899 Valencia Site
It’s another underutilized infill site that’s been caught up in the Eastern Neighborhoods Area Plan development log jam which is finally starting to free.
On northeast corner of Valencia and 20th Streets an old one-story service station and surface area parking lot reside. As proposed, a 50,000-square foot, five-story mixed-use building with 18 dwelling units over 7,100 square feet of ground-floor retail space and a below-grade 18-car parking garage would rise.
899 Valencia Rendering as proposed
Tomorrow, San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission will review and forward their comments on the proposed project to the Planning Department for incorporation into the project’s final environmental evaluation document.
“The proposed project requires a public hearing because its proposed height would exceed by more than 10 feet the height of adjacent properties at 877 Valencia Street and 3578 20th Street, both of which were constructed prior to 1963.”
Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, It’s Not Just For Policy Wonks Anymore [SocketSite]
2652 Harrison: From Graffiti Canvas To Twenty Dwellings As Proposed [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Joe

    Useless committee and complete waste of tax payer dollars. So in addition to having everything over 40 feet be automatically vetted – anything over ten feet taller than its neighbor built before 63 has to be reviewed?
    what. a. joke.
    [Editor’s Note: “The proposed project is subject to the Eastern Neighborhoods Area Plan Interim Permit Review Procedures for Historic Resources in effect until such time as the Historic Preservation Commission adopts the forthcoming Historic Resources Survey.”]

  2. Posted by steve

    But that’s an historic service station!

  3. Posted by Joe

    Editor: point taken.
    Except that “survey will probably take a decade and will eventually just turn into another defactor barrier to developing anything in the eastern nAYborhoods.

  4. Posted by givemeabreak

    “historic service station” that is a Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) that is on-gong. Anyone know more planning/regulatory speicfic on gho9w that will be dealt with?

  5. Posted by enrico

    This is a fantastic news for the neighborhood. I live around the corner and have been waiting for years for this lot to be finally developed. More housing of this type and more retail is exactly what the area needs. The Valencia corridor is getting better and better every passing year.

  6. Posted by noearch

    To a large extent, I feel the Historic Preservation Commission slows and hinders responsible growth and change to our city. Cities must continually evolve.
    There is far to much “analysis” and “study” done to every single building over 50 year old. Many have no historic quality at all.
    This project is a good example of much needed infill housing and a much more humane and appropriate use for that corner.

  7. Posted by dkzody

    Don’t tear down any more gas stations. It’s hard enough in this city to get gasoline.

  8. Posted by R

    “It’s hard enough in this city to get gasoline. ”
    That’s because you’re not supposed to be driving, you supposed to riding your fixie.

  9. Posted by rr

    I suppose pumping large quantities of incendiary fuel around precludes the possibility, but has anyone ever seen residential-over-gas-station construction before?

  10. Posted by invented

    Re Gasoline stations.
    1. Valencia & Market today, Divisadero and Geary next. [and, never soon enough).
    2. We don’t need dedicated, land-intensive gas stations as we know them in the city. Self service Electric charging stations and gas pumps could be integrated into existing parking lots throughout the city – and even sidewalk bumpouts. Mixed-use parking lots. Mix it up San Fran. (and perhaps take a cue from Europe where it works)

  11. Posted by R

    “has anyone ever seen residential-over-gas-station construction before?”
    Not in the US, but common elsewhere.

  12. Posted by Willow

    Happy to see the development but if the renderings are anything to go by this is going to be another variation on the extremely bland buildings that have been constructed in San Francisco over the past 10 years.

  13. Posted by ph_goat

    Was thinking the same thing Willow. It seems like there is just one architect doing slight variations on theme.

  14. Posted by R

    No doubt. It’s bland.
    But you can thank your local nimbys and the planning department for it. There are developers that would love to do more creative work, but they don’t stand a chance, so they go the lowest common denominator.

  15. Posted by lyqwyd

    R is exactly right. With the process as long, cumbersome and expensive as it currently is, there is very little margin for a somebody who wants to take a risk and try and do something interesting architecturally. Nicer looking buildings cost more money to build.

