25-35 Dolores (Image Siource: MapJack.com)
As plugged-in people know, the proposed and far from approved development of 25-35 Dolores would result in the demolition of the two 25-foot-tall “S&C Ford” commercial garages and the construction of a four-story, 40-foot-tall, residential building with 47 units and below-grade parking for 40 in their place.
25-35 Dolores Rendering
As we first noted in July when the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released, while characterized as potentially cost prohibitive by the developer, an “Alternative B” design for the project would preserve the existing facades in the name of preservation but only yield 18 units and parking spaces versus the 47 and 40 as proposed.
25-35 Dolores Alternative Design

Since the publication of the project’s DEIR, San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission has come to the conclusion that 25 and 35 Dolores are eligible for both the National and California Registers of historic resources. And California’s State Historic Preservation Officer has weighed in as well:

My office is concerned that the City of San Francisco may be setting a disturbing precedent with the demolition of the resources at 25-35 Dolores Street. Within the DEIR the buildings were determined eligible for the California Register by the Planning Department’s preservation specialist while the Frederick Knapp Architects Report concluded that the two Buildings retained their integrity as historic resources.

The City of San Francisco has a legal obligation to comply with [California Environmental Quality Act’s (CEQA’s)] procedural and substantive mandates, and moreover, as a lead agency, “to identify the significant effects on the environment of a project, to identify alternatives to the project, and to indicate the manner in which those significant effects can be mitigated or avoided.” The California Appellate courts have held that a demolition is an adverse impact that cannot be mitigated below a level of significance.

My office is concerned that the Planning Department’s use of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) documentation as a mitigation measure sets a dangerous precedent and is a misuse of the HABS standards. As the DEIR states, HABS documentation “would reduce the Impact CP-1 [demolition], but not to a less-than-significant level.” For the purposes of CEQA HABS documentation is clearly inadequate as mitigation for demolition of a historic resource.

Given the alternatives provided in the DEIR my office would prefer the adoption of Alternative B: Preservation Alternative, or another similar alternative. Although Alternative B, “could be financially prohibitive,” this alternative would not demolish the resources and would also restore them in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. With CEQA’s stated purpose to, “Prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes in projects through the use of alternative or mitigation measures when the governmental agency finds the changes to be feasible,” we encourage the Planning Department to adopt Alternative B or a similar preservation alternative for the 25-35 Dolores Street project.

The Planning Commission hearing to review the 25-35 Dolores street Environmental Impact Report is currently scheduled for April 7, 2011.
And in terms of precedence, keep in mind that a number of other proposed projects in San Francisco, including those for the Fairmont Hotel and North Beach Library, have proposed the use of HABS as a mitigation measure for the demolition of historic resources as well.
The Plans For 25-35 Dolores Street (S&C Ford Garage) As Proposed [SocketSite]
25-35 Dolores Street DEIR Comments and Responses [sfplanning.org]
Fairmont Hotel Plans Front And Center And Up For Approval Thursday [SocketSite]
North Beach Library/Joe DiMaggio Playground Master Plan Report [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by jimmythekid

    What a freakin joke.

  2. Posted by Joe

    Dont worry, there’s plenty of land in SF where nothing has existed previously..oh …wait.
    That is basically our bar for historic. Has a structure existed on the site previously? Yes? Then it is historic.

  3. Posted by gellan

    Of course it ran into resistance! Nothing happens in this TOWN without an annoying amount of public input and opposition. Just imagine the backlash if these same ‘2 commercial garages’ were being proposed instead of these residential units. What a joke!

  4. Posted by SFLooking

    I hate living in this “Dialing for Decisions” Town! I thought it was only at work I was subjected to that nauseating trait.
    That place will sit unused for years before the “preserve not so historical things” simpletons die.

  5. Posted by shza

    Thank god. I think it’s safe to say that San Francisco would lose 100% of its character and be totally unrecognizable without its world-famous S&C Ford Building/commercial garages.

  6. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I don’t get it. Are they saying that old garage is somehow historic? Are these people nuts??

  7. Posted by Ryan

    There is NOTHING historic about these buildings. I live a block away, and right now it’s where the homeless sleep and gather. There is no reason these can’t be torn down to make room for a positive housing development other than silly red tape. #Annoying

  8. Posted by midnite demo

    Count one more vote in the “annoying” column. I’m surprised we don’t have more midnight accidental demolitions.

