Redesigning The Heart Of Chinatown (Portsmouth Square)
Originally a dirt plaza that served as the civic and commercial hub of the settlement of Yerba Buena and the site of San Francisco's first City Hall, Portsmouth Square along Kearny Street between Washington and Clay has evolved into the unofficial "heart of Chinatown."
Nestled amidst office towers and neighborhood shops, Portsmouth Square provides a much-needed relief from the crush of people on nearby streets – Chinatown is the most densely-populated urban area west of Manhattan, and accessible parks and open spaces are in limited supply. The Square provides a gathering space where residents can build a sense of community through an array of cultural, recreational and social activities – everything from tai chi and Chinese line dance lessons, to informal socializing with neighbors, to active play at the playgrounds, to afternoon card games. In addition to the critical role the square serves for local residents, Portsmouth Square continues to attract visitors from around the region and the world, hosting frequent walking tours, festivals, and other special events.
Last redesigned in the 1980’s, Portsmouth Square and the buffer blocks from Sacramento to Jackson are about to be "reimagined" by San Francisco's Planning and Recreation and Parks Departments with a goal of creating "an enhanced public space and streetscape that is dynamic, multicultural, adaptable to diverse users and events, and reflective of local culture and history."
A feasibility study for the Portsmouth Square Area Project will be drafted over the first half of 2014 with concept designs to be developed in the second half of the year. A detailed design, review and approvals for the project are slated for delivery in 2015.
December 9, 2013
Panning (And Planning) For Liquid Gold On Hyde Street
If approved, the 1,346 square foot former ReJoyce Books store across from the Nob Hill Trader Joe’s and CVS on Hyde Street will be turned into Liquid Gold, "a public beer and wine tasting room and retail store specializing in local craft beer and small-batch wines."
Despite opposition from one vocal member of the public who is concerned with an over-concentration of bars, alcohol related criminal activity, and an "influx of chronic inebriates occupying sidewalks" in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood, the Planning Department is recommending that the Planning Commission approve Liquid Gold’s application to operate at 1040 Hyde Street.
A Bonus Bath! On The Roof.
The plumbed bathtub on the roof of 28 Prosper Street isn’t included in the official two bathroom count for the Castro home, but it is fully functional as far as we know. Purchased for $1,300,000 in 2006, the kitchen was remodeled in 2008 with green granite and a Bertazzoni gas range:
(Continue reading: "A Bonus Bath! On The Roof.")
Plans For Rapid Transit Down Geary Boulevard Are Rolling Again
With the development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) having been approved for Van Ness Avenue, the Transportation Authority's recommended plan for a Geary BRT line from Downtown San Francisco to the Outer Richmond will be presented to the public this evening at 6pm in the Richmond Recreation Center (251 18th Ave) and at 5:30pm on December 17 in the Main Library (100 Larkin).
The projected cost for Geary BRT is around $200 million with design and engineering currently slated to take until 2017 and construction a couple of years. The feasibility study for a Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit line was first adopted by the Transportation Authority Board in 2007.
The Second Church of Christ Scientist's Second Coming As Condos
A plan to raze the Second Church of Christ Scientist church on the southeast corner of Dolores and Cumberland and build a smaller church and eight dwelling units on the site was drafted back in 2006 but ran into a wall of neighborhood opposition and was never approved.
Having since been yellow-tagged by the City as an unreinforced masonry building which doesn’t meet current seismic standards, plans to reinforce the building and convert the vacant 22,000 square foot church into four residential units are moving forward with the Planning Department's recommendation that the proposed conversion be approved this week.
As we first reported about the proposed "Light House" project in September, new partition walls within the existing auditorium and mezzanine would divide the space for three of the new dwelling units while an all new penthouse level would be created by raising the suspended ceiling seven feet and adding a new 3,020 square foot floor beneath the dome:
(Continue reading: "The Second Church of Christ Scientist's Second Coming As Condos")
Will See’s Succeed While Starbucks And Chipotle Were Rejected?
San Francisco's Planning Commission recently adopted "a standardized method for determining the existing and appropriate concentration of formula retail uses in the Upper Market Neighborhood that extends from Octavia Boulevard to Castro Street," a policy which requires the Planning Department to recommend the rejection of any project which would bring the concentration of formula retail within 300 feet of a site to 20 percent or greater.
This week, the Commission will decided whether to selectively reject their adopted standard and approve the application for See's Candies to take over the Mike's Cameras spot in the Safeway Shopping Center on Market Street, an existing formula retail site with a 33 percent concentration.
While recommending See's application be denied as is required per the standard, the Planning Department does have this to say about the proposal:
The proposed formula retail use will replace a pre-existing formula retail store and continue to add to the neighborhood character and diversity. Formula retail businesses offering similar products have a competitive advantage over non-formula retail businesses because they are often better capitalized and therefore can commit to longer and more expensive leases. This can make for fewer storefront vacancies and more neighborhood stability.
