The owners of the 86-unit Kirkham Heights apartment complex at Fifth Avenue and Kirkham have filed a proposal to demolish the existing complex and redevelop the 6-acre site at the base of Mount Sutro with up to 460 new units in a series of buildings rising up to 40-feet in height.

The development would be the largest residential development in the history of the Inner Sunset, as reported by the Chronicle, with “a series of small plazas connected with a network of paths and staircases…tied into the Mount Sutro trail network.”

And as proposed, The Kirkham Project includes six new buildings, a mix of apartments and condos, with 86 rent-controlled apartments to replace those which would be razed.  Twelve (12) percent of the proposed development would be offered at below market rates, as is required by San Francisco’s Planning Code.

52 thoughts on “Largest Development in the History of SF’s Inner Sunset Proposed”
  1. Sounds great. City needs more housing the those older styles are highly inefficient use of space / land. The Presidio needs to raise some of its older rental stock and infill with some more density and there are several other dated developments that could benefit from this type of urban rethinking; even if its a fairly transparent way to put more $$$ in the developers pockets. But good for them for trying.

  2. As a resident of the Inner Sunset, I think this is a great redevelopment opportunity and appreciate the increased density. It would be nice if they could incorporate the old UCSF Proctor building on the corner into the site plan; the new UCSF long range development plan shows it demo’d. Could be nice if the paths linked up to the Overlook development up the slope too. nice renderings on their website.

  3. My initial reaction was “No!” – the Sutro Open Space is one of the unknown gems of the City. But a 40′ height is nothing extreme, and the inner Sunset could use a little more foot traffic.

  4. The project website has more detail and some nice drawings. Looks better integrated into the landscape than the Sunset apts nearby. They are proposing 0.5 off-street parking per unit and 12 on-street parking. Inner Sunset has 1.25 cars/unit and 84% of households have at least one car, according to 2010 Census.

    1. I merely shared facts from the developer and the US Census. I didn’t make any claims about what caused these facts.

  5. The existing complex was built in 1950. That would mean rent control applies, right? Would the new complex have a current build date? Meaning no rent control?

      1. Kind of. In one of the towers of The Trinity complex, the old tenants got a new lifetime lease in the new building. I don’t think it remains under rent control after they die though.

    1. It would be interesting to see, if there were equivalent rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled units side by side, if that would have an effect on the initial asking rent.

  6. The developer agreeing to preserve the same number of rent-controlled units that will be demolished has been done at Trinity Plaza and at Parcmerced.

    1. Ok, I didn’t read the entire article. So, let me recap what I think I understand.

      New project – 460 units
      Rent control – 86 units
      BMR program – 12% (let’s say 56 units)

      Is this right? The BMR units will be in addition to the RC units?

  7. For that many units, it’d be nice if the project included some small ground floor retail too. Though, if the Crestmont Dr. project was any indication, the project won’t have even half as many units as are being proposed.

    1. Why would there be retail at this site? It’s basically a residential cul-de-sac – not to mention, just a couple blocks from Parnassus and Irving.

      1. True, though Parnassus only has UCSF’s cafeteria and it’s more like 4 blocks to the commercial portion of Irving or 9th Ave. It sounds like the developer is trying to promote walkability with stairways placed both on the hillside going up to Crestmont and the Sutro trails, and anyone familiar with Forest Knolls knows that the hills can be a slog going up. Having a cafe or a small corner store could be a great meeting point for Forest Knolls residents and the planned density would be more than sufficient to support it. It wouldn’t be unheard of to place small, singular stores in predominantly residential neighborhoods (e.g. Julius’ Castle or retail in the planned 1601 Mariposa project.)

  8. They should have made it 420 units in an homage to what they must be smoking. This is a quiet cul de sac that the 60’s ravaged with almost 100 ugly cookie cutter apartments. Now they want to quadruple that? The neighborhood should rightly resist. Its a loony idea on every level.

  9. This is a great idea and completely appropriate for the neighborhood. The increased density will make it a much better place to live and it is near the N. I am sure the usual NIMBYs will be out in force to try and stop it though. That part of town is particularly infested with them.

    1. Not sure I agree. How will the increased density make it a better place to live? Are the Avalon Towers (Sunset Towers) a few blocks away a “better place to live” than the row houses at Windsor Terrace two blocks down?

      1. Density alone does not make it a better place to live, but density plus the things that the Inner Sunset already has do.

        1. both are true – the N is one of the better lines, in terms of frequency of service; but at this very-inner Sunset location, you’ll rarely get a seat inbound, even on weekends. I’d like to see Muni run supplemental “inner N” service – say, from downtown to 18th. kind of crazy that on the weekends the wait for an inbound N in the inner Sunset can be 18, 20, or more minutes.

          1. Make sense. T-Third is going to have a short run to 18th St once central subway opens. Perhaps N can use a short run as well.

            NX is awesome by the way. One can reach financial district in as short as 20 minutes from central sunset.

  10. The old complex appears to consist of soft story buildings. The rebuild will allow residents to live in seismically safer housing.

