220 Battery Site

The owner of the little two-story office building at 220 Battery Street has engaged Winder Gibson Architects to design a modern three-story addition, with two urban townhomes, to rise over the existing Financial District structure.

220 Battery Rendering

As designed and recently submitted to Planning for review, the two proposed units would measure roughly 2,500 square feet apiece, not including the two private roof decks.

220 Battery Rendering: Roof Decks

And as we noted back in 2012 when the Battery Street building was being renovated and plans for a 7-Eleven to fill the retail space were in the works but never materialized, the 2,670-square-foot site is zoned for development up to 350-feet in height.

UPDATE: So, you think this site is simply too small for a tower?

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by sfdragonboy

    Uh, why would anyone really want to live relatively so low on that particular street with the car fumes and noise? No thanks.

    • Posted by Frisco

      Urban living is its own reward. Even if you don’t like it, many others do.

      • Posted by sfdragonboy

        Um, go visit that area please. It is essentially a direct shot to the freeway. So, always crowded. I get the allure of urban living but frankly if you asked anyone who knows anything they wouldn’t live here or on 19th Avenue even if you gave them a heck of a deal. A shortened lifespan from inhaling all that car fumes is simply not worth it.

        • Posted by Alai

          Considering that houses on 19th Ave and nearby are still selling for significant amounts of money, apparently people will live there if you give them a heck of a deal, or maybe even if you don’t.

    • Posted by Addy

      It’s not like all the houses along 19th ave or Guerrero are vacant.

      • Posted by sfdragonboy

        No, but at least on 19th Ave the homes are worth much less. Go figure…..

        • Posted by Dave

          19th Ave is a disaster. Owning one ot the tedious row homes there? I’d best most are rented out.

          I’m against not parking in the garage but if I lived on 19th I’d have to park at the curb as how else do you get out in the morning?

          As originally planned it may have worked but the traffic and the tedious row houses. This is what I mean by unattractive neighborhood.

          I don’t think there is an answer for 19th (short of an underground transit option which ain’t happening ever). Or tearing down the row houses and putting up intermittent 4 story townhouses/condos with open space and such. Keeping or slightly increasing density with a rear alleway not fronting on 19th for egress and such. That ain’t ever going to happen either.

          Off topic but as the poster started it I wanted to respond as 19th Ave is … is all that is wrong here.

          • Posted by Mark

            People forget that 19th Ave was widened decades ago with the addition of a lane in each direction. That’s why the homes there are so offputting.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            i would prefer an elevated freeway along 19th

          • Posted by Mark

            An elevated freeway? How 1950s of you. Clearly, you don’t live in the Sunset or Richmond.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            i live in the richmond, and I never take 19th because its a nightmare. its already a freeway. it might as well be a useful one, and elevating it would make it useful

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            An elevated freeway? Good lord why. What’s needed is a tunnel – ideally from Ocean or Sloat all the way to the north side of GG Park (with exits for Judah and Lincoln) – not unusual for any city (e.g., Paris, Boston, Chicago) – would take so much thru traffic off the surface, making the surface streets so much more local-, pedestrian-, and bike-friendly.

          • Posted by Matt in Uptown

            Car culture is dying and we don’t need to design any more road capacity. Look it up.

          • Posted by Jake

            There are more vehicles registered in SF than ever before, according to the CA DMV. USA VMT is at an all time high, according to the US Federal Highway Admin. The number of cars in operation worldwide is also at an all-time high. Look it up.

            From the August 20, 2015 FHWA news release: U.S. Driving Hits Historic High in Year’s First Half, American driving has doubled over last generation

            “New estimates released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving topped 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of 2015, beating the previous record – 1.5 trillion, set in June 2007. This is more than double the amount driven during the same period in 1981, continuing a trend of America’s driving mileage doubling nearly every generation.

            The new data, published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel, show that 275.13 billion miles were driven last June, the most ever in June of any year and the highest VMT for the first half of any year – reaffirming calls for increased investment in transportation infrastructure as demand on the nation’s highway system grows.

            According to FHWA’s Traffic Volume Trends report, the nation’s driving has increased for 16 months in a row.”

        • Posted by van nessident

          Just fill all the roads with exhaust fumes, and housing prices will decrease! We solved the housing crisis!

  2. Posted by AnonAnon

    Cool addition, but that roof deck will be covered in soot from car exhaust in no time.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme

      The soot comes from trucks and buses who use diesel. Regular cars are mostly gasoline, not diesel, therefore no soot.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Yup, and this is a major Golden Gate Transit route, so tons of diesel buses. But more generally, there’s a shite-ton of soot anywhere you go in the city – airplanes produce an amazing amount of it (maybe for them it’s not technically “soot”, but it’s dark sooty matter). We lived under the LAX approach path in Santa Monica (when the planes are still eastbound for the 180 turn to LAX), and it was amazing (and disgusting) the amount of dirty dusty soot that landed on everything.

  3. Posted by Dave

    Interesting. Zoned for up to 350 feet in height but the owner passing on that? I’m sure there is a reason but surprised a 20 story or so condo tower is not being built on the site.

  4. Posted by moto mayhem

    agree. they should tear it down and build a 30 story condo tower.