  9. Posted by Sam Foster

    Count me among the “seriously!?!?!?!?!” crowd.
    Historic doesn’t mean old, it means that there was history there!

  10. Posted by BT

    How absurd.

  11. Posted by sunset guy

    Of course it is historic… I got my first 75 Ford Pinto in Lime Green at S&C and it was stored in that garage. I will pay for the plaque that should be erected.

  12. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    Sunset Guy wrote:
    > Of course it is historic… I got my first
    > 75 Ford Pinto in Lime Green at S&C and it
    > was stored in that garage. I will pay for
    > the plaque that should be erected.
    We should also get the cops back in to “historic” cars (like the detective Pinto in this photo):
    And make S&C open again to work on Pintos, Mavericks and Mustangs (only “historic” cars over 30 years old).

  13. Posted by lol

    A tacky old place for CARS being replaced by a tacky modern place for PEOPLE.
    We can’t have everything we want. It’s a decent trade off. Build it.

  14. Posted by lol

    With the right colors, it almost looks like a Taco Bell.
    Oh, but it’s some kind of spanish revival. Whereas Taco Bells are only “spanish revival” revival. Not due for classification as historical resource until 2015.

  15. Posted by Delancey

    There is a lesson to be learned from this.
    The existing commercial building was designed and ornamented to be friendly, approachable, and pleasing to the eye (within its limitations). The proposed development has all the charm of any other blocky glass bleakery.
    Propose something people would like to see as they pass by and you won’t set off the anti-development tripwire. Yes, that might mean curves, adoption of past forms that are proven to work, and no writeup in a mag. Deal with it. You are selling to humans who know what they like. The existing building catered to those humans.
    Disclaimer: I have no dog in this hunt, not my neighborhood, just sayin.

  16. Posted by JM

    The vacant S&C property probably is generating about $5000 a year in property taxes for the city. The new property would bring at least $250,000 a year in property taxes.
    Are these people really that stupid?

  17. Posted by Jack C. Nimble

    I am a very serious preservationist, and I think calls to preserve this set of buildings are ridiculous. The city needs housing units, period.

  18. Posted by marvinsnephew

    It is clear that none of you are actually in the trenches either working for the developers or for the preservationists to understand how the CEQA rules are applied. It truly doesn’t matter if it is actually HISTORIC, ie, that it was designed by a master architect, or it is a particularly fine example of a particular style of architecture or that some important event or person is associated with the place. It only matters that it is possible that there is the potential that this building(s) is a potential contributor to a potential historic district. Given that within a few years, the entire city of San Francisco will be considered a potential historic district, then virtually every building, more than 45 years old – that now includes many fine examples of mid-century trash in the potential Twin Peaks Rush-to-Development Historic District – will be a potential contributor to some potential district.
    And you all must remember that San Francisco is not for its citizens. According to the HPC, SF is really just so tourists can see all of our history including some fine examples of cheap, two story, run-down houses in the alleys of the West SOMA Light Industrial and Residential Historic District or the rusting hulks of old industrial warehouses in the (potential) Northeast Mission/Showplace Square Heavy Timber-frame Industrial Building Discontinuous Historic District (not kidding!)
    The hits just keep on coming!
    [Editor’s Note: South of Market Resource Survey Says…Five New Historic Districts.]

  19. Posted by Tweety

    Thankfully, the next earthquake will open up a lot of land in SF for new development.

  20. Posted by Vote!!

    Hate to get political…but whichever district you live in…make sure next time around you get active and vote for some moderate people that will at least hold two differing viewpoints in their head at one time, and who do not believe they have divine knowledge on how to solve all the world’s problems.

  21. Posted by stucco-sux

    It would make a cool Trader Joe’s exactly as it is. How rich would that be? Safeway, TJ’s and WHOFO all within a few yards of each other.

  22. Posted by ex SF-er

    3 words.
    Some SF homeowners might rejoice in this sort of policy since it artificially restricts the building of new units. One reason why SF is nowhere near the density that it could (should?) be.
    Propose something people would like to see as they pass by and you won’t set off the anti-development tripwire
    I’m not sure that’s true.
    My reading of this (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the facade must stay as it is, and the development can only add to the back or whatever.
    I’m sure most of us would rather NOT see the S&C Ford building as we pass by… but that is what is mandated.
    thus, doesn’t matter what you propose or how aesthetically pleasing it may be. it will be denied if it is not exactly what is there now (although refurbished).

