1028 Market Street Site

Plans to level the the Golden Gate Building at 1028 Market Street, which was previously home to Hollywood Billiards and is now occupied by “The Hall,” and develop a new 13-story building – with 186 apartments over 4 ground-floor restaurant/retail spaces and a basement garage for 42 cars on the site – could be cut short by its Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

1028 Market Street Rendering

As we first reported earlier this year, the Golden Gate Building is considered a historical resource and contributor to the historic Market Street Theatre and Loft (MSTL) District. And as such, the City determined that the proposed project would require a full EIR in order to move forward.

According to the draft report which was just released, the project as proposed would result in “two significant and unavoidable impacts to the MSTL District resulting from: the demolition of a contributing historic resource to the MSTL District, and new construction of a building that would be incompatible with the MSTL District.” And per the report, the environmentally superior alternative “that best avoids or lessens [the] significant effects of the proposed project, even if the alternative would impede, to some degree, the attainment of the project objectives,” is a “No Project” alternative.

That being said, per California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, “if the No Project Alternative is environmentally superior, CEQA requires selection of the ‘environmentally superior alternative other than the no project alternative’ from among the proposed project [and other] alternatives evaluated.” And in this case, a “Full Preservation Alternative” has been identified as the environmentally superior alternative, “because, unlike the proposed project, it would result in less-than-significant impacts related to historic architectural resources” and result in the least amount of physical alteration to the 1028 Market Street building.

The aforementioned Full Preservation Alternative consists of nothing more than a two-story and 20 residential unit addition to the existing building, with a 25-foot setback from Market Street. And as the alternative with the least amount of physical alteration (other than No Project at all), “it would result in the fewest physical impacts to the environment” and would not conflict with those policies in the City’s Downtown Area Plan that call for the preservation of buildings identified as historical resources.

A public hearing to discuss the draft report has been slated for October 27, after which San Francisco’s Planning Commission will once again be tasked with deciding how the 1028 Market Street project will be allowed to proceed.

The parcel to the west of 1028 Market is being developed by Shorenstein, with plans for a 300-unit building designed by Arquitectonica to rise on the 1066 Market Street site.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Greg

    Stupid sh*t like this makes me so happy I bought a place in SF. We will never build enough supply to meet demand, and prices will continue to rise. The existing building is a total dump and in any sane city, would have been torn down without any controversy.

    • Posted by Elitist Pig

      Calling the existing building a dump is an insult to dumps.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Exactly! This just makes my little condo more valuable

  2. Posted by Cody

    An ugly building the city wants to protect? A billiard hall is part of the entertainment district? I think there is too much sentimentality in San Francisco. There are much better properties that need protection & this is not one of them.

  3. Posted by David

    Yes, this is insane.

  4. Posted by woolie

    Good news for San Francisco! Where else in the city can you find dumpy two story buildings?

  5. Posted by jlasf

    Can’t we all see the unique architectural importance of these buildings? Nowhere but San Francisco could create a building of such sublime beauty. Its elegant lines would stand out even among the architectural gems of London and Paris. Among the great buildings of the world, this stands as magnificent example of epic grandeur. A facade of this importance must be preserved at all costs. * *Please note sarcasm.

    • Posted by Dave

      It’s actually not so much this particular building but the overall context of the historic district. Mostly 2, 3 and 4 stories. The proposal would have overwhelmed the nature of the historic district. Note that short of the no project alternative there is another alternative. Add 2 floors to the existing building which will keep any development there at a scale which complements the district.

      • Posted by Mark

        Regarding your alternative, if that’s the case, then all of the financial district would be 4 stories max.

        Proposal looks great. Compliments the historic corner structure and adds much-needed housing on a transit-rich corridor.

        • Posted by Dave

          The financial district has not been designated an historic district so the argument is irrelevant. Jackson Square has ben so designated so the 2, 3 and 4 story limits there.

          Sounds like this proposal is DOA. The only question is how can the Shorenstein proposal be approved now? It violates the scale of the district every bit as much as this proposal.

          • Posted by Mark

            Actually, most of New Montgomery is a protected area.

