818 Van Ness: Rendering
818 Van Ness Avenue is an eight (8) story mixed-use condominium project of 52 residential units above two new retail spaces (810 and 826 Van Ness). The design is by Forum Design. The building should be on the market in early 2008. And yes, they’re already accounted for in our Complete Inventory Index (Cii).
SocketSite’s Complete Inventory Index (CII): Q3 2007 (SF) [SocketSite]

43 thoughts on “The SocketSite Scoop On The 52 Condos Rising At 818 Van Ness Ave”
  1. I am going to push the boat out and say, attractive.
    Good addition Van Ness at Willow, just down from the movie theatre redevelopment announced last week.
    Which neighbor benefits more from these developments Polk Street or MidMarket?

  2. I like this building as well, and NO palm tress for once. Imagine, a new condo project in this city that does not try to pretend like it is in Santa Monica. This fits well into the Van Ness context and I like the building because it looks residential instead of an office tower like some recent condo projects.

  3. What’s up with the “fitting into context” argument that we hear over and over? We have plenty of older buildings here in the city…why not something, new, modern and bold that doesn’t pretend to be disguised as a 1920s Edwardian. Who cares if it looks like a building in Santa Monica? Palm trees can also live in our climate and they give it a nice look. It doesn’t have to be the buildings that define the city, it can be just walking around and experiencing everything that SF has to offer.

  4. SFHighrise, this IS a modern building and I like it. What is nice about this design is that it takes as a starting point the scale on Van Ness as well as expressing through the facade that it is residential. What is distrubing about a lot of the new towers such as 1RH, is that to me they look like a dated 70’s office tower in Irvine or Century City. As for my palms comment, I think we have pretty much shown that we can have as many palm trees as Southern California, even if we don’t have the weather, but why? Why not start using landscape that actually grows here naturally? Let Los Angeles have the palm trees and green and blue glass colored high rises. I am a modernist, and design mordern structures, could care less about the Victorians, but am not interested in imitating L.A.

  5. Just a note to anondesigner – no palm trees grew “naturally” in LA either. All were brought from somewhere else. The only place in CA where there were natural palm trees was Palm Springs. I find it curious that no one complains about all of the Eucalyptus trees that were brought from the Phillipines – those aren’t natural here either, yet have taken over the majority of our parks (GG, Presidio, Stern’s Grove, etc, etc). Is it just because they don’t have them in LA that they’re considered acceptable?
    Back to the building – Good stuff. Bring more of it on.

  6. Brutus, I agree with your comments, and was aware of this information also. What is interesting is that I mentioned that this is a NICE design and it fits into the neighborhood “context”, and this caused the problem. My question is, why should a design not a address the context of the neighborhood? We are lucky to live in a city that has an identity and a fabric of density that many American cities would envy, why not continue to add to this success the way this project seems to have. I think this design is wonderful because it does not shout at you, but instead is contemporary and of the neighborhood scale. I would like to see buildings such as this out on Geary also.

  7. any news on when we can expect a more update Complete inventory index?
    About the condos… i like the design. any enws on pricing?

  8. anondesigner,
    I agree wholeheartedly with you.
    I would like to see buildings such as this out on Geary also.
    All the way to the ocean. I’d like to see them a bit taller on Geary between Van Ness and Fillmore.

  9. Palm trees have lined Dolores Street since it was first laid out..probably close to a century ago. They are perfectly appropriate in our environment..as well as more southern climates.

  10. Anondesigner – I do like this building. However, I strongly disagree with you that ORH looks dated from the 70s and that its not in context with the city. Give it a few years, when there are more towers in the area, and it will blend in better. I think that it is attractive and bold. I also think our city can use a few more shiny, glass highrises in the downtown area. There are too many bland cement buildings which really don’t give our skyline an interesting perspective. I use the LA skyline as an example. Sure, it doesn’t have the depth of the SF skyline, but I think some of the buildings look more interesting than a few exceptions (Transamerica, etc)

  11. You know what I like most about this building? It has an address instead of a pretentious name.
    Exactly JWB!
    Imagine! a building with the self confidence to resist the meaningless (eg Blu, Arterra, Citrina, The Odious, ad nauseum) nom-du-jour marketing moniker phenomenon.
    Altho it should be taller for the site – the design is self assured and it works — unlike the proposed jumble on Sutter and Van Ness. A little of this, a little of that — underwhelms.

  12. Palm trees don’t work well in urban environments. They take up space that could be used by other trees that actually filter the atmosphere, they drop heavy and spikey fronds all around, and they end up costing as much or more to take care of over their lifetimes. Santa Monica has been moving away from favoring palm trees because of these problems since at least 2003. Almost any tree is a better choice, though it is admittedly true that this idea that streetscapes should serve a purpose and provide a good return on investment is not universally accepted.

  13. Palm trees were chose to line streetcar routes like the F line because they don’t grow branches that could block the streetcars.
    Palms have their place in SF. RE: the comment about LA not having eucalyptus, someone hasn’t spent much time in LA– there is eucalyptus everywhere in LA.