  23. Posted by noearch

    Couple of thoughts:
    1. I agree that the Planning Dept. and the Historic Preservation Commission is obsessed about the creation of “potential” historic districts. It is a fear tactic they use to prevent any new “modern” architecture from happening. They are out of control.
    2. Architects and “architecture” has no obligation to design buildings “that people would like to see as they pass by.” That’s an absurd request, and no new architecture will ever please everyone. But new architecture should work to enrich a neighborhood. That is a very difficult thing to define. It takes talent, a great client and a good budget. But it does not mean the architecture has to mimic the past or please the most people. The intelligent, educated citizens of such cities as Amsterdam and Copenhagen welcome new, innovative modern design, even within the historic fabric of their cities.
    San Franciscans would do well to open their minds to new architecture and stop worshiping Victorians, and learn to embrace the present.

  24. Posted by crazyme

    I know nothing about this project, nor am I an architect or any sort of expert or “activist”. But I do have to say that I would find it just a little sad if all of SF was eventually replaced with these same “modern” rectangular cookie-cutter blocks of buildings that all look boringly the same. (In other words, if all of SF would eventually look exactly like Mission Bay). That would be disappointing to me.
    Seems like there could be some middle ground somehow that would encourage at least some preservation of facades. When I visited D.C. I really liked how they managed to preserve so many of the original facades with modern buildings behind. It made for a pleasant enviroment. At least every building was not exactly the same, outwardly anyway, and at least there was the illusion of some “character” and “individualness” to the buildings.

  25. Posted by david m

    if planning and the supes bow to this, it’ll be an act of stupidity so grandiosely absurd that it’ll likely make the news. there really is no other explanation for this sort of posture viz. a project like this other than a resistance to densification. that’s it, preservation in this case is a stalking-horse for nimby anti-densification.
    we desperately need some sort of renter pro-development coalition, that pushes unambiguously for lower development fees, far fewer hurdles to development, fast track options for penalty payments, a truncated review process that limits some types of neighbor ability to interfere (for instance, request for discretionary review). plus unit sizes, neighborhood zoning changes, rental development incentives, and more.
    mr. development interest: if you want to fund this, i’m your man.

  26. Posted by noearch

    @crazyme: Thanks for posting your comments, because you voice that exact fear tactic I am talking about.
    You fear that ALL of SF would be replaced by modern buildings. Where did anyone say or suggest that ALL of SF be replaced. I have always advocated a balance between preserving significant older buildings and allowing for new modern architecture.
    Currently there is little balance. The HPC and Planning Dept. have far too much power in preserving almost everything. The Pagoda Theater in North Beach has been vacant and boarded up for over 15 years because “preservationists” want it to be preserved as is. So it remains an eyesore to the community.
    Explain how a “pleasant environment” is achieved by installing modern buildings behind older facades.
    Your comment about the “illusion” of character and individualness said it all. It becomes exactly that: an ILLUSION.
    We already have Disneyland for that experience.
    I appreciate your honesty and comments, because I suspect your thoughts echo a lot of San Franciscans, where the “illusion” of good, and appropriate architecture is all you want.

  27. Posted by crazyme

    I fear that ALL of SF would be replaced because without restrictions of any kind upon developers, that’s most likely exactly how it would eventually end up. That’s just my opinion based on observations over the years.
    I don’t know how much “balance” there currently is, as I’m just an ordinary peon not involved in the process. I agree that there should be some “balance”. I was providing my comments as “balance” to the extreme other side, “tear down everything, build more bland modern buildings, cause we need more units at all costs” posts that were dominating this thread.
    So I think we are in agreement that there should be some “balance”. We’ll just have to find where that is.
    I don’t know that I can possibly explain in words what a pleasant environment is — I know it when I see and feel it. All I can say is, it is much more pleasant, interesting, enjoyable (use whatever words you like) to walk through the restored facades of D.C. or the preserved areas of Boston’s Back Bay than it is to walk through the bland numbness of Mission Bay lookalike glass buildings. I know which environment I would rather spend my time in.
    Buildings do have to have some look no matter what. I would like to see, at least sometimes, a little character. If that means preserving old facades, and if you consider that the same as Disneyland, so be it. All I know is that is seems to have been very successfully done in other places, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.
    I suspect part of the reason for this is that things move much faster these days. In the olden days, development occurred much more slowly and you got a mix of various things over time. Now, developers can throw up a cookie-cutter modern building in no time, at the lowest possible cost. This amazing technical proficiency that we’ve reached results in a certain blandness. You see this in cars, too, it is not limited to buildings.
    Yes, it is all a matter of “balance”. Lets hope we can find some and not go too far either way.

