400 Bay Street Site: Ginsberg's Pub

Plans to raze the shuttered Ginsberg’s Dublin Pub on the corner of Bay and Mason, and build a boutique four-story hotel on the site, are moving forward and the project has been dubbed “Rainflower.”

400 Bay Rendering South Facade

As designed by NC2, the proposed development which borders North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf includes 13 hotel rooms over 2,000 square feet of retail/event space on the ground floor and basement levels. The plan doesn’t include any parking.

The roof is proposed to be finished with a 2,000-square-foot deck, primarily for use by hotel patrons but also to host private events. A setback area on the second floor would provide an additional 900 square feet of outdoor space.

400 Bay Rendering East Facade

As we first reported about the proposed project back in 2013, “having been constructed over 50 years ago, a Historic Resource Evaluation will need to be prepared for the existing building at 400 Bay before it may be razed.”

The preliminary evaluation for the project, which was just completed, doesn’t raise any red flags.  But once again, there’s always a chance a neighbor or two might Howl.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Amewsed

    This is fantastic! The nearby Fisherman’s Wharf smallish hotels leave a lot to be desired. Thank you.

  2. Posted by Economister

    That building has been sitting there empty for at least 10-15 years so needless to say I support putting anything productive there. I agree with Amewsed that it would be a great option for Fisherman’s Wharf tourists (those poor, misguided souls).

    Can someone explain to me why a property owner would let a prime piece of real estate like this sit vacant for so long? I just don’t understand the logic of it.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Prop. 13

      In any sensible jurisdiction, the property owner would be paying taxes based on a FMV or near-FMV valuation, and so would be incentivize to actually achieve that FMV (whether through a sale to someone, or a leveraged use). But with Prop 13, someone who’s owned a property for decades can carry it at virtually no cost (to themselves – at a great cost to the city, both financially and in terms of the urban fabric).

      • Posted by MarinaBoy

        I agree with you I think Prop 13 plays into the larger picture, but the main reason is all the hurdles and crazy steps you must take in SF to actually build something. It takes years and lots of money, especially if you are a smaller property owner and do not know how to make your way through the crazy system SF has!

        • Posted by Zeke

          Looks like they were paying about $9000 per year in tax. Last year it bumped up to 22k. The city doesn’t pay them, they pay the city, so it’s not a “great cost to the city” unless you live in Bizarro World where everything’s backwards. If I give you a dollar, don’t say that I just cost you a dollar because I should have given you two dollars. We’re already among the most taxed people on earth – at what level of tax will you be happy, 100%? It’s always other people who need to pay more, never yourself.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            We are not among the “most taxed people on earth”, get over that tripe. Furthermore, most of those nations with higher tax rates than ours (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc.) have higher qualities of living and higher levels of overall happiness. And better public transit and public services, better public health, and cheaper education. And that’s just the start of the list.

            You apparently live in a magic land where, since $1 is greater than $0, $1 in fact represents infinite wealth and the man with just $1 to his name should never complain. The fact is that any building imposes *costs* on a city – fire, police, streets, utilities, etc. – and so if that building is not paying its fair share, then it *is* a net cost to the city.

      • Posted by Zeke

        Well, that’s just it, the guy who has to pay more tax to meet your definition of fairness is always someone else, not you. If higher taxes are better, where do you stop? That’s not rhetorical, I’m actually interested in your answer. How much do other people need to pay, is it 100%?

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          I’ve said on here multiple times that I’m willing to pay higher taxes.

          And “fairness” is very subjective. How is it “fair” that someone could buy an identical version of this building and have to pay 5x, 10x, or even 20x more in property taxes than the guy who’s owned Ginsberg’s for decades and has a locked-in tax rate courtesy of Prop 13? That strikes me as the epitome of *UN*fairness.

          Besides which you didn’t address my salient point, which is that if costs are being imposed on a city, they have to be paid by someone, and (in your parlance of “fairness”) it seems most fair that the person imposing the costs should pay their fair share, not be coddled along because they bought their property years ago at a lower price.

  3. Posted by Hitman

    I hope someone paid a “consulting fee” to [Aaron Peskin].

  4. Posted by Mark

    “Can someone explain to me why a property owner would let a prime piece of real estate like this sit vacant for so long? I just don’t understand the logic of it.”

    Answer: because they can. Happens a lot in this town.

    Too bad the design couldn’t squeeze out another floor or two. 13 rooms. Yes, I know it’s a boutique hotel, but still. I expect more from a prime location.

  5. Posted by Amewsed

    Too many hotel rooms and you might run afoul of the adjacent apartment residents. Also, the roof top area should probably be enclosed because of potential noise, litter, etc. to adjacent buildings.

    • Posted by Hunter

      Double the height and the rooftop noise will be further from nearby tenants. 🙂

  6. Posted by Serge

    Always wondered about this location. Apparently the original use back when it was built in 1906 (or even before that, since the records are not clear) was a saloon. Ginsberg’s Pub was there since 1995 (per permit application filed that year). Sanborn maps from 1899 show that a building occupying the same footprint was used as the North Beach Hotel. An 1894 directory shows “North Beach Hotel, A. Ketterer proprietor, 400-402 Bay”. Would come full circle if this were made a hotel again.

    Does anyone have any additional history on it?

    • Posted by Serge

      A few more details. An 1898 directory lists the following names for 400 Bay:

      Schnutenhaus George, laborer Cal. Sugar Rer., r. 400 Bay
      Schnutenhaus Harry, bartender M. Schnutenhaus, r. 400 Bay
      Schnutenhaus Leo, r. 400 Bay
      Schnutenhaus Oscar J., clerk, r. 400 Bay
      Schnutenhaus Ottilie, widow, r. 400 Bay

      Directories from other years show quite a few different people. Was likely a boarding house or small apartment building, definitely not the warehouse-like building it is now.

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