  14. Dan,
    You’re right about the eucalyptus trees being in LA – I shouldn’t have said “don’t exist in LA”, but rather should have said, “don’t bring up thoughts of LA”.

  15. Why is there so much LA hatred towards LA? SF will never turn into LA as a concerte jungle without natural beauty and culture. However, I personally think that adding a few things to our mix (trendy bars/restaurants, luxury high rises, etc) is a good thing. Its not going to take away what is already San Francisco but will complement what is already there. It gives us more options. That is what is important to remember. If we truly want to think of ourselves as a world-class city, we need to be more open to expanding our horizons, not resting on our past laurels.

  16. Overall, this is better than many blah buildings being built, but it is still “squat & boxy” isn’t it? We should have more buildings like in NY and Chicago that have set-backs above a podium X number of stories, and allow for more height but in more slender footprint on the upper floors. Developments like this I fear will end up looking like those fat, squat offices South of Market near the Embarcadero…

  17. “Why is there so much LA hatred towards LA?”
    Cause LA deserves it. Also, a lot of people in SF moved here to get away from LA.

  18. I also like the design, but believe the structure should be taller. There should be higher height allowances along major transportation corridors, such as Van Ness, Market, Geary, etc. There is a huge housing need in San Francisco, and we will not meet the needs building a ton of small buildings.
    Second, I know that we are seeing a bunch of new condos being built over the next few years. What about new apartment buildings? (esp. considering many people cannot afford a large down-payment on a $1 million 1 or 2 bedroom condo.)

  19. Yes there should be 40 story apartment buildings going up in this city, we have enough condo towers. But as we have learned from the Trinity complex, that’s not going to be happening until some of these supervisors get voted out, and I think they have it coming to them *I’m looking at YOU Maxwell!

  20. I have to disagree with Ian. I think the building looks more like a sexy New York highrise than a Foster City office building. I think it will blend in perfectly with Van Ness/Civic Center. I would live there and be proud.

  21. I am suprised so many feel the answer to San Francisco’s presumed housing shortage is 40 story towers? There are many major cities in the world with more density and more housing that did not have to create a Chicago Skyline to achieve it. I would argue that a building at this height or slightly larger is much “greener” than a 50 story all glass “luxury” tower. The amount of energy to build and serivice a 50 story condo tower is far greater per unit that what a per unit usage in a building like this would use. I would rather see dozens of these type structures on various major boulevards like Geary and Van Ness. The great thing about this building is that it does now swallow the whole neighborhood, and will be a great addition.
    Not only do I appreciate this design, but I like the idea of street retail instead of a parking garage, and an entrance that actually can be identified. As was mentioned before, THANKS for letting the address be the identification of the building instead of naming it after a cocktail or perfume.

  22. There are definitely cities around the world that didn’t have to build 40 story towers to cure housing shortages but there isn’t much land left in San Francisco. We are more similar to Manhattan and Vancouver. I assume you are thinking of older cities like Paris, London, etc? These cities have a much different geography than SF and were developed obviously well before San Francisco and tall buildings were even ideas. Even cities like Paris and London are currently building very tall towers to add density where it makes sense. We don’t have to have 40 story buildings everywhere in the city but on Van Ness, Geary, etc it does make sense.

  23. Please show me cold hard facts proving your case that building smaller buildings (smaller than 40 stories) like this is ‘greener,’ as you claim. Meanwhile, according to the Otis Elevator Energy Use Calculator (www.otis.com), the average high rise resident uses only 5.8 kWh per month, based on 2 runs per day per person. In comparison, a modern day refrigerator uses 52 kWh a month. So I really don’t see why building shorter buildings is somehow ‘greener,’ but perhaps you will elaborate?

  24. I think I like it because it is designed for itself, not trying to be some bay window knock off covered in beige stucco. The details are very exquisite!

  25. “Please show me cold hard facts proving your case that building smaller buildings (smaller than 40 stories) like this is ‘greener,’ as you claim. ”
    If I can step in and try to help on this point.
    Elevators are not the major use of energy in a very tall high rise. It is the construction of the building itself that is, along with the added cost of getting things like WATER up to floor 58. A very tall high rise can require locating HVAC plants on multiple floors vs. a building like this that could use a very simple heat-pump system located in one place. There is a reason One Rincon only allows ventless dryers, and it is not because it is green (think about why for a moment). I am not familiar with the exact soils on Van Ness, but usually on any site there is a maximum height you can build before the building requires a much larger structural system. I am not talking about a 15 or even 30 story building, but instead a structure above about 50 floors. The construction cost on a building like this is far less than a One Rincon. Going up is not always “greener”, though in most cases it is.
    By the way, this is a fantastic design, and I also am glad there is no stucco edwardian details. This building is a nice alternative to all of the “look at me” designs some firms are dropping into neighborhoods.

  26. Some may argue that this small building is “greener” simply based on energy balance, however, there are many more things to consider. Take ORH for instance, 700 units in one location (two towers) vs. “14” 818 Van Ness sized buildings spread across the city for the same amount of units. I would rather have one ORH and a little room for parks etc., but that is just me.
    Efficient land use is also a “green” consideration that needs to be taken into account.

