690 Stanyan Project: Perspective On The Site (www.SocketSite.com)
690 Stanyan Project: Rendering

Of course plugged-in people have known about The 690 Stanyan Project and its proposed 62 residential units and Whole Foods Market for at least five months, but the battle over its development appears to be picking up steam.

Our past overview, the project website, and the entire Environmental Impact Report (think floor plans, a plethora of fun facts, and more).

44 thoughts on “The 690 Stanyan Project Recap: Today And Tomorrow As Proposed”
  1. it’ll be a welcome, if not bland, change to the intersection.
    but if residents think that a whole foods will discourage the drug dealers and pan-handlers then they’re sorely mistaken IMO.
    that said, the Haight has changed over the last 10 (or 20?) years. I mean for god’s sake there’s a Ben and Jerry’s on Haight and Ashbury (little better than the previous Gap).
    so maybe with enough changes we can achieve Yuppie critical mass? A Ben and Jerry’s on Haight/Ashbury, A whole foods on Stanyan, a Trader Joe’s in between, a few starbucks and a williams sonoma?
    I doubt it. Haight Ashbury has been in Transition for 30 years. for better and worse.
    it will simply be the Whole Foods with the highest % of drug use and panhandling in the nation. but it’s better than the abandoned Cala.

  2. So what are the odds this actually gets built? It seems like the build nothing/blight preservation crowd wins every battle it picks.

  3. The corner portion is cool looking and there is something very Amsterdam about the way that is angles out toward the street as it gets taller, the rest is tacky stucco. Whole foods sure does choose ugly buildings.

  4. BTW whatever happened to Cala foods?? I remember trying to find one a while back and they were all closed, except for 1 on Cal n’ Hyde.

  5. I love that the renderings use the same windows for the park view as for the McDonald’s view.
    Check and mate, sensitivity to context. Better luck next time.

  6. zzzzzz I would like to know your opinion if this were built across the street from your house. Or are you for allowing any kind of development whatsoever on private property? Would love to know your thoughts and history on the matter.

  7. I think this scale/height/density of development is totally appropriate and I really would like to see this get built, but the rendering does not depict an attractive building to my eyes. I think it’s the continuous face of the 4-story building is monontonouse, similar to buildings near AT&T Park. It would be cool to exit the park at this point and see something out of the ordinary and have it be a n entry identity into the Haight.
    It’s almost like the developer knows he’s in for a battle and directed the architects to put in minimal time up front because they’re going to be spending a lot of time revising it later. Or they’re trying to keep the architecture so bland as not to be a target.

  8. I’m a Haight area resident. I’m also in the development industry. I ain’t no NIMBY. This design sucks. It’s offensively bland. This is a prime A-1 location and demands nothing but the best, not some suburban version of a mixed-use building. The developer (Brennan clan) is also an offensive band of bullies who have no interest in producing something that the neighborhood can be proud of. I sure hope the City drags this out until the Brennans sell or wise up. Yes, something of this scale and mix of uses should go here. Just not this crap of a project. I hope Whole Foods dumps the property owners, who are using Whole Foods’ good name to carry out a scorched earth campaign in the neighborhood. It’s nothing short of disgusting.

  9. It might be bland, but then so is much of SF architecture.
    It might be bland, but most of the Haight is composed on run down building that seem to be in various stages of entropic breakdown.
    It might be bland, but that lot has been the home of a vacant rotting building for years.
    So the options are;
    Drag out the process, like panhandleres suggests, until the developer gives up and be stuck with a vacant lot sure to attract the least desirable elements of living in the Haight costing the city large sums of money in lost tax revenue and city services.
    Drag out the process, like panhandleres suggests, and hope that someone new comes along and proposes a bold, exciting, radical design that is sure to raise cries of how “ugly” that proposal is and the cycle repeats still costing the city tax revenue and city services.
    Build the “bland” development and provide much needed housing, tax revenue, and grocery store to replace the lost CALA foods.
    Given the options I would go for build the thing. I agree it’s not the greatest building but it provides much needed housing stock and additional services to the neighborhood. And, considering the fact that the Haight is basically a tourist trap, nearly on par with fisherman’s wharf, anything that brings more actual residents to the area is an improvement.

