150 Van Ness Rendering

The Emerald Fund’s proposed 420-unit building to rise up to 13-stories along Hayes, stretching from Van Ness Avenue to Polk Street, shouldn’t come as a surprise to any plugged-in readers as we first broke the news about the plans for the 150 Van Ness Avenue development back in 2013.

150 Van Ness Rendering: Polk Street Facade

That being said, apparently quite a few of the parents whose children attend the LePort PreSchool, which now occupies the historic building at 50 Fell Street and abuts one of the 150 Van Ness project’s five parcels, are not too pleased with the detailed plans for the development which show the building coming within five and one half feet of the school’s existing windows and classrooms.

The project, as designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), will be presented to San Francisco’s Planning Commission for approval next week.  Expect a number of angry parents to be in attendance, perhaps with their preschoolers in tow.

In addition to the 420 apartments which would average 785 square feet apiece, the proposed 150 Van Ness development includes 9,000 square feet of retail space on the southeast corner of Van Ness and Hayes and parking for 216 autos in an underground garage.

150 Van Ness: Ground Floor Plan

The existing building at 150 Van Ness Avenue, which has already been stripped of its guts and facade, will be demolished to make way for the development as proposed.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by DCR

    Kind of reminiscent of the old Galaxy Theater on Geary. Looks like we may have come full circle?

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Not even close to what the Galaxy looked like.

  3. Posted by mdg399

    Please save that gorgeous lobby inside that awful façade…

    [Editor’s Note: The existing building at 150 Van Ness Avenue, which has already been stripped of its guts and facade, will be demolished to make way for the development.]

    • Posted by MDG399

      Does that mean that that gorgeous Moorish lobby was destroyed?

  4. Posted by Brian M

    I’m going to contradict my own quips and say that the building looks like a 1985 bank building from Enid, Oklahoma or maybe Anderson, Indiana. The colors are horrible, the glass forms are bland and soft and terribly banal.

  5. Posted by sassyboyfrisco

    Nice…now let the building party begin!

  6. Posted by Sutro_Tower

    So long quirky pedestrian bridge over Hayes St. This article from Hoodline has a nice image of 150 Van Ness before its unfortunate remodel.

  7. Posted by James

    Why is there this trend for uniting multiple stories in a single window recess? It makes a 10-story building look like a cartoonishy large 5-storey building, and it distorts a proper reading of the building structure. Is there some theory behind it that I don’t understand?

    • Posted by Michael

      It’s the cheap/cheaters way to disguise the mass of a building.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        I don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with that – particularly in this city, that’s so sensitive to height and density, I think it’s a plus, not a negative, to try to make the building look less bulky.

      • Posted by Futurist

        It’s not a “cheaters/cheaper” way to design a building. It’s simply a particular design idiom/direction that architects may choose to incorporate in their project. It can be used to break up the massing and scale of a building into simpler components. Right or wrong? Not relevant.

        It’s a personal design decision. I like it.

      • Posted by Comment

        It’s number of things… either good or bad, but it is definitely used to disguise height and mass. So are all the “bay” windows.

        • Posted by Ifred

          Buildings massing is regulated, dictated, and approved by City planners given the context of the neighborhood. Sometimes bay windows, and other building massing features, are a requirement to replicate or relate to something in that neighborhood history.

    • Posted by Jon Schwark

      I think in San Francisco that started with the Flood Building, right before the great quake. It was intended to provide a human scale by making the new “skyscrapers” downtown echo the form and number of vertical divisions in a Victorian home.

  8. Posted by loftlover

    @James, I believe it’s done in order to save time and cost.

  9. Posted by zig

    I like that BRT is in the photo. Must expect to break ground on this building in 2021

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      hopefully they will scrap BRT and do something that will be more transformative: SUBWAY
      tiny incremental improvements every 20 yrs is a shame when we are one of the richest cities and have the most high tech people inn the world. Its like the city govt is stuck in 1980 while a good amount of the populace is more advances than anywhere in the world.

  10. Posted by anontoo

    Lots of potential here to detail this into a very elegant building. I like how understated it is. The more you look, the more you notice.

