800 Presidio Avenue Demolition

The former one-story Booker T. Washington Community Services Center (BTWCSC) at 800 Presidio Avenue has been razed and the building permits for a new five-story Center originally designed by Brand + Allen – with 50 units of affordable housing, around 15,000 square feet of program space, and a 175-seat gymnasium – have been issued, four years after being approved.

800 Presidio Avenue Rendering

And with Brand + Allen having since closed its doors, Perry Architects is now leading the charge for the BTWCSC which provides programs and services for at-risk youth.

Of the 50 units of housing, 24 units will be set aside for low-income households and another 24 will be designated for low and very-low income transitional age youth.

A basement garage with its entrance along Sutter Street will provide 21 off-street parking spaces.

800 Presidio Avenue Rendering: Sutter Street Elevation

Neighbors had objected to the development, which should take around 18 months to construct, as being ‘out-of-scale’ for the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood.

800 Presidio Avenue Rendering

UPDATE: Refined Designs For the Lower Pac Heights Development.

24 thoughts on “‘Out-Of-Scale’ Lower Pac Heights Development Underway”
  1. Let’s just stipulate that “out-of-scale” can be translated to “out-of-scale with our expectations of the new residents socio-economic status”.

  2. Good design, now if only they can build a new outdoor park/playfield across the street over the muni Yards, with solar and water retention, could be a nice new neighborhood addition all around…

  3. More like the 1 story building was out of scale. After all, there’s a 4-story building across the street on Sutter.

    This city never ceases to amaze me…

  4. My ride service to work takes me past this site every morning. Forlorn is the word for these blocks facing the MUNI yard. Perhaps we shall see a resurgence of buses covered with graffiti with 24 units “designated for low and very-low income transitional age youth” just across the street.

  5. If your mind is stuck in a 20th century mindset and you believe that change should go at a pace appropriate for your personal comfort, then you might think this is “out of scale”.
    If you have limited vision for the future, then you might think this is “out of scale”.
    If you are old and tired, and you just want to retire comfortably in a quiet little town out in the country, but for some reason can’t bring yourself to leave the city, then you might think this is “out of scale”.
    This is the 21st century. There are 8 million people living in the Bay Area.
    We are a large, globally significant metropolitan area.
    I’d like to suggest that nothing, Nothing, is “out of scale” for our region at this stage in our economic development.
    We can and should build lots and lots of high-rises, rooftop parks, multi-level retail, skybridges, trains, tunnels, and yes, even multi-story community centers such as this one. We can and should do this throughout the Bay Area, but especially in the urban cores of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. And yes, throughout those cities and outlying areas, not just in the tiny areas designated as ‘downtown’.
    To do anything less would be like going to a steakhouse and ordering chicken, anything less is just a waste of potential.

    1. AMEN, BUT…
      If anything, this development locks the property into a massively UNDERscale size for the next 40+years
      Every time we build a 5 story building instead of a 15-story one, thats 2 more parcels that have to be redeveloped to make the equivalent housing. Pretty soon we will run out of parking lots and gas stations, and we are just pushing those hard decisions off 20 years. Fewer taller buildings will make less of an impact on the quality and historical character of the city than slapping down a bunch of 5-story garbage because we think it will make us more like Europe.

  6. whenever i read about anything being “out of scale” i like to look at pictures of new architecture from other american cities and think about what could be possible here in our very sensitive city. this could easily be 10 stories and no one would die. it’s sad we can’t build tall apartment buildings, like the ones nearby on california @ baker and broderick. those are 7 stories (with much higher ceilings i’m sure, so really a modern day 8 story building). no one is wailing and moaning about those not keeping with neighborhood character.

    1. For serious – Presidio Base is a hole and even SFMTA deserves better. Only a big joint development could make the rebuild feasible, especially if any significant open space is included. I think they need to spec the next gen electric buses before they can fully design. Interestingly, you could put up a fairly tall tower and still leave view space for existing residents across Masonic. Fantastic views in both directions.

      1. SFMTA probably doesn’t need to have the full specs on the next generation of buses before proceeding. All they need to know is the general “envelope” of the bus which will probably be exactly the same as the existing buses since the whole overhead power cable network also was designed for that legacy envelope.

  7. I do agree that it’s out of scale; for that amazing location it should be 3x the size. That we have no credible transportation system is my only reservation about bringing it to a modern city scale.

    1. I was in Portland last weekend. Walkable, transit-friendly, bike-friendly. That’s how developers wanted the city to be. For a light rail system, MAX far exceeds anything close in SF. While the downtown stations are close in proximity, like those in the Market St. subway, as you venture out of the central core the stations are farther apart, unlike MUNI. To keep with its vision, most new developments do not have parking. Compare that with all the underground parking going in SOMA developments, even those within spitting distance of Caltrain, MUNI or BART.

      Developers and city officials have to want a walkable, transit-friendly city before they can create one. Exclaiming to the world that SF is a transit first city is just talk. Anyone with a brain and Clipper card knows otherwise.

      1. I share your admiration for things Portland, but a closer look at the trends and push-backs (NIMBYism is alive and well there, citywide density restrictions and parking requirements per household unit are still much more constraining there than in SF, and Portland still ranks low on the list of the top 25 per-capita transit ridership cities…) To be sure, Muni’s light rail does indeed exceed MAX on at least one metric: ridership.

        I’ve worked enough with planners there to know they’re rightfully proud of what they’ve accomplished, but they report the same “grass-is-greener” effect — that San Francisco conversely imparts on Portlanders who visit SF for a weekend.

      2. As a Portland native, I don’t know anyone there who would live without a car. Conversely, I’ve lived here car-free for the past 9 years and haven’t missed owning a car for a minute. My license has been expired since 2008 and I might not ever have it renewed. That would never be a viable option in Portland. The mass transit just isn’t as accessible or frequent there. Besides, they’re getting inundated with the same hipster clones as we are.

  8. Affordable housing in Pacific Heights means a one bedroom place starts at only a million dollars . . . That what happened in Corte Madera. The few homes that were put aside for affordable housing sold at $1.2 million. They were little tacky boxes too.

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