  10. I agree it isn’t the most lovely building, but it isn’t hideous and is a lot better than the dirty parking lot, empty storefront and billboards they have there. I grew up in the Haight and it is even dirtier now than in the early 90’s. I am all for tradition but the folks here aren’t just teens trying to get stoned anymore. It’s a mess. Haight St needs help and bringing in a good grocery store and more living space would be a start. That said, I wouldn’t want to live at this busy corner. As much of an eyesore that McDonald’s is, I know it has been there for at least 30 years. I doubt it will leave any time soon.

  11. It’s kind of sad when you’re reduced to just grinning and bearing it because any development is better than what’s there. I don’t live in the Haight, or go there very much, for the reasons people mention… so I have to sympathize. The scale of the building is right, everything else is just wrong. If it was the first time I’d seen this, I’d agree it’s not hideous, but after a while these designs become a parody of themselves.
    Isn’t there a Cala on Geary @ 30th?

  12. I saw the earlier comps of the development, and although bland, it’s much improved, and they kept the corner of windows which isn’t terrible.
    I am hoping to move area soon (If all goes well with the lender, not a given in this environment), and a Whole Foods would be a great, welcome addition.
    And yes, I am buying in this downturn. A first time buyer no less. I’ve been trying to buy for four years and this is the first time I don’t feel like everything is just out of reach. Expensive still to be sure but managable.

  13. As a long term resident (since 1979) of the Haight I have very mixed feelings about the changes to the neighborhood. As an Architect I am part of the gentriifcation and grudingly supprot this insipid design. But, it is very strange, as the neighborhood improves, it also gets worse.
    What many do not understand is that, unique to Upper Haight gentrification, the head shops, mulitple tatoo and nail shops, and strange import stores that cater to throngs of tourists came with the gentrification. They weren’t there in the ’80’s (Maybe one between Masonic and Central). They replaced the normal shops you NEED in a functioning community. We used to buy our pots and pans on Haight…

  14. I personally would love to see a development like this replace the Bell Market on 24th Street. A Whole Foods would be a great upgrade for the neighborhood.
    I think there is too much parking, but that is just my thing.

  15. I would personally have loved to see something unique or quirky here… I mean it’s the gate to Haight!!!! instead we have a Mickey-D’s and a suburban lowrise.
    if you’ve ever been to Barcelona they have odd quirky buildings that would really fit the Haight. especially stuffy by Gaudi (although I know he’s dead).
    Something like this
    or this
    or especially this

  16. I hear ya ex SF-er but you are forgetting those were built in a world class city not a small minded and selfish town on the northern tip of a peninsula.

  17. The first project the Brennan’s developed on Haight Street is two blocks east, on the corner of Cole and Haight, with Goodwill as the prime ground floor tenant. The original plan was for a Thrifty Drug to be there, but there was strong neighborhood resistance based on an anti-chain store mentality, culminating in an arson fire destroying the project just about when framing was complete. The Brennan’s rebuilt using the original design but with the passion-neutral new tenant.
    Next they developed the building immediately adjacent and to the west of the “Goodwill” Building. This building looks a lot like the proposed design for the “Whole Foods” building, with a catalog’s worth of different materials thrown up in some design process equal parts Photoshop and good Irish whiskey.
    I can’t help but think that this goofy facade style is some sort of pay-back by the Brennan’s for the arson, and I can’t really blame them.

  18. Classic safe Colonial-Williamsburg-by-the-bay safety. OK it’s not CPS, but really — add 15 stories to this underbuilt proposal and I approve. Oh btw –one of the world’s greatest parks is across street. (small detail). Can we build housing which lets us see this asset? And, this is an ideal central location for car-free living. Any bold Planners out there? Yo!Anyone home? Does every construction here have to disappear into the organic landscape and un-become? We’re becoming a positively sleepy disappearing act; a relic, a romantic idea of a city. This significant corner is de-constructing w/this truncated building.

  19. A lot of the crowd here is right on this one :
    the design shown is really mediocre – at best.
    the site needs to and should get developed.
    the tide may shift on the haight over this project (I live there too)
    if Mirkarimi is pushed really hard to support the project and to require an exterior design upgrade — and thats the deal take it or leave it — I think this gets approved and out of the planning system within the year.
    someone needs to tell the developer. the project can happen, but the design is a fatal flaw.

  20. Louis, I agree with you completely.
    Another thing; “Whole Foods” which I would personally like is a deal breaker for some residents. I try to tell my friends who don’t like “Whole Foods” to not get hung up on the prime tenant because prime tenats often change during the process. Just let this project get started into the construction and we may find that for obscure to us corporate reasons they pull out. The developer would still have a prime retail space that another grocery retailer may junp on.

