600 Van Ness

The long-standing McDonald’s at 600 Van Ness Avenue which was built in 1978 has been abruptly boarded up and stripped of its original signage.  While the plan for the parcel has yet to be filed with Planning, the site is zoned for development up to 130-feet in height.

Plans for a 13-story building to rise on the site, with 144 units of senior housing over parking for 173 cars and a 10,000-square-foot commercial space, were approved and permitted nearly two decades ago, but those plans were never executed and expired.

Keep in mind that McDonald’s owns the site and the aforementioned development plans specifically included allowances for “fast food” and drive-up uses related to the commercial space.  In other words, it’s entirely possible that McDonald’s is planning to return to the site at the base of any new development.

31 thoughts on “Van Ness McDonald’s Closed, Zoned For 13-Story Development”
  1. FINALLY…the decades-long ghetto drug den…oops…i mean McDons…is bye bye!
    Nice! Now let’s hope BKs drug/sex lot (i.e., parking lot on Eddy at Van Ness) is next up to raze.

  2. Awesome. Walked by this several months ago and couldn’t believe that this use and building was how this incredibly prime lot was being used.

    And I’ll eat my socks if the owner / developer is able to get a fast food drive-thru built at this location, in 2015!

      1. That’s why security guards exist. They just need to hire some and move the non-customers out. If it can work on Powell St near the cable car turnaround, it can work here.

        By the way, do we have SF’s minimum wage increase to thank for this corporate decision?

      1. soylent green :-p

        Nowhere in particular – I was just curious why there are so many senior housing developments on Van Ness as opposed to other neighborhoods.

        1. Probably because it’s less trendy than the quainter neighborhoods (where they build what you might call “yuppie housing”) and there are large lots available.

        2. Toured San Francisco Towers a few years ago with a family member. It is pretty high end living for seniors, it was managed by the Ritz Carlton Hotel group. I was underaged (for senior housing) but thought hey, I wouldn’t mind living here part-time. I didn’t like the aspect of paying a condo. type fee (for a life estate in essence because ownership of the condo reverts back to SF Towers) and several thousand dollars per month for service and care. There seemed to be an inherent conflict of interest between the Towers (for churning the unit) and its residents (who like to stay alive as long as possible.)

          Many of the senior housing have shuttles. I doubt many seniors could safely cross Van Ness St. on foot.

  3. It’s a cool, 1978 concrete brutalist building that never should have been painted. Someone notable designed it, but I can’t recall who. Portmann, maybe?

    1. This kind of statement is my concern. We are going to start “preserving” 1970s fast food buildings now?

      What is the urbanistic, land use, or aesthetic value of this building? It’s largely blank walled, has cheap and ill-proportioned architectural forms.

      But no…some From Bauhaus to Our House koolaid drinker “designed” it, so it must be forever “preserved”.

      1. Everything is historic if it 45 years old unless clearly marked an “C” Non-historic. So yes, 1970 is historic, but not the rest of the 70’s (yet)

    1. Yup, me too. Maybe a few years after they opened. As a kid, it was a treat to go there (it was so spacious, bright, airy, and cool back then) after being dragged along by family to pay property taxes at City Hall. Did that in person instead of mailing it in. Part of the whole “let’s venture outside, look around, and learn something.”

      There was a Kentucky Fried Chicken on Eddy Street, near the CCSF Adult School. I helped the ESL teachers (when I was on a school break) clean the blackboards, make copies of reading materials, and practice conversation with the adult students. In exchange, I got free access to the teacher’s lounge library full of children’s books, candy, and other treats from the teachers. Once in a while, after saving up money, my family bought me a 99 cents chicken and corn meal, with a warm dinner roll and real butter. Life was good then. Didn’t need a lot of money, just had a lot of love.

