1527 Pine Street Rendering 2014

Across Van Ness Avenue from two 13-story towers slated to rise, Trumark Companies is planning to raze five little buildings between 1527 and 1545 Pine Street and construct a 12-story building designed by Arquitectonica in their place.

The proposed Polk Gulch development would yield up to 107 residential units with 2,844 square feet of ground-floor retail and art gallery space along Pine and Austin streets.  Parking for 82 cars and 106 bikes would be in a two-level basement below.

A public hearing to review the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the development will be held on June 19.  Expect a spirited discussion with respect to the treatment of 1545 Pine Street, the building below that’s “[associated] with the temporary commercial reconstruction in the aftermath of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire” and which would be demolished to make way for the project as proposed.

1545 Pine Street

With respect to the Environmental Review, keep in mind that State Senate Bill 743 became effective on January 1, 2014, eliminating the analysis of aesthetics and parking impacts for certain urban infill projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  As such, the EIR for the 1527-1545 Pine Street development “does not contain a separate discussion of the topic of Aesthetics [or parking], which can no longer be considered in determining the Summary significance of the proposed project’s physical environmental effects under CEQA.”

Aesthetics (and parking) remain fair game, however, when it comes time for our Planning Commission’s approval.

36 thoughts on “Polk Gulch Development Rendered, Ready For Environmental Review”
  1. I like it.. if approved as is, this will be a great “trend setter” building. No longer can people scream “context!” when tall structures are proposed, since the context will *be* taller buildings like this.
    Although, this didn’t matter in the case of 555 Washington, a building ½ the height of the tower next door…

  2. Not sure why, but the rendering of this building made me wonder if we will ever return to a period when new towers do not have to be all glass? Sometimes modern is done very well (ex. Crown Zellerbach building) but mostly it is so pedestrian. Must every new tower be a glass box with flat roof topped with exposed mechanical equipment?

    I recently was admiring the towers on Broadway between Franklin and Scott Street and wondered why past generations were given such wonderful buildings to live in. Balconies, landscaping, appropriate ornamental details, a wonderful mixture of colors and materials…..oh well, maybe I was born at the wrong time.

    1. Don’t bet your life on it. However, I will say that it looks /slightly/ better than the Holiday Inn across the street. People need to remember that when that Holiday Inn was built, it was likely heralded as a new and better design (because, by golly, we can’t have those pesky 19th century eyesores). Now it’s just one building in a slew of others that is a wart on the landscape.

  3. I take that back, this looks much better than the Holiday Inn. It looks better than most of the boxes built today.

  4. Looking better than a very ugly Holiday Inn should not be the standard for what passes as good architecture in San Francisco. (though you are right, it is at least better)

  5. What is there to prevent another developer from building on the adjacent corner and eliminating the eastern light exposure to this structure?

      1. Yep. BRT is a joke and waste of money. City needs some balls to save up and push through a really subway for Geary and Van Ness. These piddly bus and bike projects could be put to better use. Want to eliminate need for so much car use? Build a usable subway. Many of us would be happy to take a subway but not bus.

  6. Another Arquitectonica rendering that looks great, but will probably be watered down by the time it’s done.

    Look at the Trinity project. It looked stunning in the drawings. Now, it looks bland and cheap. The same for the Linea. So, yes, the rendering looks nice. But I will not expect much.

    1. Agree – Linea is a real disappointment. But those who’ve been on here a while know that I have a beef with renderings in general, which always depict a nice watercolor building (often with softly frosted glass and over-large vegetation) and not the reality of how the building’s going to look.

  7. And don’t forget, estimated travel times on the BRT are hoped to be 2 minutes faster than bus service now IF they had not designed a 50% reduction in bus stops. Basically BRT from Civic Center to north Van Ness “may be up to 4 minutes faster” (SFGate) than existing travel times. “By 2015, bus speeds would increase on average from the current 5 miles per hour to 7 mph, but only 6 mph for side-running.” (SFMTA) Add in the fact that traffic and parking lanes are being removed from Van Ness AND Polk Street and you have the perfect storm car haters would love to create. All left turn lanes are going to be removed from Van Ness so cars will have to clog neighborhood side streets to circle around to the direction they need to go. The more traffic the MTA can invent the more restrictions they can demand.

    There should have been underground rail under Van Ness and Geary, PERIOD!

    1. Cars only average 12.5 MPH in The City, so this 40% improvement from 5 MPH to 7 MPH will help make bus competitive with automobile traffic, especially once you factor in the time spent parking.