The Planning Commission's standard was the basis for rejecting proposals from Starbucks and Chipotle to take over two vacant spaces on Market Street, in part due to an argument that formula retailers have an unfair competitive advantage and drive up rents versus providing a stabilizing effect.
There are currently nine vacant commercial storefronts within the Upper Market Neighborhood.
∙ The Chips Don’t Fall In Chipotle’s Favor: Request Denied [SocketSite]
∙ Starbucks' Market Street Plan Shot Down By Planning [SocketSite]
December 6, 2013
Designs For Group Housing On Market Street 2.0
As we first reported last month, plans to raze the two-story FastFrame building on the northwest corner of Market and Gough and build a 7-story building with 42 "single room occupancy" units over 1,500 square feet of ground floor retail have been submitted to Planning for review.
While the Market Octavia plan requires 40 percent of all new developments in the area to be two-bedrooms, group housing is exempted from the rule. And with "limited individual kitchen facilities" in each of the 42 proposed
units rooms and a shared kitchen and gathering area, the 1700 Market Street project is positioned as group housing with market-rate rents.
The concept floor plans for the rooms which range in size from 280 to 530 square feet:
The proposed mezzanine level with the communal "group" kitchen, lounge and meeting room:
(Continue reading: "Designs For Group Housing On Market Street 2.0")
Behind The Contemporary Ebony Facade On Castro Street
Purchased for one million dollars this past January, the former 1,200 square foot Noe home at 2220 Castro Street has since been redesigned and rebuilt with an ebony shingled façade, colorful front door, and a nearly 4,000 square foot contemporary interior.
A double-sided porcelain fireplace separates the dining area from the sunken living room.
At the other end of the floor, the kitchen opens onto a glass terrace and landscaped patio:
(Continue reading: "Behind The Contemporary Ebony Facade On Castro Street")
December 5, 2013
The Plan To Transform Central SoMa's Streets
Acknowledging that the existing Central SoMa transportation network isn't sufficient today, much less sufficient to support a potential doubling of residents and workers in the area as proposed, a plan to improve the network, streets, and environment for pedestrians in SoMa has been drafted.
The six key principles that guided the development of the draft plan:
1. Create a safe, convenient, attractive environment for pedestrians
2. Design transit routes to serve the area and improve performance
3. Improve bicycling conditions
4. Employ Transportation Demand Management Measures
5. Restrict curb cuts
6. Where and when necessary, accommodate regional and through traffic
Proposed improvements include a plethora of new mid-block crosswalks, wider sidewalks, cycle tracks and the redevelopment of Folsom Street as a civic boulevard as has long been proposed.
The Impact Study for the proposed transportation plan should be finalized by May of 2014 with a Draft Environmental Report for the project slated to be ready in September.
The Yellow Cab Cooperative Of San Francisco's Next Move
As we reported earlier this week, the Yellow Cab Cooperative of San Francisco is offering to sell its six-acre headquarters at 1200 Mississippi Street for $16,000,000 and deliver it vacant. While we didn't have the official word on what the next move for the Cooperative might be, now we do.
From the Cooperative's President and General Manager:
"Yellow Cab Cooperative of San Francisco is alive and well. Because we have grown from 300 cabs to almost 600 cabs and growing, we are looking for a larger facility or we will build a parking garage at 1200 Mississippi Street. For that reason, we put out a feeler to see if there is interest in purchasing our existing property.
We are embracing all the new technology with new Apps and a growing fleet to better respond to our high demand. We are aligning ourselves to be not only bigger but better in 2014!"
A proposal to build a 7-story parking structure with 603 spaces for the Cooperative on a portion of the site had been considered back in 1999. The site is currently zoned for development up to 65 feet in height.
∙ San Francisco's Yellow Cab Cooperative Could Be Cashing Out [SocketSite]
Appeal Of Potrero Development Denied, Approval Finalized
Having sat underdeveloped since 2005, the development of 480 Potrero Avenue was approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission this past August but then appealed two weeks later, an appeal which was denied by San Francisco's Board of Appeals last month.
Since a rehearing request was not filed within 10 calendar days of the Board's decision, the project approval for 480 Potrero Avenue became final on December 3.
As soon as a building permit is issued, construction on the six-story building rendered above with 75 new residential units over 970 square feet of ground-floor retail and 47 parking spaces at the corner of Potrero and Mariposa can now commence on the site.
Opened Up Then Divided, And Fired Up Inside And Out
While the living area has been opened up, the front bedroom of the top-floor Noe condo at 142 27th Street has been divided in order to create space for a nursery (click triptych to enlarge).
And on a chilly morning following a chilly eve, our attention is divided between the wood burning fireplace in the living room and the built-in fire pit out back:
(Continue reading: "Opened Up Then Divided, And Fired Up Inside And Out")