        1. Ha! Not for long perhaps! I should drive by the area before everything changes. I don’t eat KFC anymore but my family member had nostaligic cravings for the chicken and corn meal during the last couple of years of her life so I indulged her (even though the mash potato and gravy tasted like paste.) It made her happy and that was enough for me.

          This thread has been a great walk down memory lane.

  4. This McDonald’s has been incredibly badly run for years. It was allowed to become a homeless home where paying customers were panhandled inside, fights broke out in the dining room and one might expect the unwashed to join one unbidden at a table. Even the location at Golden Gate and Fillmore was a Nirvana by comparison. Several times I wrote McDonald’s Corp. and urged them to hire a security guard like BK does on Powell St.

    So they are going. Well good. But the entire block is blighted and I hope the building doesn’t sit there boarded up for long. It will be covered with graffiti quickly.

    [Editor’s Note: Going but not necessarily gone (note rewritten last paragraph above).]

  5. Just walked by it today and was surprised. I enjoy fast food as a guilty pleasure here and there but I long ago decided this was not the place to do it. All the homeless just gave the place a layer of grime not conducive to a place where you eat.

    If I was McDonalds, I’d cash in on the lot in whatever way was most profitable, but I would think for the replacement, trying to get a ground floor retail space in the CPMC MOB at Geary would be a far more productive location. Even if doctors aren’t their target market, plenty of others work in hospitals and doctors’ offices and would end up using it as a quick lunch break option.

    Of course that CPMC building won’t be done until like 2019 or so, but anyway, I have a feeling even a new restaurant built on this block is going to be gross pretty quick.

    1. Pass on any fast food joint @ or near any hospital. Just plain wrong. Been to numerous dinner parties w/ physicians and was hard pressed to find any sodas (unless it is Hansen’s) or junk/unhealthy food. You have a chips craving? Good luck! Gnaw on this crunchy raw vegetable or here is a piece of fruit.

      Friend married a nutritionist and he had to sneak around eating unhealthy/comfort food during lunch like he was having a nooner with a mistress. Poor man wept when he went home for dinner w/ the wife and kid.

      1. I happen to be a retired doctor and, while I don’t eat a lot of double cheeseburgers, I do drink diet soda by the bucketful and I used to patronize this McDonald’s because I could walk there for a cheap one. I will actually miss it but agree the recently existing place was a dump and the lot underutilized. Thank G*d for Subway.

  6. As usual, I find myself wishing It could be higher. We need the housing. Why not throw in 5 extra floors of market rate and add a second floor set aside for community center/non-profit meeting or activity rooms set-aside that presumably other senior centers in the area in addition to this one could take advantage of. Make it a top floor and have Tai Chi Tuesdays – with a view! Whatever. Let people rent it cheap. Why are we afraid of building high if it makes our city better?

    1. man, i think it’s important to clear something up: there is nothing currently proposed for this site, so that we don’t yet have anything to wish was higher. the senior housing plan was from the very early 1990s, over 20 years ago and there’s no possibility that they’ll dust that application off. the socketsite dude was just speculating because of how strange and abrupt the closure is and how unusual it is for macdonalds burgers to ditch a spot.

      1. Tai Chi Tuesdays instead of Taco Tuesday? Why not razed the spot and let food trucks, taco and cerviche stands use the space until a project is ready.

        Tried Tai Chi once and pulled a muscle and/or strained my back. Funny how I don’t get injured picking up gallon paint cans all day, lifting construction materials, or big bags of groceries. Building it higher would be great. Have offices on levels one to five, and residences higher. Van Ness is noisy so the higher and away from traffic, the better for housing.

  7. Yes let’s blame the McDonalds, because the city of San Francisco only encourages the junkies…

    There were a lot of hard Working people working at this restaurant who you are blaming for the typical tenderloin residents.

    Without the dedicated staff of this McDonald’s crew keeping the junkies moved on as much as possible without police assistance tis truly will become crazy..

    You can’t blame the McDonalds for San Francisco being a hot bed of drugs.

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