  28. Posted by crazyme

    One other thing to add, regarding your backhanded “compliment” about the fact that the “illusion” of good, and appropriate architecture is all I want:
    Take a look at the three images shown above. Imagine if the majority of the neighborhood all looked like the middle rendering proposed by the developer, as opposed to the current neighborhood or the bottom rendering, and imagine that same sameness gradually spreading throughout and becoming the majority of all neighborhoods. Is it your contention that would be, to use your terms, “good and appropriate architecture”? Just wondering.

  29. Posted by noearch

    Ok, well again, you seem to use fear as your overriding definition of the future in SF.
    There are already extensive restrictions on developers for new projects. They are called the Building and Planning Codes. You can check on sf.gov to see how really extensive they are.
    Again, yes I would use the term Disneyland when describing putting new buildings behind old facades. Even Washington and New York do it, and for the most part (not always) its looks cheesy and fake.
    Architectural “character” can also occur and be deeply embedded in modern buildings as well. Not all modern architecture is bland. But, perhaps to the average citizen, older, traditional architecture is just “easier” to understand and accept: Because it’s what they are USED to. Many humans resist change of any kind.
    San Francisco, while progressive and very open in some ways, relating to social issues and lifestyle, remains very closed to accepting new, contemporary, modern architecture in its’ neighborhoods.
    To me that’s unfortunate.

  30. Posted by tc_sf

    Not knowing much about architecture, my first thought was that it seemed shocking to me that merely keeping the old facade takes out 29 units and 22 parking spaces.
    How does keeping the old facade lose you 60% of the units?

  31. Posted by hiitsme

    I agree with crazy, Just yesterday I saw the old Hoffman Grill facade which was incorporated into one of the “newer” Market Street highrises as a Boudins, just east of New Montgomery. It did bring a bit of pleasure and it was nice that it was saved/

  32. Posted by noearch

    @tc: you need to read in more detail the Draft EIR:
    There are two alternative Schemes, B and C. Scheme B preserves the entire existing buildings resulting in far fewer units than a complete new building.
    Scheme C preserves the first 20′ of the existing buildings and facades, again resulting in fewer units.
    In a nutshell, that’s the difference.

  33. Posted by crazyme

    “Ok, well again, you seem to use fear as your overriding definition of the future in SF.”
    You, once again, twist the meaning of the word “fear”. That is just an expression to express dislike. It is not an “overriding definition”, nor is it a “tactic”.
    I didn’t find most of what I saw in D.C. to be “cheesy” and “fake”, but then I guess I’m not as sophisticated as you. It certainly looked less “cheesy” to me than the rendering above, which could be an office building in any office park anywhere.
    Are you saying that the proposal here has “architectural character deeply embedded”? Because, it must be too deeply embedded for an unsophisticated person such as myself to see. To me it just looks like another of the type of plain “boxes” that the posters on SocketSite usually complain about.
    “San Francisco, while progressive and very open in some ways, relating to social issues and lifestyle, remains very closed to accepting new, contemporary, modern architecture in its’ neighborhoods.”
    I don’t think they’re closed to accepting it, they just want to encourage “contemporary, modern architecture” to more than just endless copies of the same formulaic designs, such as the above. (Or maybe the above has the “architectural character deeply embedded” that I just can’t see).
    By the way, I’m with tc_sf. Seems like there is a middle ground here that would allow more units yet still not require it to look the way it does. Again, I’m not looking to ban this building, just looking for something better.

  34. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I’m a fan of industrial vernacular though won’t shed a tear if this gets torn down. (Though clearly marvinsnephew doesn’t understand the value of what remains in SOMA.)
    One aspect that I see often in modern mid to large projects is this Vegas style trick of trying to make a single building look like multiple buildings. On that middle rendering you see a gray “building” to the left and a wood paneled one to the right. Yeah, sure, who’s being fooled by this New York New York charade ?
    If it is one building then make it look like one building. Faux architectural diversity is attempted deception on a large scale that fails to fool even lay people. In the end it is just embarrassing.