  11. I live only a couple of blocks away from this site and I don’t object to the plan. It seems likely that they will attract many people who work at ucsf – people who will still be at this campus after many functions are transferred to Mission Bay. It’s a good neighborhood for transit, several bus lines and the N of course. Traffic and parking of course drive all of these debates but like it or not we live in a big city.

  12. Looks like a great idea, especially with the network of stairs and trails and plazas. Density done right, with acknowledgement of the human scale and putting dense housing next to greenbelts, instead of sprawling over nature. It sounds it will be a nice place to live, close to public transport AND trails! Well, except for the hill part. But, hey, free cardiovascular exercise, at least until you’re too old, then I guess you’ll have to get a motorized wheelchair. The hills of San Francisco are not conducive to the unhealthy!

  13. i like the plan, but like others here, am also concerned about public transport. Our public transport is 40 years out of date. We should have subway lines all over the city. Muni is not going to cut it, even if improved. and the large focus on bike lanes for the 3% who use them does not make a dent. We need a visionary planner and some activists to get this moving. Im willing to step up if we can get some adults in the planning dept.

    1. You post the same gibber-jabber about subways often without seemingly any understanding of the economics or politics involved

      We really don’t need a “visionary” planner and “planners” don’t plan anything

      1. regardless, it’s true that the N should be undergrounded to past 19th avenue, to speed up service times. but that’s just one of many (many many) things that should be done to improve service, as the population and density of the city continue to increase.

      2. would you prefer i change my jobber jabber to be more aligned with your jibber jabber. Do you have some reason to believe i dont understand the economics or politics? I never said it would be easy.

        All this city does for transportation is place band aid after band. someone needs to step up with a vision and a plan that can capture the community and cause political will to change. right now, we are just reshuffling the chairs on the deck.

        by the way, do you know of any other major coastal city without a usable subway system? our city is extremely wealthy for its size, the scale is small and we claim to be more progressive and forward thinking. Does anything about our transportation plan align with that vision we have of ourselves?

        1. The issues you present require cooperation from three or more generations of mayors, one elected official can not do it all. Transit problems require long term planning and solutions. Cooperation is a must, but SF is a place that is so disenfranchised from itself that every block has its own climate, it’s own leaders, its own transit options, its own traffic flow. Iron frosted leadership is necessary, its how we got the Rose Pak subway (love it or hate it).

          1. yes, i agree with you. Things are certainly too fragmented by neighborhood for such a small city. I really dont get the way you can only vote for BOS in your district. We need to focus on electing moderates and people who have experience getting things done and are not into waging class warfare.

            and we need regional cooperation. Do i have a perfect solution? no, but just because something is hard doesn’t mean we shouldnt try

    2. 4% of all trips are made by bicycle Spencer, you know that. 6% of all residents ride a bicycle daily and 17% ride at least weekly.

  14. If you care about transit vote Yes on Prop A ($500m bond) and Yes on Prop B (Muni supplement to make up for loss of Sunday meter revenue and free Muni for kids) and No on Prop L (cars before pedestrians, bikes or Muni).

  15. Vote yes on Prop A to keep the plans to speed up the N Judah moving forward, and make sure the maintenance facilities are kept up to date to handle repairs. We don’t need to underground the N, just streamline its right of way and reduce the number of times it has to stop at lights or stop signs. (Under-grounding would be prohibitively expensive and take far longer than improving the current situation.) New rail vehicles will be arriving in the next few years which will reduce breakdowns, as will the enhanced repairs of the current stock. Everything is possible with public support, political will, and funding.

    1. until i see a decent plan in place to make transportation better, im voting no on all of these. i dont trust SMTA to do the right thing with the money and its too much of a blank check.

      I looked at all propositions and will only vote yes on sugary beverage tax and yes on artificial turf. everything else is a clear no to me

      1. All you do is complain about Muni, which you agree is massively underfunded and then you vote against more funding. I think you just like to hear yourself complain, you are doing nothing to improve the situation at all.

        1. i guess you have more trust in your local govt than do I. i have been in numerous conversations with my supervisor recently. I dont like to vote to give more money without a plan i believe in. I dont invest in stocks in companies where the mgmt doesnt have a cohesive and great long term plan in place. This is the same as investing.

      2. “We need more progress, that’s why I vote against progress!”
        This makes as much sense as when reactionaries (NIMBYs) label themselves “progressives”.

  16. I am curious how the owner will be able to evict all their tenants. I assume that none of their rent controlled tenants are willing to move out to pay market rent.

    What reason can the owner use to evict the tenants? Will the tenants ask the city politicians to stop the development?

    1. “Will the tenants ask the city politicians to stop the development?”

      Good question. I assume that the SFTU and other tenant activists will try to stop the development. Parkmerced has been fought tooth and nail by tenant groups who are fearful of the loss of rent controlled housing. The agreement calls for retention of the existing number of rent controlled units and the net addition of over 5k of new units, however there is quite a bit of mistrust.

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