow

    “But we don’t need a home for another 127 automobiles in this location.”
    Somewhat presumptuous that you know what other people need? We’ve had this discussion before on SS but I don’t understand the logic with restricting parking spaces. If alternative transit options exist those parking spaces will simply not be utilized. Big deal. Where’s the downside?

  15. Posted by Modernqueen

    Good point Willow. totally agree. We constantly hear this tired argument ad nauseum about too many cars, blah, blah, blah.
    Like you said: better transit (we have one of the worst in the nation), and people would use it.
    It’s not like those owners are suddenly gonna go out and buy a bike to get everywhere. Not gonna happen.

  16. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Where’s the downside?”
    Increased congestion is the most obvious downside. There are other impacts as well but it is ironic that you bring up the poor transit alternatives since surface transit is also impacted by congestion.
    So the more parking spaces we build the worse transit gets. It is almost a self fulfilling prophecy.

  17. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    San Francisco actually has one of the better transit systems in America, it is sad to say.
    US News and World Report has us at #13:
    By ridership it is quite a bit higher. And as MoD points out, the main reason transit is slow in San Francisco is congestion, which is caused by all the cars on the road.

  18. Posted by Willow

    “So the more parking spaces we build the worse transit gets. It is almost a self fulfilling prophecy.”
    You’re somehow assuming the restriction of residential parking spaces correlates to better transit and less congestion. It simply doesn’t. Real improvements in public transit need to be made first before people start to consider alternatives; otherwise vehicle owners will continue to use their car regardless of parking. It will just be less convenient for them to do so. By arbitrarily restricting parking you’re avoiding the real issue which is the underlying public transit infrastructure.

  19. Posted by sf

    As if building less parking doesn’t have a direct effect on traffic in the city? All the friends that I know that live in dense neighborhoods with no parking garages do not own cars. The people that I know that live in the less dense areas with plentiful parking all own cars. There is a direct correlation.
    How many bike parking spaces are included in the plans? For a Portland developer they sure are thinking in archaic 20th century terms. 127 is way too much- we’re talking Burlingame parking style here. I’m not against all parking but this is just a ridiculous amount.

  20. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Willow – There’s no doubt that adding parking attracts more cars. And there’s no doubt that adding cars increases congestion. When street congestion increases surface transit suffers. The relationship between parking and congestion is very clear and is the basis for parking policy in most dense cities.
    I agree with you that Muni should be improved. But improvement that is immune to street congestion would need to be underground (or aerial but we know that’s not going to happen). Subways are very expensive and we can barely afford to tunnel from Caltrain to Chinatown. So don’t expect transit to be improved with tunnels in the near future. We’re stuck with surface options for the most part. Because of that it is important to keep congestion under control.
    I wish I had a better answer to improve Muni. But just because Muni isn’t as good as it could be is not an excuse to degrade it even further with increased congestion.

  21. Posted by Modernqueen

    Let’s talk about some of the deep internal problems currently plaguing Muni: the huge percentage of drivers who call in “sick”; some of the lazy, fat, rude drivers who disrespect the passengers, the over paid management who merely sits around waiting for their fat, secure pensions to kick in; the buses that constantly bunch up in 2 and 3 together half filled; the unions who support all of the above.
    Until we begin to address those deep problems, we will have a dysfunctional transit system, and cars will be used by many people to get around.

  22. Posted by @Modernqueen

    So change the entire socio- political psychology of San Francisco? That’s gonna take some time…

  23. Posted by embarcadero

    The downside is simple: if we have parking spots that are not utilized by residents or shoppers, they will be leased to locals, deflating the price of parking.
    This creates an artificial economic incentive to drive. More congestion = poorer transit.
    Yes, we’ve had this dicussion before. And the basic math has not changed.
    More parking is a terrible idea. It creates an indirect – or even direct – incentive to own and operate an automobile in the most densely populated part of San Francisco.
    I like the project, but parking for cars is a terrible idea.
    If SF won’t honor the transit first policy, the only solution is to seek a huge tax on parking.
    We will do this.

  24. Posted by anon

    Where’s the downside?
    Um, the overwhelming of the street network. The point is this – condos/apartments without parking attract owners/renters without cars at a much higher rate than those with parking. So…adding more housing without parking has a quantifiable increase in the number of people, but not as much so in the number of cars. You can’t have a city built around people if you’re only interesting in attracting people that are mostly interested in a city built around cars.

  25. Posted by anon

    You’re somehow assuming the restriction of residential parking spaces correlates to better transit and less congestion.
    Um, because it does? There have been countless studies done on this, and presented as evidence before on SS, yet everyone here seems to go with the tried and true anecdotal evidence of “my friend doesn’t have a parking spot but totally still has a car!” or “people just leave their cars in the parking spots during the day, so it totally doesn’t contribute to congestion.”
    Data is your friend, people.

  26. Posted by anon

    @modernqueen – I agree with you that those problems should be tackled.
    What do they have to do with parking?
    Excellent use of a red herring though.