  27. ugh.
    seems there’s nothing special about this building design–bland and “place-less” like so many under construction here…for those of you that “like” this design—what, exactly, works for you?

  28. What do I like about this?
    Decent bulk, no stucco, doesn’t try to look like a Victorian or Edwardian, very nice street level (the most important thing to me). Boring? Maybe. So what? 90% of buildings are going to be boring. Why does everything have to yell a place? 90% of the old buildings in Buenos Aires could be mistaken for Paris – does that make both cities bland and “placeless”?

  29. I would also agree that this corridor is one that makes sense for 40 story towers. However, even those 10 story towers are a step in the right direction.

  30. How do we benefit by Van Ness being a corridor of 40 story towers? Do you think the “people on the hill” would allow Lombard Street to become a corridor of 40 story towers? Many of the most desirable neighborhoods are sought after because of their views. I would rather have mid-rise density on Geary and Van Ness, and let Rincon Hill have all the very tall towers, palm trees, and empty sidewalks. This building is a very appropriate scale for this location.

  31. People are not “entitled” to their views. This is a very short sighted argument. Sure, I love the views of the city as much as anybody else. However, they should not come at the cost of smart growth and density in strategic locations. I’ll trade views any day for a reduction in the proliferation of sprawl and environmental demise in the bay area. NIMBYs are a bad thing for SF.

  32. Building more high rises does not stop sprawl. This is a very suspicious solution to say the least. There have been numerous articles and studies in various planning and architecture journals showing that the causes of sprawl are many, but lack of One Rincons is not one of them. If you want to really stop sprawl, why not first FIX MUNI, and then create clean and safe streets. If the city were to start solving it’s own problems, it could create a more attractive alternative to a home out in the sprawl. BUT here is where your viewpoint really does not make since, what is point of building all of these high rise towers if the owners are all getting in their cars to drive 30 miles to their jobs down on the Peninsula or South Bay? Why can’t Soma and the Financial District have the super tall towers, and the neighborhoods have 10 to 15 story towers like this?

  33. Anon- Actually, your assessment isn’t entirely correct. Yes, most good jobs are on the peninsula and south bay. However, I for one take Caltrain to work. I know many people who specifically live near the 4th/King station for access to Caltrain, since it is less stressful/cheaper/easier than driving.
    As I mentioned earlier, building 10-15 story towers is a step in the right direction, but we need to really maximize the usage of our land. That comment about building more supertall towers not preventing sprawls is completely illogical. If you give people the option to live there (even if 1/2 use it as a 2nd home), that this allows more people to live in a smaller space, where they otherwise may have lived in a more suburban development. Just by giving more options to people, this slows sprawl. In addition, we are still in the early phases of modern high rise developments in the city. As these neighborhoods develop a critical mass, they become more appealing and the rate in which people move there increases dramatically. Look at Vancouver as an example.

  34. SFhighrise, I am also not against 40 or even 110 story buildings in San Francisco, I just feel there are appropriate places for that type of scale. I used the Marina as an example of where I would fight against it, but feel that Rincon Hill and parts of SOMA are appropriate. Most of these million dollar condos are in no way going to turn us into Vancouver, but rather I think instead we are going to attract more trustafarians and retirees. Have any of the new towers completed or going up in the last 6 years not been only built for the “luxury” market?

  35. anondesigner – I hope that you are using the second half of that nickname LOOSELY.
    It never ceases to amaze me how many 80s looking buildings that Forum Design can poop out. Becoming ALMOST as hideous as Heller Manus.
    Can we just agree on something right now? For everyone who likes this design and who also likes the Folsom project – YOU HAVE NO TASTE! PLEASE STOP TRYING TO EXPRESS DESIGN OPINIONS ON THIS SITE. STICK TO YOUR DAY JOB.

  36. RG, I never said this design was fantastic, I just thought it was more than acceptable. Now, I don’t know what you have built, and you do not know my work, but I CAN have an opinion. To date, I have designed and managed the most expensive residence to ever be built and sold on the coast of California (Newport Beach), and have done numerous residences in California, Hawaii and the north shore of Chicago. Some of these projects were modern, some were not, but you and I both know that an architect does not always get to do a ground breaking design on every project. I would rather see a building like this on Van Ness than many of the projects with faux edwardian details and poor stucco application that has gone up further down the street. And as a disclaimer, I admit that I have friends that worked on this design, so I have a bias. As a plus, they did not put 20 palm trees in front of this building which is a nice change.

  37. (Apparently my comment was too spot on for SocketSite’s liking) Let’s see, what’s “the argument”… Using the budget as a benchmark for a project’s worth has no merit in the TRUE design world? And the fact that it was in Newport Beach, nuff said.

  38. No, it’s your deriding people for expressing their opinions and passing judgment on a design you’ve never seen that aren’t particularly to our liking.
    And now back to 818 Van Ness…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *