390 1st Street Site

It was only a matter of time, and now that time has come.  Plans to demolish the Union 76 Station on the northwest corner of First and Harrison have been filed.  And on the corner, a 185-unit residential building has been proposed to rise, adjacent to the 400-foot building under construction at 45 Lansing Street, across the street from the Metropolitan and catercorner to One Rincon Hill.

While the parcel is zoned for development up to 400 feet in height, the preliminary plans call for a 13-story building to rise on the 390 1st Street site with a total of 165,000 square feet of residential space, less than 900 square feet per unit, and an underground garage with its entrance on First Street for 89 cars and 124 bikes.

While a number of walk-up units would line both Lansing and First to activate the streets, the Rincon Hill development does not include any retail as proposed.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Graham

    Gross misuse of a lot zoned up to 400 feet.

    • Posted by david m

      agreed. this is a mystifying proposal. the developer doesn’t have the money to push it up?

    • Posted by NJ

      Maybe each floor is 30 feet high?

  2. Posted by NJ

    What’s up with no retail? I mean I get that the area isn’t exactly a window shopper’s paradise right now, but eventually as these condos go up, all these people living in the area are going to want drug stores, and groceries, and restaurants, and dry cleaners — within walking distance.

    • Posted by my_heart_is_in_frisco

      It is right next to a freeway onramp which is bumper to bumper pretty much all day, every day. This corner will never be pedestrian, unless the 1st st. Bay Bridge connector is tunneled underground somewhere near Mission St.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        But having walk-up residential doors fronting the sidewalks *is* supposed to “activate the streets”? ‘Cause nothing says welcoming, walkable neighborhood like a bunch of closed doors (especially once they’re covered with soot and grime from all the traffic).

    • Posted by anon

      There should be a zoning requirement for ground floor retail in all of these buildings.

  3. Posted by Denny

    NJ, totally agree with your comment. Plus now people will have to go to Third Street for gas, until that too is replaced.

  4. Posted by Sam

    This is the problem of such heavy handed forced zoning rules that we have in soma and San Francisco. The assumption is that if something is zoned for 400 feet, and then the western section can be zoned far lower, then buildings will always top out at 400 feet. Once they start topping at 130, well then your overall plan is meaningless.

  5. Posted by Karl

    not sure why the developer would waste the height limit granted. Seems like you’d gain economies of scale by increasing height and increasing unit count. Do construction costs increase dramatically on a psf basis once you get above 200 ft? Seems to be a missed opportunity with this plan.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Yes, construction costs DO increase dramatically above around 200′: more complex structural components, more core devoted to elevators and services, deeper footings. It does matter.

      Not every site zoned for a particular height HAS to be built to that. What are we? Dubai?

      • Posted by anon

        Agreed, it would be nice if many sites zoned for 45′ or 55′ could be higher if the developer decided to go higher. Why should sites zoned for a particular have to built to that?

        • Posted by Futurist

          Ah, gee. pretty simple reason.
          Because we have planning and building codes, because we are a civilized society, because height variations take into account many factors of adjacency, context, other uses, sunlight and shadow.

          That’s why.

        • Posted by Jacko

          Please ignore it, it will go away then.

  6. Posted by thoughtful

    the site is not really zoned for 400′. The zoning for rincon hill is complicated. There are tower spacing rules to ensure light and air in the district. Basically all of the gas station property is way too close to the adjacent 400′ tall 45 Lansing tower currently under construction to allow something taller than 10 stories on the gas station.

  7. Posted by my_heart_is_in_frisco

    But where am I going to be gouged for gas??

  8. Posted by grrr

    With the push to make SF pedestrian focused absolutely no attention is being paid to width of sidewalks. The skinny tower going up next to this is almost ON the street. This corner needs to have some space as the current traffic congestion is intense.

  9. Posted by seriously

    is it being kept to 120′ because it’s too close to the 400′ tower?

    I wish we could have some supertall skinny towers that seem to be so hot in manhattan right now.

    • Posted by tj

      Invent a material that will stabilize a tall thin building during an earthquake and you can have all the tall thin buildings you wish…

      • Posted by James

        I think it’s called steel.

