3355 Geary Rendering 2013

Plans to raze the Inner Richmond Mel’s Drive-In on Geary Boulevard were submitted to San Francisco’s Planning Department last year. And as rendered above, a four-story building designed by Ian Birchall and Associates with 23 residential units over ground floor retail along Geary and Beaumont and an underground garage for 25 cars was proposed to rise.

3355 Geary Rendering 2013 - Beaumont

While construction was “anticipated for summer of 2014,” to answer a reader’s question by way of our new Contact Form above, the project, which will require Conditional Use Authorization from the Planning Commission, has yet to be approved, much less permitted.

As always, we’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by gribble

    I wonder if this is the same developer as the BevMo a block away. Aside from slight window variation it is almost a carbon copy.

    • Posted by Jack Frost

      Just look at the new construction on Market at Sanchez and Noe. The look is all the same. A decade from now you will know exactly what was built during this stretch of time cuz its all the same look.

  2. Posted by jlasf

    @ gribble Aside from slight window variation, it’s a carbon copy of almost every new apartment development in San Francisco.

  3. Posted by Joel

    Possible reasons the project hasn’t progressed:

    Good: the sponsor and other Geary property owners are seeking a height limit increase.

    Bad: neighborhood NIMBYs have decided that Mel’s is a historic resource.

  4. Posted by gribble

    NIMBYS are probably thrilled that Mel’s is going away. That parking lot creates a lot of late night noise for the neighbors.

    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      That’s not how NIMBY logic works. Maybe a few of the immediate neighbors who are impacted by the noise will be glad to see it gone, but everybody else in a mile’s radius will argue that the proposed development is “too dense” and will cause congestion on Geary from Union Square to Ocean Beach.

  5. Posted by Serge

    Is it going to be in shades of grey like this or will it have mis-matched panels in 20 different colors like the rest of the recent developments?

  6. Posted by Sierrajeff

    It’s perfectly fine – let’s get it built.

  7. Posted by Stucco_Sux

    I would bet that many people who care about San Francisco more than than they care about making another buck building yet another ugly box… are not thrilled to see Mel’s go. Nimby is thrown around on this site almost as much as the Planning Department throws around buzz words.

    • Posted by sf

      If they are so concerned then they can buy the restaurant, and the land, staff it, run it, and keep it the way it is. Oh, that takes work. San Francisco NIMBYs don’t like work.

      • Posted by wonkster

        I don’t think “If you don’t like the plans buy it yourself” is really much of an argument when it comes to urban planning.

  8. Posted by S

    Though the food is terrible and overpriced, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a historic resource. American Graffiti anyone?

    • Posted by Spencer


    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      Except the diner where they shot the scenes for American Graffiti was at S Van Ness & Mission and has long since been demolished.

  9. Posted by Spencer

    I’m a big fan of that Mel’s 🙁

  10. Posted by Mark

    4 friggin’ stories on a major commercial thoroughfare that ought to have minimum of 6 plus mass transit.

    Time to move to LA…at least that city is finally waking up from its suburban/car oriented nightmare.

  11. Posted by Morgan

    “the Los Angeles urbanized area—which in both myth and fact is very car-oriented—is also very dense. In fact, Los Angeles has been the densest urbanized area in the United States since the 1980s, denser even than New York and San Francisco.”

    As Mark mentions, we may think we are special up here but L.A. may understand change better.

    • Posted by anon

      Cramming 15 immigrants into suburban housing isn’t “good” density, but I’ll agree that LA County has made positive strides than the counties of the Bay Area over the last twenty years (most of it has to do with the fact that the LA metro area is much less balkanized – one county for 10 million of the folks, and the other counties are far flung and don’t matter for transit in the core).

      And oh yeah, this development should be a minimum of 8 stories on a corridor such as Geary.

      • Posted by Morgan

        “cramming 15 immigrants into suburban housing isn’t “good” density”.

        Wow. That comment speaks a lot about the “new” San Francisco. I could see that comment being made about THE Mission over 25 years ago by some older trustafarian on Russian Hill. It also smacks of what I cannot stand about the “new” San Francisco which is how some of the newer arrivals look down on those less fortunate. Note the comments on the expensive housing thread where people ask if Oakland can be excluded. As mentioned above, “Los Angeles is much less balkanized”.

        I have seen so much change every time I go down to my old neighborhood in Santa Monica I am astonished. 25 years ago along Ocean Avenue most of the residential structures were about 4 stories tall, now the whole waterfront is lined with new high rises creating a very pleasant boulevard along the Palisades Bluff park. The same could be said for Wilshire all the way to downtown Los Angeles which now has a lot more trophy high rise structures than the entire combined skyline of San Francisco. I remember in my University days in the late 80s when Wilshire had short apartment buildings and vacant lots.

        • Posted by sf

          Your comment is putting me to sleep. And I need to sleep. So thank you.

        • Posted by anon

          All true, sure. But census numbers don’t lie, and the majority of LA’s density growth has come not from new DINK households in trophy highrises, but from overcrowded conditions in places like Koreatown, Anaheim, and Santa Ana. Santa Ana is particularly appalling, where there has been essentially no meaningful construction and household size have tripled in the last 25 years.

          • Posted by S

            That’s precisely my argument against the “build it taller” crowd here on SS. Hi-rises aren’t necessarily more dense than a solid 6 story block. Hi-rises (at least in SF) tend to cater to a high income crowd. A 1,000 condo in a high rise might have 2 or 3 people in it.. that same size flat in the mission may have 5.

