CFAH

CityPlace Rendering

The proposed development of CityPlace at 935-965 Market is back in front of San Francisco’s Planning Commission this afternoon for EIR certification with a preliminary Planning recommendation to certify (we’ve got our fingers crossed).

The proposed project would demolish the three two-to five-story buildings on the 1.06-acre project site and redevelop the site with one five-story, 90-foot-tall retail building, with associated building services and subsurface parking.

CityPlace Proposal

The building would contain approximately 375,700 gsf, with about 264,010 gsf of retail uses; about 4,830 gsf of common areas; about 10,900 gsf of mechanical and storage space; and about 95,960 gsf of parking, loading, and circulation space with approximately 188 parking spaces.

The most likely point of contention, said parking for which Conditional Use authorization is required and has already been reduced by 13 proposed spaces.

UPDATE: From a plugged-in tipster:

While CityPlace is indeed calendared for this afternoon, it’s going to be continued to a meeting in July. We’ll get the exact date shortly. Today’s meeting is apparently going to be short a couple Commissioners, and the Commission wants to hear this with as many members present as possible – so a Commissioner (not sure which one) asked that it be continued.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

UPDATE: The new date for the Planning Commission to review and vote on the certification of CityPlace’s EIR is July 8.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    The reduction in parking by ~6% is insignificant. This still seems like way too much parking to add to already congested streets. And that much parking seems unnecessary in such a transit rich location.

  2. Posted by sfdude

    given where it is, this shouldn’t have ANY parking – plus adding more parking at this location in the C-3 zone goes against the Downtown Plan, an element of the City’s General Plan maintained by the Planning Department.

  3. Posted by curmudgeon

    I agree with MoD about the parking, but I’m also inclined to say “just build it, already”! But it does floor me that the whole Bloomingdales complex could be built without ANY parking included, and yet this development somehow “needs” a measly few hundred spaces. I don’t think it will be armageddon if the spaces are built…they won’t serve the vast majority of shoppers there, anyway, if it is a successful development.
    On a side note, I parked at the fifth and mission garage last saturday. The top two floors were closed off. Which is typical…I think they only open the roof for really big events at Moscone or during peak shopping seasons.
    Do I sound tired of the parking wars?

  4. Posted by Spitpalm

    Yeah, yeah, “too much parking” but if parking kills this project say hello to another 20 years of blight and despair. I can live with some more traffic (which isn’t THAT bad as is) if it means progress along Market. What a pathetic example of civic pride it is. Approve this! Build it! Next project please!

  5. Posted by And the progs say....

    The D6 progs will never allow it…

  6. Posted by SFMichael

    Bloomingdales is across the street from a block long parking lot. That is why they didn’t need parking of their own.
    You can’t build a center or mall without a fairly close source of parking; customers simply won’t come. They won’t take the bus and then take it home with their purchase; they won’t take a taxi and do the same in any significant numbers. They simply won’t come at all and we’ll have replaced one set of vacant buildings for another.

  7. Posted by stucco-sux

    “transit rich”
    That’s rich.
    Let’s call it what it is: “transit foreclosed.”

  8. Posted by Invented

    “You can’t build a center or mall without a fairly close source of parking; customers simply won’t come. They won’t take the bus and then take it home with their purchase; they won’t take a taxi and do the same in any significant numbers.”
    Which is why retail should think about shuttle-home services (hello Gooogle?) Target, Bloomies, TJs, Costco, Whole Foods. Give us a viable alternative to car madness.

  9. Posted by gmlight

    “Bloomingdales is across the street from a block long parking lot. That is why they didn’t need parking of their own.”
    Is this proposed project not just one block away from Bloomingdale’s?

  10. Posted by curmudgeon

    SF Michael….this is less than ONE BLOCK from the 5th and Mission Garage. It is located between 5th and 6th. If you look at Union Square you will see that many folks walk much further from the Sutter/Stockton garage to where ever they are going.
    But, as I said earlier, I’m not going to get tied up in knots over this particular project.

  11. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: From a plugged-in tipster:

    While CityPlace is indeed calendared for this afternoon, it’s going to be continued to a meeting in July. We’ll get the exact date shortly. Today’s meeting is apparently going to be short a couple Commissioners, and the Commission wants to hear this with as many members present as possible – so a Commissioner (not sure which one) asked that it be continued.