  16. Posted by NoeNeighbor

    The gas station at this location has been closed for a long while so losing it doesn’t matter. Though the idea that somehow SF doesn’t need gas stations seems a bit bizarre. A pump takes up space whether it is in a parking lot or in gas station and, the last time I checked, there were a lot more gas vehicles than electric vehicles on the streets.
    I agree that this is another really bland building; It seems that the planning department and developers are in a rut; it is tough to blame NIMBY’s when developers don’t even try to do something interesting. Maybe it is that developers have low margins or maybe they are just maximizing profit.

  17. Posted by lyqwyd

    “Maybe it is that developers have low margins or maybe they are just maximizing profit.”
    I believe it is a bit of both. Most developers are certainly trying to maximize profit, but with the amount of expense developers have to deal with, and a system that seems to allow anybody to delay and add further costs, and a planning process that can force developers to change the design, who would be willing to take the risk of doing anything that would cost more than the minimum?

  18. Posted by noearch

    This isn’t bland at all. You may not like it as an armchair critic, but the facade appears to be highly articulated, with variation along each facade, and a sensitive setback at the top level. The corner is expressed in a more open, glassy way than the main blocks.
    It’s very easy to toss around the word “bland” or wanting a “nicer looking building”, without defining what you mean as not bland, or “more” nicer looking. This design is an appropriate expression of urban infill housing, and adhering to a reasonable budget.

  19. Posted by R

    Yeah, bland is probably the wrong word.
    More like same as a ton of other stuff. Nothing new here.

  20. Posted by mississippi sawyer

    The ground floor looks as inviting as a mule sucking on a lemon. The former gas station is now a parking lot, and from the looks of this, that’s what it’ll remain.
    Whatever happened to, you know, storefronts?

  21. Posted by JIm

    1) NYC is filled with parking garages on the ground floor, with gas pumps included, and residential above. Simple. SF requires a concrete slab between parking and residential above anyway. Easy to add gas pumps…if you don’t have to provide 1:1 parking.
    2) There are plenty of people around wanting to design and build creative designs (not all developers, but many, take enormous pride in their work.) The SF system however defeats most of them most of the time. A planning department of frustrated wanna-be architects; a bureauocracy that capitulates to a single whiner; and NIMBY design review “experts” who know nothing except that they fear change. Put it together, and its extremely difficult to get anything but the lowest common denominator built. As so many of you have said, for all the Process, Process, Process SF has, the results are not that impressive. Check out Chicago, Vancouver, Toronto, etc. that have a fraction the review and the results are…duh…much better. As Pogo said, we have met the enemy and it is us.

  22. Posted by Willow

    bland/bland/Adjective
    1. Lacking strong features or characteristics and therefore uninteresting.
    I dunno but that aptly describes how I feel when I see the proposed rendering. I guess I’m just expecting too much.

  23. Posted by noearch

    Well, I’ll say this: bland is in the eye of the beholder, and of course the armchair critic.
    Seems to me there’s an obsession with critique here wanting every single new building to be different from every other new building. Huh? And every new building must be exciting, new, fresh and “different”. Huh?
    If a Saitowitz building popped up on every corner now for the next year, would you be happy, or would his work suddenly become the “same” and “bland”?
    Our urban fabric is made up of an infinite number of styles and expressions, some background, some show-offs, some modest, perhaps some even bland.
    This new building has, IMO some strong characteristics and features and color and multiple materials and height variation, therefore it appears to be “interesting”.
    As to the storefront criticisms, at this point the rendering merely suggests all glass fronts, which make sense. Each individual retail outlet would add their own style and imagery to enliven the first floor street-scape with signage, color, lighting, etc.

  24. Posted by Here

    I like it. Good scale for the neighborhood. Lots of retail space on the sidewalk as opposed those endless walls in SOMA.

  25. Posted by Cara

    Oh dear! This building drawing is so ugly! Why more condos? So many sit empty as it is. The parking lot was at least useful to the neighborhood. And, if they MUST put condos there, how much of this will be dedicated to low-income housing? I’m sorry to see Valencia Street become such an upscale place for only rich people. Save rent control! No more housing unless it allows for ALL people to still live in San Francisco, not just the wealthy.

  26. Posted by e

    have any permaculture design aspects even been considered? vertical horticulture, water catchment, solar wind power, carshare, bike and parklet integration, communal/community space…..?!?

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