  35. Posted by crazyme

    @The Milkshake of Despair:
    You must not be able to see the “Architectural character deeply embedded” in this building, either.
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist the snarky comment. Just couldn’t resist it. I’m sorry.)

  36. Posted by Spencer

    my problem with this is that the new proposal is only floors. If we are going to develop it, then we should make it efficient and magnificent.
    I don’t think any new multi-use developments such as this one should be less than 7 floors. For this one, I think it should be somewhere between 7-10 floors.

  37. Posted by noearch

    @MOD: I find nothing wrong or fake about using different materials on the facade of one building. It is not a Vegas trick, but a way to break down the architectural scale and massing of a larger building into smaller components. A longer facade such as this one that encompasses several lots widths is simply more interesting rather than one material or color.
    This approach is encouraged and supported as well in the Planning Code and residential design guidelines.
    It is unfortunate that many SF residents long for the “olden days” ( I love the image of horse drawn carriages and ladies in hoop skirts) and seem really afraid of the future. Cities must grow and change and adapt to survive.
    And that includes, I believe, new buildings and architecture to reflect their current time in history. Victorians and Edwardians, with their ornate style reflected the current thinking, well over 100 years ago.

  38. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    It is more than just different facade materials. Check out the roofline, decorative elements, window surroundings, and the way that the mass of the buildings are offset from one another. It looks to me as if the designer tried to make them look like different entities.
    Here there’s no reference to older styles, so it isn’t nearly as bad as the latest round of strip malls that have been popping up lately. But it will look like two different buildings to many people.

  39. Posted by sfrenegade

    “I don’t think any new multi-use developments such as this one should be less than 7 floors. For this one, I think it should be somewhere between 7-10 floors.”
    Most of the city should have taller buildings than it does, but propose anything more than 2-3 floors, and you start getting comparisons to Manhattan and Hong Kong from the NIMBYs. As ex-SFer said, there’s an artificial land shortage here. It would be quite easy to provide cheaper housing in SF.

  40. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Aside from the crazy NIMBYs, the new design is just the same crappy legoland box concept. How long has it been since a new project has looked legitimately different than this?

  41. Posted by Joe

    Look at the design for the ex gas station downwind from the Mint

  42. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Why would 7 stories provoke comparisons to Manhattan or Hong Kong? Those cities are characterized by huge skyscrapers. A more apt comparison might be Paris — 5-6 stories pretty much everywhere.

  43. Posted by noearch

    Simple reason Jimmy:
    Because most San Franciscans long for the olden days..Anything over 3 stories tall is the work of the devil.
    Just read back and you’ll see what I mean..:)

  44. Posted by crazyme

    @noearch is exaggerating, misinterpreting and/or dismissing the pushback against the parade of “crappy legoland boxes” as @lolcat_94123 so aptly described it.
    Nobody wants fake victorians, nor to go back to the horse and buggy (well, most don’t anyway), no one has asked for that. No one is afraid of the future.
    That, however, doesn’t mean they can’t expect more from the “future” than endless clones of Mission-Bay-like boxes (complete with cheesy fake multiple buildings and that non-descript office building look) being plunked down everywhere, willy-nilly.
    As long as I’m apparently speaking for everyone in SF who isn’t wildly loving this proposed building, I’ll say that we don’t mind Mission Bay, no problem having some areas like that, especially an area that was essentially a do-over.
    But lets not use “the future” as an excuse to mean everywhere must be exactly that, with no consideration that there might be some other possibilities. It is not black and white, between Victorians and Mission Bay, as if those are the only two alternatives that could ever be conceived of.
    Oh, and yes, this is just one building. But of course that’s what will be said about the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that…

  45. Posted by noearch

    Well, let’s be honest. You used the word “fear” in your very first sentence. That sets up an image: fear of the future, fear of any change, fear of losing the “olden days”, fear of sameness. fear of “endless clones of Mission Bay boxes”. Your words not mine.
    And yes, you do speak for many San Francisco residents who want our city to remain static in terms of architectural innovation and growth. The Planning Dept. and the HRC listen to you people, and that’s why our city is becoming a Disneyland of facades, fake historic architecture, very high housing costs, and lack of innovation.
    No one is saying this one project will set a precedent.
    Fear of what may happen, as the ultra-conservative Fox puppet Glenn Beck speaks so often of, is what keeps San Francisco a back woods city when it comes to great architecture and quality urban change.