          • Posted by Dave

            I didn’t know that about New Montgomery. I was referring to the north of Market financial district.

          • Posted by cwilly

            Shorenstein is building on a surface parking lot, so they aren’t replacing a historic resource

      • Posted by woolie

        I don’t believe in context. Who created the idea of context and why. It’s terrible concept.

      • Posted by Frisco

        The Golden Gate Theater is 8 stories. Literally across the street and just as historic. What’s this nonsense about the surrounding context being only 2-4 stories?

        • Posted by jason

          Not to mention the David Hewes building on the south-east corner of 6th and Market, which is 15 stories…

      • Posted by Chris

        Just leave it empty, and stop doing any maintenance. As long as it is boarded up, you are not creating a nuisance. Eventually, it will have to become too unstable and have to be torn down from neglect, or you can simply wait things out until there is turn-over in the Planning Department, and then resubmit. That is what I would do as the developer. If you do not need positive cash-flow from the property, which I doubt the developer does, then hold it as a long-term investment until you can build what you want. The day almost always comes, if you are willing to be patient.

        • Posted by Orland

          A kitchen flue fire let get out of hand would do the job much quicker. Let us hope.

  6. Posted by Dave

    This has been designated an historic district for a while so the developer should have been aware of that and the iffy chances a major project would be OK’d here. Imagine if the Fox theatre had been preserved – if only. It too would fall into this district I believe.

    The housing argument is a non-starter. Short of BMRs and the few lucky folks who win that lottery, these new o units will rent for beaucoup bucks and be unaffordable to many an average San Franciscan. Building more has not lowered housing prices in SF.

    The lesson here should be learned as regards the Central SOMA. Not historic, but any up-zoning will only lead to these type of over-priced (for the average person) blocky projects.

    Keeping the SOMA at 85 feet maximum will help stop short the speculation there. It will force development to use existing structures and build new structures to the existing low-rise scale. It will help keep prices from not rising as quickly – possibly anyway, as the huge jobs/housing imbalance almost certainly will aggravate affordability more.

    I don’t know what the planning commission will do but I suspect they are backed into a corner and will have to deny the project and go with the environmentally superior other project. Otherwise a lawsuit is a good bet. If the developer chooses to not go with the two story addition it is what it is.

    Is the adjacent Shorenstein project threatened too?

    • Posted by 101

      No doubt you are feeling fuzzy and happy inside that a project like this will possibly be denied. Any person, who was born in this City, would never guess the significance of this so called historic district. I could see the importance of keeping this building if it was an upscale area with fine restaurants and art galleries or warfield like performance theaters. But it is not.

      • Posted by donjuan

        Ugh. Yes 6th and Market is historically a place to avoid for all locals. That’s the history behind this area. Interesting that the city wants to preserve this.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      The idea that this is an “historic district” is laughable. This section of Market Street is ideal for dense development. There is literally no place better suited than Market Street.

    • Posted by Chris

      As I noted above, likely the developer will just keep this empty and hold on to it empty until they can build something closer to what they want. The building is already in terrible condition, if there is ever another mid to large earthquake, which there will be, it is coming down immediately. And, even if there are no earthquakes for several years, if you leave it boarded up long enough, it will eventually just become unsalvageable.

      In any event, the Planning Commission does have the legal authority, if it can articulate reasons, for not following the preferred recommendation in an EIR, and going with a different proposal. Yes, someone will sue, but this is San Francisco, and someone always sues, so developers usually factor this risk in to their proposals. Even if the EIR supported the proposed development as the recommended choice, someone would still sue and claim the EIR was flawed. So, the threat of a lawsuit, in and of itself, is not going to back anyone in a corner.

    • Posted by skflsndf

      The problem is SF is making every district historic.

  7. Posted by HousingWonk

    There is nothing worthwhile here to save. The idea that we should preserve the 2- and 3-story heights along the major commercial corridor of San Francisco is completely insane. If we aren’t going to build density along Market Street where the heck are we going to? At a certain point, San Francisco disappears so far up its own rear end that I can’t tell which is satire: South Park’s caricature of San Francisco or the real thing.