      Underground would be great, but where are we going to get the money? Are taxpayers really going to vote for a $10B bond for this? I doubt it.

      1. “Cars only average 12.5 MPH in The City,” you must joking. 12.5mph in rush hour on van ness maybe. otherwise i personally drive much faster. from pac heights, i can get to ANYWhere in the city in under 20 min

        1. Including the Bayview or Lake Merced? If your city destinations don’t go further south than BH or west than the inner Sunset, then your PH starting point is indeed within 4 miles/20 minutes from where you need to go at 12.5MPH.

          For some trips, cars can go much faster than 12.5MPH. For others it’s slower, and much much slower when you include street parking.

          1. i take my dog to fort funston all the time. never more than 20.

            I also worked in South San Francisco for many years. never more than 25 min. I can get to candlestick in less than 20.

            I can get anywehre in the “real SF” in under 12 min

          2. Good for you. Google Maps directions today have that trip at 29 minutes. And they usually minimize stop at traffic lights.

        2. Same here. I go to Fort Mason a lot from Noe Valley, easily in just about 18 min. Knowing the quickest routes is key, but driving pretty much all over is not a problem.

          1. now lets’s take another trip: going to “Whole Foods” and getting stuck inline waiting for parking on 24th.

          2. It is 4.7 miles from Noe Valley to Fort Mason. Getting there in 18 minutes means you averaged 15.6 MPH. I can get there just as fast on my bicycle.

            And I want to see you try to do it during rush hour. It will take at least an extra 10 minutes.

          3. Hope I don’t get stuck behind Futurist in traffic, sounds like F drives too slow. Maybe enjoying the visual tapestry that is San Francisco a little too much.

            NVJ, the average speed for cars on Van Ness at rush hour is 17 mph according to the measurements reported in the congestion study I linked to. And both Gough and Franklin are faster.

            Even if F was clueless enough to take Mission St from Cesar Chavez to 14th it is faster than 14 mph during rush hour. These are all averages, so there are better and worse days.

            As long as you are not caught up in the maelstrom east of Van Ness, in the hwy and bridge on/off mess, or in the worst parts of SOMA, normal speeds for surface streets almost everywhere in SF during rush hour are more like 15 mph than 10 mph (4.7 miles/28 min).

          4. Nvj. You can average 16mph on your bike crossing the city will all of the stop signs? That’s BS. I’ve done a few trips and average slightly above that on a course with no stops

          5. I always walk to WF on 24th, or drive to the WF at Dolores/Market. I love their parking garage, always easy parking.

          6. NVJ. it much faster than that in my car. Howver, your claim that you can make it across at average of 16mph is false. As i stated above, i am an endurance athlete and generally average just 17mph on open course triathlons

          7. 19 minutes without traffic, according to Google. 23 minutes in traffic at 3:02 PM. How do you make it “much faster in your car”? Do you speed? Break the law in some other fashion?

            16 MPH would be a pretty fast pace I have to admit. I do have a few rides like that in my computer, but that is nothing like an average speed.

            At the destination I will find parking right next to the door instead of circling and waiting, which will help me catch up.

            The point is that even for trips pretty far across town the times are comparable. 12 MPH is pretty much normal for me as long as I am on a level surface that is what a car going right now would be doing.

          8. Biking’s great — I do it a lot. Run a lot, and walk a lot too. But arguing that biking is just as fast, or close, to driving is simply silly. An example, had to take my 8-yr-old daughter to the JCC last weekend from our place in the Castro. Quick trip up Divis, Fell and Masonic. Took maybe 7-8 minutes. Traffic flowed fine the whole way. Blew by plenty of bikes (glad to see them out and about!). Yeah, maybe I could have biked all out and made it in about 20 minutes – except I had an 8-yr-old girl with me. Oh, and then I drove home. And then another round trip to pick her up a couple hours later. So that’s about an hour saved over biking just on that single errand. Sure, for some very short trips – by yourself if you are fit – biking actually gets you there quicker. Pretty rare, though. When I bike places, it is because I enjoy it and it is healthy. I’m not deluding myself into thinking it is actually faster than a car! Dishonest statements aren’t going to make an argument more compelling.

            Improve the planning to encourage biking? Sure. But it will never provide more than a tiny % of transportation miles in SF as it is just not practical for most trips (yeah, I know, “but in Amsterdam etc. lots more people ride bikes!”). So better, faster mass public transportation has to be the key priority, by far. And keeping car traffic moving also has to be a main priority because that is how people get around and will continue to do so.