  46. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    But what of the fake “two buildings”? I think that’s gonna look embarrassing in the future.
    I like Spencer and Jimmy’s idea of going higher but I’d add keep the parking entitlement the same. This location could accommodate density. Use contemporary architecture but don’t create fake diversity.

  47. Posted by sfrenegade

    Jimmy, see what noearch said. The NIMBYs here think it can’t be higher than 3, maybe 4, and in certain neighborhoods, even shorter (see the South Park thread). We’ve even seen documented cases where a neighbor protested even though his/her house was taller than the house under review.
    Meanwhile, there will rarely be true innovation in housing in this city because of design by committee. We go so far to prevent something that some powerful people don’t like that we don’t allow people to experiment with things people may like.

  48. Posted by Spencer

    “A more apt comparison might be Paris — 5-6 stories pretty much everywhere”
    Presidntial building in paris are generally 7-8 floors, not 5-6.
    The old building is hideous and th new proposal is hideous. How about something taller and more interesting?

  49. Posted by crazyme

    Okay, noearch, let’s indeed be honest. Go back and read my first post carefully. I never used the word “fear” anywhere in it. I used words like “sad” and “disappointed”.
    It was, in fact, you that first used the word “fear” in your reply, and I paraphrased that in my second post.
    It is you that seems to think that I “fear the future”, and that “fear of the future” must somehow be the only reason anyone would not love this building in this location.
    I guess you’ll continue to rationalize objections to this building based upon your belief that the only reason anyone could not like this building must be a blanket “fear of the future”. Go on feeling that if it makes you feel better. Were you, by any chance, involved in the design of this building, I wonder?
    You continue to misinterpret dislike of this building and the proliferation of it’s style (or lack thereof) to mean a desire to be “static”. Anyone who doesn’t agree with your exact architectural sensibilities must necessarily be backwards and afraid of the future in your mind, and wants to be “static”, I guess, because there could be no change other than change by your definitions.
    Then you bring Glen Beck into it, of all persons, and imply that apparently only you know what “great architecture and quality urban change” are, and anyone who dares to differ must just be one of the “back woods” people. Wow, quite an ego there.
    I guess I’m glad “us people” are listened to by the planning department (although I wonder how since I’ve never actually spoken to them or attended any meetings).

  50. Posted by Sillyme

    How does this miserable looking piece of crap deserve historical status? What made this garage so unique? When will city hall do something to relieve pressure on the housing market instead of allowing every shrill nimby to sound off like a poorly trained Mina bird? Silly me for thinking government can solve problems instead of create them. Will building 47 units there that will sell for a small fortune solve anything? The better question is taking 4-5 years to tear down a turd like this pathetic or what?

  51. Posted by marvinsnephew

    Perhaps everyone who hates this project could take their comments and send them to the Supervisors and Planning Commissioners. Nothing motivates a politician more than getting hundreds of letters about something. And don’t just send it to the local supe (Scott Wiener), send to all 11 and send often so they start getting the idea that the HPC and the “Future fearmongers” (with a nod to noearch) have a little too much power to guide the design of OUR city.

  52. Posted by lol

    Yup. In 2030 busybodies will be crawling all over themselves to protect the Taco Bells when they will have outlived their planned lifespan.
    Seriously, this city has too many people living in their own bubble and afraid of anything new. Because if an older building can go, it might mean that other things can go too, like the end of their own entitlements (rent control, prop 13, generous city pension, etc…). This kind of fight is a proxy for a turf war.
    If Nimbys had to go out and fend for themselves in the real world, they’d appreciate that change can be good. Change is part of life.

  53. Posted by Dan

    Crazyme’s fears of the whole city looking like Mission Bay are unwarranted. Mission Bay looks like Mission Bay because it was built from a large plot of empty land. The only equivalent areas remaining in the city are in the southeast corner– Hunter’s Point and Candlestick.
    The rest of the city only has small infill projects. It is extremely difficult to tear down existing residential housing. There is no danger of Dolores Street looking like Mission Bay. This auto garage served its purpose– it was meant to serve the Ford dealership across the street that is being replaced by Whole Foods. It’s time to replace the garages with residences.