  8. Posted by Matt M

    Dave you make absolutely no sense. You are against every development in the City and simply hope prices decline. Do you look at the job growth numbers in San Francisco? That growth is generally a good thing but it has downsides – which can at least be partly mitigated by constructive policy. Key word – constructive. Simply saying no and trying to draw up the drawbridge will not stop capitalism and growth at the city border. The only reason prices and rents are leveling off is due to the increase in supply. The economy and job growth haven’t cooled off.

  9. Posted by SFMichael

    I honestly can’t think a part of The City that would be better served by a building like what has been proposed then here.

    • Posted by Orland

      Agreed. That’s one environment requiring impaction — by wrecking ball!

  10. Posted by Montgomery

    What joke. Nothing worth saving. Overbearing bureaucracy at its worst.

  11. Posted by mjtowns

    Outrageous. What a disgusting piece of architecture. God forbid we should tear down this “historical resource” from the other treasured buildings along our urine saturated boulevard. Unbelievable!

  12. Posted by RJ

    If this building counts as historical then city policy should be to knock down historical buildings

  13. Posted by BuildHighAndDense

    The board of supervisors need to step in and cut some red tape on this one. Jane Kim is already measuring for curtains for her office in Sacramento, so I wouldn’t expect any help from her.

  14. Should be the city’s responsibility to help significantly in funding these historic buildings and districts back to pristine condition rather than simply placing restrictions on decaying properties in bad neighborhoods. Otherwise, step back and let the city thrive.

  15. Posted by Orland

    Unbelievably needless and misdirected slavishness to the past. Is there a mechanism in the statute by which to reject the report’s recommendations on the grounds that the proposal presents vastly superior benefit than preservation?

  16. Posted by Andy

    What a joke. I live near here and it’s insane to think the existing building would contribute anything to the neighborhood other than a waste of space for more density.

  17. Posted by SFRealist

    I admit to not reading the Market Street Theatre and Loft District description.

    Does it also protect the stench of stale urine?

    • Posted by Sara Short

      The scent of “compassion” in San Francisco.

    • Perhaps, if we’re lucky, the building will collapse from urine saturation.

      • Posted by SFRealist

        Not to be a cynic, but would anyone be surprised if there was suddenly a fire that broke out on this property, destroying it completely? We’ve seen it before….

  18. Posted by Sara Short

    Maybe in ten years all the vagrant campers tents will be become “historic architectural resources”. It will just get crazier, you know it will.

  19. Posted by Sam

    This proves it again, CEQA and historic preservation are used to kill the most worthwhile projects. This is how CEQA and historic preservation ordinances are used in SF. Sickening.

  20. Posted by Government Shrinkage

    I eat there 3 or 4 times a week. I work kitty corner in a **15 story*** building. We are governed by morons. Literally morons. Anyone who wants to work for the City of San Francisco has to have a room-temperature IQ.

  21. Posted by checker

    What’s there now is a disgrace but that proposed building is just as hideous, what’s with the blank wall all up the western side?

    • Posted by Metroliner

      That’s the massing for the adjoining project, which won’t be a blank wall.

  22. Posted by Metroliner

    How does this effect 1066 Market? It’s an equally tall building with a historical component, too. Does this set the stage to imperil that as well?

  23. Posted by Matt

    San Francisco bureaucrats playing god, a tiresome over stepping of public process. If Market Street is one of the highest transited streets in the US allow density for goodness sake!

  24. Posted by I Got This

    This is mainly a procedural issue requiring disclosure, which will influence but not dictate the substantive outcome. The City’s hearing for the project approval will need to acknowledge the significant impacts on the historic district and the building, but approval of the 13 story project can then proceed supported by overriding considerations; one of which will surely be the financial in-feasibility of a 20 unit project, and another likely consideration the City’s dire need for more housing. To be sure, this will be another obstacle to breaking ground, but certainly not insurmountable. Furhter, the disclosure of these significant impacts will actually bolster the project against any future NIMBY lawsuits under CEQA.

    • Posted by Orland

      Thank you for that information and assurance.

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