  21. It’s easy for me to be OK with the prime tenant being Whole Paycheck at this location, but I can certainly understand people’s opposition to it. It’s too bad a normal grocery store wouldn’t suffice for the development. While the Bell Market in Noe Valley is a bit of an aesthetic tragedy, I’d really hate to see that go Whole Paycheck (as I read has already been proposed), as well.
    They put far too much emphasis on their over-priced and underwhelming prepared foods and eye-dropper administered dietary supplements for my taste.

  22. Personally, I love the vacant lot look. Cracked asphalt covered with garbage and surrounded by chain link. So quintessentially San Francisco. We should have one in every neighborhoood. Oh… wait. Nevermind.

  23. Haha.
    Both the vacant lots and this kind of design are so SF IMO. That’s exactly what I was lamenting in my first post. Some choice.

  24. couple of comments:
    1. basically, I think the overall exterior design concept is fine. keep in mind this is a “conceptual rendering”..the final design will evolve after many refinements and details. It anchors the corner site and provides a signature-type tower corner as a gateway to the Haight.
    2. I agree with Noevalleyjim: the Bell market on 24th st in Noe is hideous..from the 50’s suburbs. I’d love to see that replaced with a development moved to the street edge, underground parking, a new Whole Foods market, and 3-4 levels of housing above. That’s what good urban design is about, I feel.

  25. “…provides a signature-type tower corner…”
    in the LA architecture critique circles, those corner peak ornaments are known as “asshats”

  26. Not too many complaints about the design. ONE very important issue: a lot of new condo buildings have frosted glass and are bland on the ground level.
    For the Haight, you want to keep the charm of the area with small friendly stores and fun stuff to watch when you stroll around. It’s a big piece of SF’s identity and frosted glass does not work.

  27. @fronzi:
    not sure what you mean exactly..the rendering is highly stylized..there may or may not be “obscure” glass..can’t really tell..the rendering does not have any reflections of sky or other buildings. this is very conceptual, that’s all.
    so called “frosted glass” is really just obscure glass or spandrel glass, designed to hide structural elements..or other components.
    can you expand more on your thoughts regarding “fun stuff to watch when you stroll around..”?

  28. Aren’t they already turning the Bell in Noe into a Whole Foods? Maybe they have something more planned than that!
    Condo’s on top of a Wholefoods in Noe Valley would sell faster than carbon credits for its peninsula commuters (now that’s fast!) 🙂

  29. “Yeah sure, venus fly trap meets adobe house.”
    mediated: you don’t necessarily have to love Gaudi’s design… my only point was that this is the HAIGHT ASHBURY district, theoretically the epicenter of worldwide counter-culturism. why not put up a building that speaks to that homage???
    The Gaudi architecture style is definitely “out there” without being dumpy IMO. and I don’t always like his stuff… I just really feel that his sort of architecture would really fit into the Haight…
    another possibility would have been to make interesting TILEWORK. Gaudi did a great job with that too…
    like this, although I like other pieces of his work more
    it’s just a shame that we’re wasting this prime lot with this design. Yes, it’s better than a vacant Cala foods store… but a gaudi-inspired building (or similar) would be ideally located here and could be the next SF landmark.

  30. Spain has tons of great contemporary architecture in addition to the historical Gaudis (which I adore). SF would never permit a fraction of the architectural inventiveness that goes on in Spain these days; there’s simply no comparison. The practical, but sad reality here remains: accept a somewhat disappointing, bland design here or resign ourselves to the site in its current state of decrepitude. I wish there were more choices.

  31. so if the site commands better, is any developer out there actually offering up a superior proposal? This isn’t amazing architecture, but it’s a big improvement over the current situation.

  32. Not a bad looking building in a bad area. Who doesn’t love living across the street from a McDonald’s frequented by druggies?

  33. Good architecture is incompatible with democracy. Given a choice, I’d pick good architecture any day.

  34. All those buildings you showed would be grand for the site xSFr, unfortunately none of them are proposed.

  35. I know NVJ. part of the reason IMO is because anything “different” is promptly shot down. not enough property rights in SF. it’s all “build by committee” and for some reason the committees seem to be overly populated by NIMBYers stuck in a time warp.

  36. can you expand more on your thoughts regarding “fun stuff to watch when you stroll around..”?
    I agree…Where are the drugged out bums with superating sores going to sit, hmmm?