  11. Posted by JB10

    Apart from the mediocre design, look how narrow it makes Hayes St look. There should be a wider sidewalk if this street is not to be a rat run.

    • Posted by Hunter

      agreed, Hayes needs wider sidewalks all the way to Webster. Feels like walking on a freeway.

  12. Posted by BobN

    Having to walk more than a (long) block from the elevator to ones front door sounds particularly lovely…

  13. Posted by Jim

    Good riddance. Welcome!

  14. Posted by cody

    The beautiful lobby was there before the building closed. By now it is probably history.
    There are several old buildings in the city with that “modern” green cladding from the same era. One with a white skin is at the northeast corner of Van Ness & Market.

    It is funny that James mentions the double tall window treatment. I thought the Bellaggio Hotel Casino was half it’s height till I checked into the hotel.

    The Bay to Breakers crowd will miss the pedestrian bridge with the banner that proclaimed the distance causing the crowd to sigh as they rounded the corner.

    • Posted by Jim B

      The lobby is still intact, waiting for the permit process

      • Posted by Tenderloinsf

        Interesting because I thought they got a lot of support because they tought they would keep the lobby…

  15. Posted by Pietari Grohn

    I’m a longtime reader and a parent of a two year at LePort. My son’s classroom is one of the classrooms that would be window to window with the new building. Having a peeping apartment just five feet away from a classroom used by toddlers (infants to five year olds in the other classrooms) makes me uncomfortable. Not only would the apartment look into the classroom, but also directly into the bathroom, which does not have doors or privacy as its being used to toilet train a dozen toddlers.

    • Posted by Ham

      Curtains.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      Have the school put up an etched or opaque window film on affected windows. It lets in the light but blocks direct view. Otherwise that is a funny and cute image of a bunch of toddlers trying to out poop each other.

      • Posted by Tenderloinsf

        I wonder why they kept the building 40 feet plus from the neighbor residential buildings. One would think it would be a lot more interesting to see adults…

    • Posted by Ifred

      The kids of the people who will have a job because of this project need it too just as bad some people don’t like the project. Curtains, fun window covering for the school kids, jobs and food for the other kids, it’s a win win.

      • Posted by LePort parent

        Ifred – this definitely is not a win win for anyone except the developer. Young children need access to natural light and views not “fun” windows. This is one of only 3 stand alone child care centers in the downtown – which is a rediculous statistic. The developer has pushed the envelope on the lot coverage behind the school while giving plenty of space in front of their other building, 100 Van Ness. To bribe the school into acceptance they are offering the school 200k.

        The 13% of the SF population which are children deserve better.

        • Posted by Ifred

          LePort parent – Not sure the existing ugly parking lot offers the “views” that this project will block and natural light will still be there. The 13% of the SF population which are children absolutely deserve better and this project is not the reason there are only 3 stand alone child care centers in downtown. What’s the percentage of SF children that can afford attending a for profit school and pay a few thousand dollars a month in tuition? I’m sure we all want the best for SF children, all of them not a select group only, and the only way to do that if we sicerely care about all not just our own.

          • Posted by Tenderloinsf

            Well, think what it would be if private schools didn’t exist.

        • Posted by Amewsed

          Chill out and get a grip. Your child deserve a better parent. Your toddler isn’t going to die of rickets because he/she spent a few moments in his/her life in a daycare center. You want the perfect place to raise a child: the suburbs. Better yet: Marin. Where all the lawyers and physicians with children live who choose to send their kids to public schools instead of private SF or South Bay schools. Then, you can bask the child into melanoma if you want.

          But judging from your posts, it is clear you have many more issues and dissatisfaction beyond this 420 unit development next door.

        • Posted by [Ifred]

          “Expect a number of angry parents to be in attendance, perhaps with their preschoolers in tow”. I’m sure, and hope, the parents of these kids are better than victimizing their kids in public. Please don’t drag the kids into this. Don’t turn your love for your kids into anger, turn it into more love and be an example of this city’s great loving tolerant culture. Make the kids proud and show them a good example.