  54. Posted by noearch

    Excellent points Dan. I agree completely.
    A lot of SF residents use the “fear factor” to oppose any new construction or contemporary design. It’s the easy way out for them to hang on to the “olden days” and resist change.
    Likewise, a component of the Planning Departments philosophy and the Historic Preservation Commission is this: If we allow one older structure to be torn down, the rest will fall. Sort of the domino fear effect. Or..if we allow one more “modern” building on Dolores St. eventually it will all look like Mission Bay.
    This philosophy is ill conceived, short sited and not founded on fact.
    Thanks for your additional comments.

  55. Posted by sfrenegade

    “If we allow one older structure to be torn down, the rest will fall. Sort of the domino fear effect. Or..if we allow one more “modern” building on Dolores St. eventually it will all look like Mission Bay.”
    Right, this is what the hysterical preservationists think, and it’s simple fearmongering. The developer here wants to tear down an ugly old garage and put up new housing, which will make this part of the city better for everybody. The hysterical preservationists don’t want a crappy decrepit building knocked down because they’re afraid Victorians will start being replaced by Dwell. Ain’t gonna happen! It’s not even a plausible opinion.

  56. Posted by crazyme

    The “fear factor” is completely manufactured by noearch. “Fear”, particularly “fear of modern architecture”, appears to be his code phrase for anyone who might have the audacity to hope for something better than, or different from, copies of Berry Street.
    And, why of course, this will be the only one. For sure, there will never, ever be another developer who wants to build another building like this. So there’s no need for any debate or discussion whatsoever, because, well, developers will always know what’s best. This building is completely a one-time thing. It’s done, will never happen again.

  57. Posted by noearch

    Crazyme, you need to relax. It’s ok.
    You spoke very clearly and echo the sentiments of many people in San Francisco who fear change, newness and modern architecture, and of course the fear of losing the “olden days”.
    If you read back there are other commentators who basically agree with me.
    AS for the architecture of the proposed new project, I support the work of the architects Levy Partners. They produce quality, competent, contemporary projects in SF, often with very strict budgets and time frames. Whether it looks like something already built at Mission Bay is pretty much irrelevant to me. Some will like their design vocabulary, some will not.
    I continue to support this new project and the demolition of the ordinary and not very interesting garage facades.

  58. Posted by crazyme

    noearch, I’m plenty relaxed, although it does get somewhat irritating to have someone continuously mischaracterize any criticism of this proposal as “resistance to change”.
    We’re just going around in circles without getting anywhere. Before I go, I’ll summarize what I take your position to be:
    (1) For this site, the only reasonable choice is this exact proposal or else a reversion to Victorians or Edwardians. There are no other alternatives worth exploring. (Who knew the field of architecture was so limiting?)
    (2) Anyone who doesn’t care for this building style in this location must by definition be “very closed to accepting new, contemporary, modern architecture”, because, according to (1), the only “modern” choice possible for this location is exactly what has been proposed, and therefore it follows that they must be opposed to all contemporary architecture of any kind.
    (3) Anyone who criticizes this proposal must be “resistant to change” and a “fear-monger” — there can be absolutely no other valid reason why anyone would dislike this proposal.
    (4) The building as proposed has “architectural character deeply embedded” and represents “great architecture and quality urban change”. Anyone who can’t see that is a Glen-Beck-listening, back-woods luddite who fears the future, wants everything to stay the same, and longs for the olden days.
    (5) Most of the people in San Francisco fall into the Glen-Beck-listening, back-woods luddite group, except for a few noble architects and developers who are struggling selflessly against the luddite’s allies in the planning department, straining to drag them all into the future for their own good (hey, this could make a good movie!).

  59. Posted by noearch

    1. This proposal is the one on the table. The developer, architect, and owner have been chosen. There are no others because the owner IS the owner. This is not an open competition or a free-for-all. If you understand architectural design process at all, the design team has gone thru many alternatives already to present this one. And I suspect this solution will continue to be refined and massaged as the process evolves. Another architect/developer/owner team might well have designed (fake) Victorian or Edwardian.
    solutions. (god forbid that should happen).
    2. Yes. See 1 above again for further clarification.
    3. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    4. Yes. See 3 above for more emphasis.
    5. Well, not most but Yes, a lot.