    We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

  12. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    I’ve done some parking lot distance measurement with Google Earth. The shopping mall need a lot more walk that you might think.
    To CityPlace entrance (on Stevenson St?):
    From center of 5th St garage: 368m
    From furtherest corner of 5th St garage: 550m
    To Colma Target’s entrance:
    From center of main parking lot: 165m
    From furtherest corner of main lot: 316m
    From furtherest corner of the furthest lot: 636m
    To Ikea’s entrance:
    From center of main parking: 245m
    From furtherest corner of the lot: 457m
    So the 368m walk from 5th St Garage to CityPlace is inline with getting a bad spot on the mall’s parking. I’d call it CityPlace’s garage and be done with it.

  13. Posted by curmudgeon

    Great job wai yip tung. The only quibble…if I park at 5th and Mission I aim for the corner I want to go to and can usually get pretty close…so is the closest corner of 5th and Mission about 160 feet?

  14. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    P.S. My measurement is just a rough estimate with a large margin of error. But I hope you’ll get the picture. Suburban shopping malls often have a large footprint. When you overlay it on top of a city center, it is often equivalent to multiple city blocks.

  15. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    @curmudgeon, here you go. The closest corner from the 5th St Garage is 250m. Comparable to walking from the center of Ikea’s main lot to its entrance.

  16. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Thanks Wai Yip Tung, further evidence that onsite parking is not required for this project’s success. I suspect that the real reason that the developer wants so much parking included is that it is that parking in this part of town is a scarce commodity and will increase in value as the city continues to manage congestion.
    A parking entitlement isn’t the right to provide a pad of concrete where cars can be stored. Instead it is a right to load the street grid with extra traffic. That street grid has fixed capacity. When saturated, the wrong thing to do is to encourage more private car usage which increases congestion, degrading service to other street users including Muni.
    If I were developing this project then I too would be trying to get the largest parking entitlement possible. Why not ? It is free money and the only expenses are degraded street conditions which I do not have to pay for.

  17. Posted by SFMichael

    Wai Yip Tung, I like how you compare the mid-point of the lot and furtherest corner of the lot, rather than the closest point to make your point. Like these are what are used outside of xmas season.
    Hell, in Colma Target’s case the “farthest point” is parking for other stores. Most of the people who shop at these locations are in parking that is closer then the mid-point. The farthest reaches are generally vacant at the locations mentioned.
    And yes, this development can use some of the parking at the Forth Street Garage too. But it’s not like 188 spaces are going to be a game changer to the area. And hell, 30 or 40 of them will probably be dedicated to handicapped spaces.

  18. Posted by SFMichael

    And another point:
    The main arguement against the parking spaces is that you don’t want the trafic. Well, the only way that a mall/center can fail to generate trafic is if it fails to attract customers. In which case it closes.
    Even if all of it’s desired customers can find parking in the lot next door (which fills up during xmas season as is), those customers are extra trafic.
    So, unless your desire is to keep the closed storefronts as is, any development is going to increase trafic or it will fail.

  19. Posted by SomaSoldier

    I appreciate Mr. Tung’s idea of estimating the walk from the nearest garage; however, it should be noted that a comparison with suburban mall environments is not that of equals. In the suburbs there is much more and cheaper land available, usually a dearth of rapid transit alternatives, and the shopper demographics they serve differ. I wonder how many city dwellers, like myself, are well aware and willing to accept that using mass transit (which includes taxis and car-sharing, as well as ~20 transit lines in this case) is part of the price of living an urban lifestyle. The solution lies in greater planning for a shopping trip: use mass transit (or walk) for small loads, create a loading zone for large loads into cars and taxis (a la IKEA), and have large loads shipped to your home.
    An alternative would be for CityPlace to sponsor shuttle service to all nearby garages.

  20. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    @SFMichael, I realize nobody will use the furthest of furthest corner of the Colma mall unless they absolutely have to. I just include it for reference. Also it is a good indicator of the shopping mall’s footprint.
    Here are some more measurements
    Valley Fair Mall in San Jose:
    Except the front parking strucutre, from the center of each multi-storey parking to the central skylight is about 300-400m.
    From the furthest corner of parking structure to the furthest store in the main building is 650m. Unlike the Colma case, I think this is a plausible scenario consider people often visit multiple stores in the mall.
    Great Mall in Milpitas:
    Rather than measuring the distance to parking, I’d just point out the distance from one end of the mall to the other end is 690m. I guess I’ll just drive 🙂

  21. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Well, the only way that a mall/center can fail to generate trafic is if it fails to attract customers.”
    I was talking about private automobile traffic. There are other ways for customers to reach this site which do not increase street congestion nearly as much as private cars do.
    The conventional wisdom is that you need to accommodate private cars to encourage business. That may be true in less dense areas. But in a dense area like this street gridlock would discourage business.