          9. I frequently carry my 8 year old on the back of my bicycle. I even have a cargo bike where I can carry both my 8 year old and my 5 year old (and 4 bags of groceries!). And I am no spring chicken: I will be 50 next year.

            Google Maps says that the trip from The Castro to JCC is 10 minutes by car or 20 by bicycle. So two round trips is 80 minutes vs 40 minutes or a difference of 40 minutes, not an hour, like you estimate. But you also have to add in parking. I very generously would estimate 2 minutes on each leg, for a difference of 32 minutes, or about half an hour. Well worth it to help the environment and get some exercise, in my book. You might feel differently about your obligation to future generations.

            My regular trip to work is 2.8 miles and takes me 15-20 minutes. If I had to do it by car, it would take at least as long, probably even longer, since the closest parking lot is 4 blocks away. According to the Bicycle Coalition, almost half of all trips in San Francisco are under 2 miles. These are almost always going to be faster by bicycle.

          10. You’re not biking from the Castro to the JCC with an 8-yr-old on the back in 20 minutes unless you’re Lance Armstrong on steroids and you blow through every stop sign and red light (not a move I’d recommend with a child, or ever). And then you have to go home and back (granted, alone on those trips) and then home with the 8-yr-old. And I know how long I drove – 7 or 8 minutes each way, including pulling in and out of my garage. No parking on this trip – just dropped my daughter off and picked her up. Saved an hour.

            Sure, I could have conceivably biked this – I bike a lot. But saving an hour on this one chore – multiplied by 10 over the course of a week with trips to sports (in Marin often) and music lessons and Costco, etc., and that is a lot of valuable free time gained from driving week after week. My time is really valuable to me. You’re not going to convince me that biking is faster than driving. I agree that on some very short trips, where you don;t need to carry much, biking works. In fact, those are the times when I bike or walk.

            You’re a super smart guy, NVJ, but you do have a bit of a blind spot when the topic of biking comes up.

          11. Yes many trips could be done by cycling instead of driving. Not ALL trips, but a large enough number of trips. Much larger than today. Right now the logic is to jump straight into our cars for whatever errands that cannot be done by foot, and maybe think to ourselves “could we do this by bicycle?”. 2 reasons for this I think:

            1 – we are Americans and cars are in our DNA,
            2 – The economic rationale. A car is an expense with fixed costs. Adding more miles doesn’t add much to the expense, and letting your car sit unused while you take your bike can seem like a waste of a valuable resource. A car depreciates quickly and not using it means throwing money out of the window.

            People are not changing overnight and nobody is asking them to. But not providing a viable option is a very short-sighted move, imho which is why I greatly support the encouragement of cycling in SF.

      2. The biennial SF congestion study (on page at namelink) from a year ago found on surface streets cars average around 17-18 mph and MUNI bus 8-9 mph.

        The study has data on traffic, MUNI, congestion, bike and pedestrian safety. Some is broken out for specific streets, including that Van Ness is among the streets where car speeds average 3 times or more the MUNI bus speeds.

        1. Adding to Jake’s point, at least Gough and Franklin have the lights sequenced so that if you catch it just right you can drive over one mile without stopping. (I have sometimes made it all the way from Civic Center to California Street) I always use Gough or Frnaklin instead of Van Ness, period.

          I am curious how NoeValleyJim’s bike speed continues when he encounters a steep San Francisco hill? This is not Streetsblog, but a more practical community of property owners, developers, realtors and architects who have busy professional lives and don’t have time to feel suprior because they use a bike.

          1. I am slow up a hill, often I stop and wait for Muni on those rare occasions when I really need to go up one. If you get used to bicycling around The City you can get almost anywhere other than a hilltop without going up too steep a hill.

            I can assure you I own property and while I am not a developer, realtor or architect, I often employ people in those professions. Most people think that technology is a profession with busy professionals, but perhaps you do not. I know that over 15% of my coworkers ride to work on any given day.

  8. Design is “eh”. Architectonica is NOT impressing me at all lately here in SF, except with the Infinity (which makes for difficult to furnish floorplans mind you). I expect Lumina to be intriguing, as well. This…not so much (look at Linea where the mullions posed by the rendering did not turn up so much in reality).

    I am still thrilled to have this built here, we need it! And not every building needs to be a stunner (though, why would a developer pay Architectonica to come up with this? Could have gone with SCB or a cheaper firm…gasp Heller Manus even, lol).

    Given the way the Marlow turned out (by far one of my favorite of the new buildings to go up), I think the other Pine St towers a block away on the other side of Van Ness will be so much better looking.

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