      • Posted by seriously

        go sit in the corner and think about what you just said.

  10. Posted by Joseph A

    13 stories is not exactly short , But , thinking that a building closer to 20 stories would have been a slightly better fit with the inclusion of ground level retail

  11. Posted by unlivable city

    So how many gas stations are left in north east San Francisco? Like, two?

    • Posted by Jake

      This is one of 4 gas stations on Harrison in SOMA. Also, 3rd, 4th, and 5th each have a gas station within a mile of this location. Not the cheapest in SF, but not hard to find and rarely much wait.

      • Posted by Jacko

        SF is spoiled. Here in Sacramento there are literally 2 gas stations in the entire midtown/ Downtown grid, encompassing about 600 square blocks. And Sac is generally a very car friendly place!

    • Posted by Jake

      I meant 1 of 3 on Harrison.

      Though I don’t know of any east of Van Ness, north of Mission, and south of Bay.

      I think 2 or 3 of the stations in SOMA are proposed for development.

      • Posted by c_q

        Real estate was already too expensive by the time gas stations were invented so most stations are outside the downtown core (i.e. beyond van ness, bay and market), the few that did exist within that area are long gone. SOMA was generally industrial in nature plus with the freeway between bryant and harrison streets, most stations wound up being put in along there (nobody living nearby to complain)

        The main problem with converting gas stations to other uses is the fact that by definition the land needs hazardous material removal and abatement which is not that cheap to do, especially within SF.

  12. Posted by Graham

    When can we expect renderings?

  13. Posted by Sharon Boysel

    I’m in total agreement. Life will just get crazier when all the residents in all of these high rises need to jump in a car to go to the cleaners, drugstore,etc’ It seems that there is a Walgreens on every corner but ours.

    • Posted by Joseph A

      Except its hard not to imagine a lot of shops opening along Folsom that will serve the needs of the Thousand of new residents moving to this corner of SF

  14. Posted by thoughtful

    if you go to major european central cities, you don’t see a lot of american-style gas stations. Instead, you see much more space efficient set-ups, like curbside pumps. Just google “Paris curbside gas pump” and you gets tons of images. They’re all over Europe. Of course, the American model of gas stations economics is that the mini-marts (and to some extent repairs) bring in the money, particularly for all those stations that are actually franchises run by small operators (which I understand is most/many of them, though that is changing). They make relatively little from the gas itself. If we paid more reasonable amounts (ie more) for gas, then we wouldn’t need those land-hogging stations with their mini-marts, which are best left to the rural interstates and other places where land is not in such high demand. Of course putting pumps on the sidewalks is also not an ideal use of public pedestrian space, but there are trade-offs to be sure.
    One can imagine a whole range of more space-efficient gas dispersal systems. Seems like a good challenge for some creates designers.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      I think there may also be code issues in the U.S. – I remember seeing petrol pumps in London under a building (i.e., the multi-story building above was essentially the “canopy” that we see at U.S. gas stations). I’ve never seen that here, and presume it’s due to fire / explosion risks, and our different attitudes towards same.

  15. Posted by BTinSF

    To all the people calling for retail, know that the Planning Dept. vision for this area is to have Folsom St., one block away, as a neighborhood retail or “high” (as in Britain) street, lined with retail. All the buildings there, mostly Transbay parcels, will have ground floor retail. To the folks up the hill they say, “Sorry if you have to walk one block,” but people all over San Francisco do that.”

  16. Posted by Joseph A

    Curb side gas , probably not ,
    But , its not uncommon to see gas stations in Rome with a traditional island format , and cashier areas more the size of a Kiosk , that all said , if the economics support a neighborhood garage , and a mini mart whats the problem with that?

  17. Posted by fogmachine

    I’m going to miss Steven who runs his mechanic’s shop out of there. Honest, good work, fair prices, and fast. Hope he doesn’t go far away.

  18. Posted by JIm

    Ever pumped gas in Manhattan? Typically gas stations are on the ground floor of a multi-floor building and/or parking garage. SF Building Code requires a (fireproof) concrete podium over parking anyway.

  19. Posted by Sam

    It’s a virtual crime not to build up to 400′ when SF is in dire need of more market rate housing.

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