  22. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    @SomaSoldier, I’m not advocating for driving. I just want to counter the developer’s argument that they absolutely need parking. Not only is the parking already there. It actually measure quite well compare to suburban malls with their vast parking lot on cheap land.
    This is of course on top of other transit options, which I expect most of their customers are going to use.

  23. Posted by SomaSoldier

    Mr. Tung, thank you for the clarification. I believe we are both actually of similar minds.

  24. Posted by SomaSoldier

    Perhaps the Planning Commission and the developers should consider how to make large loads convenient for shoppers. I am thinking of a store like Target, which sells home furnishings that are transportable by car but too large for hand carrying. Also, for times when a large load is likely, such as during the Christmas season or for wedding gifts, etc, a car is often the most practical way to cart it home. For anything else that can be carried by hand or personal shopping cart, parking is not required.
    I support CityPlace. I hope the issues can be resolved and the project built — the sooner, the better!!

  25. Posted by Amen Corner

    I worked at a startup in the late ’90’s that was going to move into the largest building to be demolished. Our deposit check for the lease bounced (!) and we eventually went bust the next year. I was kind of glad not to move there as it was a creepy building in a creepy location. I think that office space has been empty ever since even though the owners had put a ton a money into it doing earthquake retrofit work.

  26. Posted by anon

    How many ladies would love to walk 500 meters at night carrying a bunch of shopping bags past hordes of drugged-out mentally ill criminals?
    Yeah, that’s what I thought…
    There’s no logic in the anti-parking argument…like Yogi Berra’s quote that no one goes to that restauant anymore because it’s too crowded.

  27. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    @anon, there is an easy way to find out. Stay on a street corner tonight and count. Come back and tell us how many ladies have you counted will you 🙂

  28. Posted by MarinaRenter

    Honestly, build the darn thing. 180 spots are not going to kill anyone, or SOMA. These are underground spots, and quite handy for the elderly, handicapped, and shoppers making large purchases. Some of these posters act like everyone is fit and young. I have friends, whom have battled serious medical conditions (cancer, etc.), whom have had to purchase cars to help them get around town. They didn’t have the energy to WAIT outside in the rain for the MUNI bus, which was late, or just stand waiting for 15 min. They did still needed groceries, visit their MDs, etc. I used to live near this block right next to City Hall, and loved the area, but wished it would clean up a bit. This is prime real-estate (on market street). We need to redevelop this area now, and should have many years ago.
    I moved out of this neighborhood, because I got sick of the bums urinating and defecating on the sidewalks. Our government officials need to make this a priority instead of focusing on their pet projects. This is SF’s main boulevard for god’s sake and has some fantastic historical structures.

  29. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: The new date for the Planning Commission to review and vote on the certification of CityPlace’s EIR is July 8.

  30. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    anon@3:11 – People get mugged in suburban shopping malls too. The walk from Market to the 5th St. garage might be safer than walking across a desolate shopping mall parking lot because there are more people around to report a crime (or intervene). I really don’t know the answer and doubt that you do either.
    MarinaRenter – Who is suggesting that the disabled not be accommodated here ? I think we’re talking about the general able bodied public.
    This isn’t just “180 measly spots”. If it were only the addition of 180 parking spots for the whole neighborhood for all of eternity then I wouldn’t be complaining. But instead this would set a precedent of allowing nearly two new parking spots per linear foot of Market St. as well as surrounding streets. Future developments could point to this one and request similar entitlements. The result could be gridlock.
    This is not a deal breaker. Reduce parking to what is required for disabled customers and employees and then add some loading zone (both delivery and customer) space.

  31. Posted by curmudgeon

    I do think some sort of organized customer loading zone parking would be a fantastic compromise, and more importantly, would work very well for those people who make those occassional purchases that are awkward to carry (either on muni, or to their car parked at the 5th and Mission garage).