  60. Posted by sfrenegade

    I’m not going as far as noearch here, but do think replacing a crappy decrepit building with something else that is productive is a good idea. There are many possible designs that are acceptable to me, not just modern, and one person’s good design is another person’s bad design.
    The problem here, however, is that you absolutely can’t have good design when you don’t allow any design by calling this building and many others “historic” as if there’s something worth saving here.

  61. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    If I owned a building in SF that was a potential target for re-development, I would do everything I could to ensure that it was as decrepit as possible prior to sale — poke holes in the roof, leave all the windows and doors broken or open, etc. If there was a way to introduce termites or some kind of wood-eating bacteria into the structure I’d make sure I did that, too. 5-10 years is probably long enough to degrade the structure to the point where it would be condemned.
    [Editor’s Note: The “Resourceful” Demolition Of A Historic Resource? (1268 Lombard).]

  62. Posted by noearch

    @sfrenegade: Those are good comments but:
    1. Architects will never design a solution that pleases everyone, and perhaps never even a “majority”. Our job is not to please everyone. Our job (among many) is to satisfy the clients program, goals and budget, as well as the current planning and building codes.
    2. The Planning Department and their staff, along with the Planning Code and Residential Design Guidelines represent the public. Same with the Planning Commission who often must moderate and vote on solutions where there is much public dissent.
    3. The definition of “modern” or “contemporary” architecture can take many forms. And yes, there is good and bad being built, judged by the public as well as critics and other architects. Many people do not like modern simply because it is less “familiar” than traditional, ie: Victorian, or Edwardian. They see lots of traditional around them, they probably live in a “traditional” style of house and it feels safe and comfortable.
    4. With this project, we have in place a developer, owner and architect. That architect designs in a particular vocabulary that the owner validates. That’s the owner’s choice.

  63. Posted by encherito

    The City employees reviewing any new small construction projects like this fail to realize they are in need of increasing the SF tax base to pay for their positions. Shouldn’t they consider time a factor? How many developers have written off the City because it takes 5 years to get them to read their mail? Every bit of property tax helps reduce the defecit, and the construction jobs are usually done by young people that are contributing to maintaining the older entitled classes. Sitting on your rear end and allowing a sewing circle over saving a blighted property because it has a charming “Pre war taco bell” facade is just plain stupid.

  64. Posted by sfrenegade (not really a hysterical preservation committee member)

    As a member of the historical preservation committee of San Francisco, I can assure you that the garage doors of this so-called “pre-war taco bell” facade are generally considered a rather historic use of garage doors because they were the first garage doors of their type in this area and had a specific ornamentation that is rarely found elsewhere. Our committee is currently petitioning the Board of Supervisors to turn this area into a Former Car Dealership Historic District.

  65. Posted by joe

    ^ You joke, but if you read the comments from the real hysterical preservation board, they request that the project sponsor look into including the project in an auto related businesses historic district. Ridiculous and all thanks to Aaron Peskin

  66. Posted by sfrenegade

    We should just designate all of San Francisco as:
    Disneyland for Rich People and Decrepit Old Buildings for Drug Addicts and Homeless Historic District and be done with it. The latter is basically what the new South of Market districts will create — a new Tenderloin.

  67. Posted by Encherito

    Renegade: isn’t the former video rental store preservation society deserve perfered application status for their project so we can all go back to wandering and wondering what to rent tonight? Damn those net flick bastards!

  68. Posted by hybrid

    Most of this commentary is based on inaccurate assumptions that do not really reflect the realities of the planning approval process. Just because a building is found to National Register or California Register eligible does not mean it can’t be torn down. The bar is really pretty low for eligibility. Tearing down eligible buildings happens all the time. And the Historic Preservation Commission doesn’t “create” potential historic districts, they are found through third party research. There isn’t any extra regulation involved in being in a potential district, in fact there can be certain code advantages. There is no extra regulation unless a potential district becomes an ACTUAL local historic district, something that hasn’t happened in a decade. National and California Register districts and nominations get extra scrutiny, but not much in the way of real regulation. Also, there there is no prohibition against new modern buildings in historic districts, they just have to be good neighbors. People are getting worked up about a problem that doesn’t really exist. These garages are going to get torn down.

  69. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Planning commission votes to cut number of parking spots : http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=86658

  70. Posted by Peter

    Demolition has begun on the site.

  71. Posted by Salzigtal

    How was this missed during the “Automotive Support Structures Historic Survey” http://sfplanning.org/index.aspx?page=2383 ?

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