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          why do kids need views? My school windows in unnamed rural southern town was totally covered with paitnings, drawings, homework all the way from K-6th grade. And the ones that weren’t were darkened and we were discouraged from looking out as oppossed to paying attention. it was a great place to go to school, and the last thing we cared about was what was outside the windows. i dont get why kids need views during school

          • Posted by Tenderloinsf

            Kids don’t need views. They need light, natural light. These are preschoolers and thank goodness schools have evolved from what you apparently experienced. Tour preschools and we won’t even find tables and chairs in some. Also this is not a rural southern town.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            kids are not plants.

    • Posted by [Ifred]

      “Expect a number of angry parents to be in attendance, perhaps with their preschoolers in tow”. I’m sure, and hope, the parents of these kids are better than victimizing their kids in public. Please don’t drag the kids into this. Don’t turn your love for your kids into anger, turn it into more love and be an example of this city’s great loving tolerant culture. Make the kids proud and show them a good example.

      • Posted by Amewsed

        If I had a nickel for every pediatrician and primary care doctor in private practice who complain about their whiney and unreasonable parents/patients, I would be on the cover of Forbes Magazine. Parents who play victims will have children who play victims. Guess who won’t get into a good college and find a high paying job? The fruit does not fall far from the tree.

    • Posted by Pietari Grohn

      No one is calling for a stop to the development, just that real consideration should be taken into how the project effects the existing neighbors – in this particular case, the daycare/preschool in the adjacent building. To that end, the developer has offered to put plywood boxes with fluorescent lights around the classroom windows to mitigate the privacy concern and/or to frost the windows on the apartments. Seems like smart people could come up with a better solution.

      • Posted by [Ifred]

        Pietari Grohn – That’s great to hear, there’s always a win-win solution if all sides are willing to communicate and reason with that and the kids best interest in mind. SF is all about coexisting, I hope everybody follows your way of thinking.

    • Posted by Steve W

      Shouldn’t naked toddlers in the toilet have a one way mirror window looking out only so no one can look in already? There’s a high homeless population in the area and lots of building currently in the area are high enough to see in through any windows already.

  16. Posted by Ham

    It looks too much like Fox Plaza behind it for me to have any sort of appreciation for this.

  17. Posted by BayviewSF

    Good news for the mid-marekt area.

    I am a little worried about all these new condo plans. There seems to be too many of them recently. Every time when we have a recession, there is a glut of new condos. I am afraid that we will have an extreme condo glut in a few years when the economy goes sour. Developers need to be careful, do not build based on herd mentality.

    Housing shortage can turn into housing glut quickly, often when every developer has a big project under construction.

    • Posted by anon

      I’m struggling to see the downside here. Prices will fall and ? The city becomes the third most expensive city in the US? Oh noes!

      What are you worried about?

      • Posted by BayviewSF

        As I said, it is better to build more rental buildings. When there are too many rentals, rent will decrease and more people will move into SF.

        When there is a condo glut, the expensive condos will sit in the market for years and no one will buy. Price may stay flat or decline, but it won’t help anyone during a recession. It is bad to have empty condos.

  18. Posted by BayviewSF

    I hope it is an apartment building instead of condo project. Building more rental buildings is good to make rent more affordable. Too many condos are very risky.

    • Posted by anon

      Why are you so worried about the profits of developers? The worst thing that happens is that some people go bankrupt (including possibly developers). Really not seeing the downside to adding additional supply, which lasts forever.

      • Posted by BayviewSF

        It is better to have a rent reduction instead of a housing price fall. When rent is reduced, landlord usually hold out and it benefits the tenants. More people will move into SF since it is so desirable.

        However, housing price fall will hurt too many people and no one will benefit.

        • Posted by parklife

          Lots of people benefit from lower housing prices. First time homebuyers, those looking to trade up, people moving to SF from less expensive locales, etc.

          • Posted by BayviewSF

            Counterintuitively, declining price do not benefit first time buyer. Every buyer likes to see his property appreciate instead of depreciate. When a condo price falls from 900k to 800k, and a first time buyer bought at 800k. Is it benefiting the buyer? If the price continue to decline to 700k next year, it sure does not help the buyer.