  32. Posted by MarinaRenter

    Milkshake,
    You do bring up a good point of setting a precedent. I would reduce 180 spots then to something more reasonable, but still accommodates disabled and people with bulky purchases.
    I do have a different philosophy on parking. The reason people drive in the Bay Area and SF, because many times there is not a “viable” alternative. Viable is not only getting you from point A to point B. It is also getting you from point A to point B in a timely fashion. Great example: I am watching the A’s vs. the Giants this evening and just checked the MUNI schedule to get to me to the park. It would take me 50 min to get to the park from my house. If I take a cab or drive, it would take me 15 min. This is a difference of 3x+, and that is if the bus is on time (a big “if”). I don’t see MUNI as a viable alternative in SF, until it is more in line with cabbing or driving time (ie 2x or less). Majority of my friends, whom work downtown, either cab it, ride their bikes, or walk, because MUNI is so unreliable and takes so much time. If we fix MUNI, BART, Caltrain, and increase transit options and availability, people will naturally give up their vehicles or drive less. Reducing parking options, in my opinion, just forces people to shop other places.

  33. Posted by anon

    188 parking spots will cause congestion? Did people quit math class after fifth grade?
    Assume that there is a full turnover each 60 minutes. That’s 188 cars times two for 60 minutes.
    That means a whopping 6.3 extra cars per minute in the area!!!! My god, how will the city survive such massive congestion! Traffic will come to a standstill!

  34. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Six extra cars a minute on an already congested boulevard like Market Street? How many cars per minute go down Market at this spot right now?
    I am sure this would cause more congestion and slow down Muni even more. The main reason Muni is slow is because of congestion caused by autos.

  35. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    You can’t build a center or mall without a fairly close source of parking; customers simply won’t come
    You mean like Union Square?

  36. Posted by Dan

    If the entrance to the alley for parking is via a right turn on Sixth St, and the exit is right-turn-only on Fifth St., and westbound traffic remains banned on Market St, the garage will cause little change in Market St traffic.

  37. Posted by R

    NVJ: Union Square is a garage.

  38. Posted by anon2

    ^^And don’t forget the huge Sutter/Stockton garage, as well as others. Union Square has a lot more parking available within a short distance of stores and restaurants than most other American downtown core districts.

  39. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    MarinaRenter – true, there’s no contest in speed. Part of this is because a bus makes many stops and a private auto makes just one stop. The other part is because buses must exit and re-enter the traffic lane for each stop, a maneuver which is highly affected by street congestion and caused mostly by private autos. So the solution of providing more private auto parking because transit is slow is somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy because it makes transit even slower.
    Transit agencies have a long uphill struggle to provide an attractive alternative to driving. Until transit becomes the first choice for more people we need to be really careful that we do not further handicap transit with congestion. I wish there was a better solution, but it seems like there will be some pain in the transition. It is clear is that the dense parts of the city cannot continue to grow based on a transport solution centered around the automobile. Well, unless we want to start double, triple decking our streets that is. Or someone invents an anti-gravity hovercraft like in Blade Runner.
    A counterintuitive concept to ponder : sometimes a slower transport mode is actually more time efficient. For example consider a journey that takes 40 minutes in a car and 60 minutes by train. If you can read or work on your laptop while riding the train than the time is not lost. So 40 minutes driving + 40 minutes of work is greater than 60 minutes of combined traveling and work. You can also catch up on sleep if the ride is long enough. And a similar argument can be made for cyclists who want some minimum amount of cardio work out daily. Commute and work out simultaneously.
    Of course the best of both worlds is transit that is faster than driving. This is true in many European and Asian cities. And we’re already there with CalTrain express and the transbay tube runs.
    anon@10:11 – again, we’re not talking about just 188 spaces. We’re talking 188 + N*188 where N is the number of equivalent sized redevelopment projects which will seek a similar parking entitlement.

  40. Posted by R

    Little bit of chicken and egg here..
    MOD says we should stop driving and take public transit, and then it will get better.
    MarinaRenter says until transit is better, nobody’s going to use it if they can drive.
    I kinda agree with MR.. People aren’t going to triple their travel time in the hopes of one day having a good experience.
    And MOD, your point is good on work/sleep.. if you’re on a nice commuter train. But have you tried to work or sleep on a Muni bus or BART recently? Good luck.

  41. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    R – When did I say that we should stop driving ? Driving does have a time and a place in our transport system. Just not all places and all times.

  42. Posted by R

    Do we need to argue over semantics? Was that not your point? That as less people drive and more take muni that muni will get better?

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