  37. Statement from the developer:
    On July 17, 2008, at a meeting of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association, we informed those members in attendance that the chances of moving forward with the 690 Stanyan St. Project (proposed are 62 residential units above a full-service grocery store – Whole Foods Market, currently undergoing environmental review by the City and the public) were at best “50 – 50″ and that it is quite likely that this project is on its deathbed. The unreasonable delays in environmental review by the City are causing both the project sponsor and the proposed tenant, Whole Foods Market, to think seriously about whether it is all worth it. We would like to elaborate on our earlier remarks.
    A weak economy is coming around to affect San Francisco and there have been huge increases in construction costs over the last 12 months. National grocery chains, like almost all public companies, are re-evaluating the risks of expanding into new markets. The Project’s planning application has been under environmental review by the City for nearly 2 ½ years now, without any sort of schedule for an approval hearing with the Planning Commission and certainly no end to the City planning process in sight.
    We have spent nearly $1 Million to date on planning for the project, largely on City fees and consultants chosen by the City to analyze the environmental effects of the project: we have to little to show for it except a stack of heavy draft documents. Thanks mostly to a vocal minority of opponents of the project, we have encountered long delays in publication of a Final EIR and the City has called for new environmental studies to be undertaken involving new data collection, analysis and writing-up (the new studies confirm the conclusions of the original draft EIR). For example, an 18-page letter from the Sierra Club has cost weeks of schedule and thousands of dollars in re-analysis by the City’s highly-paid consultants. This and delays sought by HANC have pushed back any hope of obtaining an approval hearing before the Fall of this year, perhaps even conveniently beyond the November elections. Given this, the earliest that the supermarket could now open for business would be 2011 or 2012. This leads to a likely conclusion that, unless there is a hearing before the Planning Commission soon, there will be no market tenant, no housing and no development of that site in the foreseeable future. The parking lot, of course, would stay open for business.
    All the while, our District 5 Supervisor, Ross Mirkarimi, has expressed little or no interest in pushing this project forward. He denies being in opposition to the project although the warmth of his feelings depend greatly on the audience for his remarks. Instead he queries other grocery vendors regarding their interest in occupying the old Cala Foods building; while his allies more actively work in opposition to the project. If the Supervisor is opposed to the project, that is his prerogative, but he should clearly articulate his reasons why, particularly in an election season, in order to convince his constituents that his position is the right one. If he is supportive of having a full-service grocery store for the area then he needs to take a leadership role in carrying the project forward, lobbying city staff and prominent people, pushing them along a little in order to get the project ready for its approval hearing as quickly as possible: this is the essence of the role of a District Supervisor. The Supervisor’s inaction and lack of leadership on this issue serves the same result as actively opposing it. Unfortunately it appears that he has cast his lot with HANC and the handful of opponents to the project but does not have the integrity to admit this to his constituents.
    We ask only that you make your feelings known to our District Supervisor and ask that he provide leadership for our community, that trying to hide in the shadows is not an acceptable way for him to represent our opinions.
    Thank you.
    Mark J. Brennan for 690 Stanyan St. LLC

  38. While I am no fan of WFM– They are over priced for their quality level– Having the sight developed would be good. However, this design is darn ugly and does not fit the neighborhood at all. As much as the Brennan’s choice of anchor tenant may produce opposition to their projects, there is no doubt that bad design is a big problem too. The problem they seem to be having again and again is that their vision for the neighborhood differs in many way from the vision of the residents.
    Now, I understand the Brennan’s point of view on anchor tenants– when you want the rent reliably paid, are you going to go with a profitable national chain or a local merchant with one or two stores tied to the economic fate of the city? I don’t know the Brennan’s financial position, but they may need a certain type of anchor tenant to secure construction loans.
    I can live WFM, but the design of the building still needs a lot of work. My other concern is that the design does not envision bringing any of the greenery of the park up the street. I don’t know what happens in the back of the building, but if it is a great big rectangle it may be overbuilt for the lot.
    Ultimately putting a building here will not solve the problems of the entrance to Golden Gate Park and the troubles that plague Haight Street generally from there to Buena Vista Park. This is really a question about what you want to do about Hippie Hill, about the various businesses on Haight that attract trouble– and neighborhood residents know which bars have lines outside when they open. Can we offer services like soup kitchens and free clinics without having the neighborhood under siege? (There were some beautiful unit next to the library on Page, but would you want to live next to a public library where gutter punks stop to check their e-mail?)

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