            Purchase is different than renting. Tenants will benefit in a declining market because rental agreement has a end date. Tenant can move to a lower priced rental after the high priced lease ends. But a home purchase is irrevocable. A homeowner can not return the condo to seller after purchase, he will be stuck when the price falls.

          • Posted by anon

            We should not be setting policy to ensure that house prices never go down, because that leads to a situation that we have now where prices are always going up. As nice as this may be to buyers, it’s terrible for society as a whole.

            Let them build away, and sometimes we’ll overbuild and have falling prices. That’s a VERY good thing.

          • Posted by BayviewSF

            I am not proposing any policy to restrict growth. We have too many regulations already. In fact, SF should really deregulate.

            I was just giving my opinion that developers will overbuild and some of the developers should learn to be smart and do not build big projects all at the same time. But I will give everyone the freedom to build whatever they like to build. Market will make adjustments and human being has been surviving for millions of years under its own will, even though sometimes it can be a little irrational.

          • Posted by anon

            Good to hear. The market has to err on the overbuilding side some of the time in order for demand to stay in balance. Mostly due to regulations, we always err on the underbuilding side and never meet demand. We should have prices falling some of the time in a correctly functioning market.

  19. Posted by [Ifred]

    “Expect a number of angry parents to be in attendance, perhaps with their preschoolers in tow”, victimizing and using your kid to sway public opinion, how shameful would that be? I hope these “angry” parents turn into real parents and don’t do that for their kids sake unless they have a good answer when their kid ask them “did you ever victimize me in public mom?”

    • Posted by Tenderloinsf

      I am not sure if you are aware with the concept of Spring Break. Yes, the hearing would be mid day of a spring break day. So if they have to bring their toddlers because they dont’t have anyone to watch them I don’t see what’s wrong with it.
      These aren’t angry parents. These are concerned parents.

      • Posted by Ifred

        I’m not sure you are aware of the concept of Spring Break either. Last time I checked taking toddlers to a public hearing wasn’t a Spring Break activity. One would think those concerned parents would be concerned about locking their toddlers in a closed room full of people for a few hours? How about taking them to the park instead for some fresh air? “angry parents” is a straight quote from the article.

        • Posted by Tenderloinsf

          Well if parents need to attend the hearing to voice their concerns they can’t take them to the park. Get it? And I thought you were all for toddlers inside a room, with curtains, a wall five feet a way and no natural light. If so, seems to me that the hearing room will be perfect. It makes them more urban.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            can someone please explain why toddlers needs views? arent they supppossed to be busy doing stuff.? i think every person whos in a cubicle without enough natural light should raise havoc too. maybe they can call their parents in to help.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Of course kids don’t need views. The kids are just being exploited by adults as a proxy for their wants. “Think of the children…” ya know.

        • Posted by Amewsed

          Last time I was on a break from elementary school, my mother took me with her to either look at open houses (to buy as investment properties) or to the stock market exchange (to listen, dissect, and analyze good stock buys.) We spent no time baking cookies or sitting around the kitchen.

  20. Posted by Ifred

    Great, the classroom will help make them more urban as well, problem solved, see you in the park.

    • Posted by Tenderloinsf

      Kids are being exploited? Yes. By the developer that rather go ahead with is plan than sacrifice some space. Because in today’s society is more important to have an indoor basketball court than give more light to classrooms. Why don’t they play basketball outdoors? There are plenty of infrastructures.

  21. Posted by Jim

    Great result. The Planning Commission upheld the Market Octavia Plan and the 420 unit plan for 150 Van Ness. Watching the hearing, it occurred to me the “parents” were at the wrong venue – the persons to “blame” are the school’s landlord, who knew full well the Neighborhood plan and the developer plan, and the parents themselves who obviously did not do their due diligence. They leased a building next door to a construction site for the 30+ story old AAA tower, with scaffolding hanging over the school site. And next door there was the vacant deteriorated 150 Van Ness site with a party wall up against the school site. And there were the well publicized Market Octavia plan and the well-know developer plan. The parents have only their own stupidity to blame for apparently never even enquiring what was going to happen next door.

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