  27. Posted by sfrenegade

    One big fallacy I see here: we can’t fix Muni without restricting parking: not true, it’s more that special interest groups prevent it.
    These parking vs. no-parking fights are getting tired, but this was a glaring error:
    “127 is way too much- we’re talking Burlingame parking style here.”
    127 parking spots for 107 units is Burlingame style? You’ve obviously never been to Burlingame or you are a master of hyperbole.
    “The point is this – condos/apartments without parking attract owners/renters without cars at a much higher rate than those with parking.”
    Isn’t this an obvious statement? If you have no parking, people without cars will preference your place above people with cars? That has nothing to do with anything and doesn’t actually help us make a policy decision.
    The problem is that everyone wants to be an agenda pusher, but no one has an actual idea or solution.

  28. Posted by anon

    Isn’t this an obvious statement? If you have no parking, people without cars will preference your place above people with cars? That has nothing to do with anything and doesn’t actually help us make a policy decision.
    Um, exactly it’s an obvious statement. Not sure why you left out my previous sentence that explained WHY it is desired policy. We live in a city where the street network cannot be expanded (in other words, streets widened), so it makes absolute policy sense in every way imaginable to not overwhelm that network.
    I’d be fine with other market-based ideas to do that instead of restricting parking – ie congestion pricing, etc, but those seem to be politically impossible, so the only way is to have a hard limit on new vehicles added to the system.

  29. Posted by Travis

    @sfrenegade – basically anon’s idea is that we are not anywhere close to reaching our capacity for humans in the city, but there are many streets that are at capacity for vehicles during much of the day.
    It’s understandable (and economically wise) policy to try and get more humans without getting more cars, since we have lots of space for humans but not as much for cars. As anon mentions, there are other more market-based ways to do this, but those ideas seem to be completely off the table, so the command economy way seems to be the only one that can actually be pursued.

  30. Posted by sfrenegade

    “I’d be fine with other market-based ideas to do that instead of restricting parking – ie congestion pricing, etc, but those seem to be politically impossible”
    Except that they’re not. Many more parking meters have demand-based pricing now.
    One thing to note is that San Franciscans (as a whole) are still pretty convinced that single family housing is the way it must be in most of SF, except for the parts of the city they consider to be the dense parts (e.g. downtown, parts South of Market). I don’t think you can fix the car situation in the way you’re saying without changing this belief, especially when if you talk about anything over 3 stories, some jackass says something about Manhattanization or “we’re becoming Hong Kong.”
    Again, I don’t think either ideology (and that’s what we’re talking about here in some cases) is likely correct. There is certainly a market for housing without parking SF, but there is also a huge market for housing with parking in SF, and both sides often seem unwilling to imagine that the other exists. In the meantime, the ideologues can continue making circular arguments.

  31. Posted by Travis

    There’s a market for both in spades. The point is that housing for either with parking or without will sell, so which is better for the city to encourage/force.
    In general, I just want more by-right development. So…zone for a certain height/number of parking spaces/etc, then hands off. No allowances given, etc. This may mean that the value of land where parking is constricted will fall, if those units will sell for less than units with parking, but that’s ok (or should be). In return, the value of units with parking (including those single family homes that you speak of) should rise.

  32. Posted by Travis

    Also, market-pricing of meters is nice, but really quite separate from an overloaded street network being caused by too much parking being built in the first place. You’d have to market-price the time actually on the streets to fix the congestion there.
    Think of a phone network – putting market prices only on the plug that connects you to the network doesn’t do much to manage congestion when you actually use the phone. However, controlling how many plugs exist in the first place would be a roundabout way to control how many are using the network. It’s not ideal (as with restricting parking), but again, no one seems willing to market-price actually using the streets.

  33. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    sfrenegade – In general you’re right that land use policy is intertwined with transportation policy. We can’t expect too much transit improvement in the outer Sunset. There pretty much every home comes with 1-3 parking spaces already. But this Sutter location is in an already dense congested part of the city. One that is sensitive to adding more cars.
    As for a solution to the Muni problem let me offer an idea. This won’t be popular because it involves some amount of pain in the transition but it at least is feasible within funding constraints. It also employs mostly market forces to drive the change with a dash of government intervention to protect a shared resource.
    The government intervention part comes in the form of, surprise, limits on parking. That and the requirement that new parking in multiunit housing be decoupled from the housing itself. This protects the street network from being overloaded while giving a nudge that allows market forces to influence people’s transportation decisions.
    As we add more people market forces will influence more to use non car transport: biking, walking, transit. More people on transit creates more economies of scale allowing Muni to operate more efficiently.
    But what about the suckiness of Muni service? The poor management of Muni is a separate issue and one more tied to politics than anything. As more people switch to Muni the average affluence of the Muni rider rises. The typical rider will be less likely to be a disenfranchised citizen on the margins of society and shift more towards the typical white collar worker. Lawyers and engineers and such make excellent complainers. They vote and organize and can create the power to dislodge Muni’s management inertia.
    This is just off of the top of my head so please keep in mind that this is basically a framework for positive change. Continuously adding parking to the West’s densest city will just create a tragedy of the commons in our ground transportation infrastructure.

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