          • Posted by anon

            In the US, highrises are denser than new 6 story construction, period. This is because we don’t allow 6 story construction like that seen in the Mission of old or in current day Europe, etc, but rather 6 stories with mega-wide streets and access areas, parking entrances, etc. If we could actually build a modern day six story version of say, North Beach, that would be great density and urbanity, but we’ve legislated that possibility out of existence.

    • Posted by Alai

      The factoid that “Los Angeles has been the densest urbanized area in the United States since the 1980s, denser even than New York and San Francisco” is a result of lying with statistics. It just reflects the fact that the metropolitan areas of NY and SF are drawn in a way that includes a bunch of really low-density areas. By that standard, LA is also denser than Tokyo!

      • Posted by Alai

        In fact, best just post the article you’re quoting from, which goes on to explain why it’s a silly statistic:

        • Posted by friscan

          This is a great article — clarifying that overall density spread over large areas isn’t the magic bullet. I’d suggest we like density when it comes in the form of livable, walkable communities that are compact and distinct, surrounded by open space/agriculture.

      • Posted by Jake

        Curiously, the population density of the Richmond District is slightly greater than the City of Los Angeles. Of course the City of San Francisco has more than twice the population density of the City of Los Angeles.

        • Posted by Alai

          Hmm… The Richmond District, according to, has a population density of 28,366 people per square mile to San Francisco’s overall density of 17,407. So it’s a lot greater than LA, not just slightly greater.

  12. Posted by Chuck

    Would be nice to have some other ground level commercial use than retail since this section of Geary (incidentally not part of the Richmond at all) has a surplus of retail space already. It needs to rebalance with more housing. Also, build higher!

  13. Posted by Joseph A

    I like the idea of building housing , BUT
    I do not like the idea of Mels losing this location , I wish there was a way to develop the location without losing the Drive In feel ,

    • Posted by Chuck

      How about bring the diner, or at least it’s facade out to the street and build over and around it? It’d look awesome.

  14. Posted by Jack Frost

    Just another faux luxury building going up in SF folks. Nothing to worry about. And by the looks of it, its just as bland and boring a design as the last several buildings.

    You would think with this type of construction boom in SF and with the size of this lot, theyd get a buildind design that looked different. But that would probably cost more and we know how that goes.

    PS- I say faux luxury because the only thing luxury about any of the new construction is the pricing per unit. The rest is run of the mill design and features.

  15. Posted by Tony

    Just what we need – the destruction of another locally-owned business to make way for Republican dorms – housing for tech bros and millionaires to rent as AirBNBs. The entire Tech Parasite Class will certainly love this!

    • Posted by spencer

      i highly doubt there are many repulicans among the 20s and 30s tech crowd. they’re not bankers. they are geeks

    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      Yes yes, the people who pay the bills are the parasites. Not the pathetic losers who can only gripe about other people’s money. What an original and insightful point you make.

    • Posted by sf

      A locally owned business.. From Southern California.

  16. Posted by Joseph A

    There is a larger conversation, and that has to do with what will the Inner Richmond section of Geary St look like in 5 Years , given that there are a great many single and or 2 story buildings between Mason and Presidio ,
    My wish is that if a building is replaced that the 1st floors be reserved for Retail , with parking below ground, and that the 1st Floor be at least 1.5 Times the height of the floors above so that the retail spaces have more curb presence ,,
    But this is also has little to with class warfare , and a lot more about seeing how housing can be added along Geary without the Blvd losing its retail businesses

  17. Posted by Scochise

    Tear down a so-so diner if you must, but must everything become condos?

    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      As opposed to what?
      Condos are homes. People live in them. You have a problem with that?

      • Posted by soccermom


        But wait, seriously, if a developer tears down a ‘chain restaurant’ like a Mel’s, shouldn’t he receive a marketable right that he can sell to someone else for a ‘chain’ franchise in the same geographic area? I think he should.

  18. Posted by homes!

    geary is the most underutilized potential housing corridor in the city. lots of one and two story retail with nothing above, tons of transit, and probably not as many nimbys as many other sf hoods. people may actually appreciate a bigger buffer between the geary traffic and their homes. most of the people complaining about the design really just don’t want new buildings, the design concerns are red herrings. should we cling to those beautiful bay windows that sf is known for and look so great on new construction? the only thing i don’t like about this project is that it is too short. it should have been approved as tall as the senior housing building on the south side of geary just east of arguello. this is from a – 20 year sf renter, and i’m not a techie nor a republican.

  19. Posted by 94118andpissed

    This is literally my quiet, neighborhood. I’m glad they’re installing a parking lot. Please don’t build higher because houses atop Lone Mountain have a view of the ocean. I had a view until they built the Aging Center. Please stay out of our neighborhood.

    • Posted by anon


    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      Seriously, you think the Planning Commission should make decisions based on the “concerns” you just described? Have you tried calling Copernicus to tell him he was wrong? That in fact YOU are the center of the Universe?

  20. Posted by Bri

    Mel’s is going away but the Unlucky Penny lives on. Fml.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      Yeah, got to admit Lucky Penny has seen better days. Ate there once in high school (in the late 1980s) when my mom mistakenly gave me an antihistimine (the drowsy kind) for my allergies. Couldn’t stay awake during class so went for massive amounts of coffee. It should be razed in favor something more useful or at least tastier.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      mels is actually a place i think could be sorth saving culturally

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