    • Posted by Dave

      I generally oppose expansion of the hi-rise zone, but have no problem with hi-rise infill in the traditional financial district.

      Virtually none of that is happening in recent years (there is that one “tower” being in-filled off Kearney near the BofA building but not much else).

      Don’t understand why this area is basically dead as to development. If one wants to build the Gang tower I expect there would be lots less opposition if it was in-filled in the old financial district. Not this site of course – its too small.

    • Posted by Sutro_Tower

      The elevator core, exit stairs and parking requirements for a 20 or 30 story tower do not work for a lot that small. That said, this is a great cost effective solution and use for an otherwise forgotten and underutilized building in the Financial District. There are sprinklings of similar one to two story buildings downtown that could stand to benefit from the same type of treatment.

      • Posted by Josh G

        I believe it is C-3-O, so there is no parking requirement. However, yes, I recall at least a few buildings in SF with much larger floor plates were not built to the max allowed height, because it wasn’t economical. In this case, the elevators, exit stairs and risers would take up much of the building.

  5. Posted by jenofla

    2500 seems like a pretty small footprint to support a 20-30 story building, esp with seismic considerations, but correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Posted by Tony

      They’re adding 3 stories to an existing 2 story building.

  6. Posted by Serge

    Much better than what is current there. Just wondering what’s with that barcode themed paint scheme?

  7. Posted by Elitist Pig

    And I didn’t think that little building could look worse than it already does. Looks like I was way off!

  8. Posted by Bob

    Right next to one of the finest open air toilets in the financial district.

  9. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    better buy some pigeon netting for that roof deck, and the next door buildings windows get blocked, (how much does that cost?)

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      Those are lot line windows…so that’s the next door building’s problem, not the applicant.

      • Posted by Dave

        Exactly. My thought when I saw the 3 floors of adjacent windows to be blocked was not legal issues, but those tenants won’t be happy and the price charged for those offices may take a bit of a hit.

  10. Posted by Hitman

    This is exactly what we need: zero affordable housing! I would rather under-develop than throw a bone to the career protesters.

  11. Posted by Dixon Hill

    Not a lot going on in the Financial District on nights or weekends. And close-by shopping is primarily directed to the weekday crowd. I’m guessing these will appeal to foreign nationals without imminent plans to spend a lot of time there.

  12. Posted by HousingWonk

    So when does the CEQA lawsuit start?

  13. Posted by j_blue

    An epochal under-utilization of the planning envelope. Build it right up to that allowable height please.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme

      Why would you force this on a developer. Heck he could built a SFH with an indoor pool for all I care. His property, his choice, as long as all the laws and rules are respected.

      • Posted by j_blue

        Obviously yes, his choice. But still under utilized – if my generation is to ever have a chance to own in the city of SF parcels like this so proximal to transit and amenities are going to need to yield more than two townhomes. Google Highcliff or the Summit – this is totally possible.

        • Posted by san FronziScheme

          Yes, but nobody owes you anything, just like the generation before me didn’t owe me anything. I started small then built and then was able to buy in SF thanks to 2 decades of hard work and sacrifice. Your turn to earn it. Millenials do not have it easy (student loans are not an easy way to start in life) but they’re also the generation that wants all the new iPhones, tablets, games and who seldom encountered a “no” from their gen-X parents.

          As a sidenote, America’s population growth is starting to slow down, which means that the demographic pressure overall is receding. And America is a pretty large country with many very livable and enjoyable areas. You can build your own ranch in Wyoming or Montana and even have horses for less than the price of a 600sf condo. Wanting to own in SF is a silly choice that comes with disappointment if you cannot really afford it.

  14. Posted by HousingWonk

    You aren’t getting a 30-stoy high rise on a 2,700 SF parcel. You just aren’t. That’s the size of a parcel for a MODEST size single family home. Let alone trying to fit a 30 story building there. Anything is better than nothing.

    I guess you could fit a 30-story elevator to nowhere on it…

    • Posted by Sutro_Tower

      Thank you. Just because you have the zoning doesn’t mean you have the space. And sometimes you have the zoning and the space but the math doesn’t pencil out

    • Posted by Brian M

      I imagine an Elon Musk rocket pack to access the condo units! Elevators are so 20th century! 🙂

    • Posted by Bay Guy

      Or….. perhaps a zip-line from any of the taller surrounding buildings? 🙂

    • Posted by Serge

      I know everyone is saying that it’s not possible on such a small footprint, but I have this to ask: it has been done before, what’s preventing it from being done today? I assume new building standards, but here’s an example:

      2238 Hyde St. — 15 stories tall, 17 units, sitting on a tiny 1,400SF parcel (25×56 according to the parcel map).

      Not only that, but it’s a gorgeous building.

      • Posted by Serge

        There is also 130 Bush St — 11 stories tall, office space, all on modest 1,600SF parcel. And again, another beautiful building.

  15. Posted by Bay Guy

    I’m not one to be in the spotlight for people looking down and seeing all that is going on. This one, I would NOT want to purchase.

  16. Posted by MoneyMan

    Actually, 19th Avenue should be below ground level, so that noise is reduced and cross roads can stay at ground level and not have to interact with the cars on 19th. 19th would essentially be a limited access freeway.

    • Posted by Dave

      In hindsight it should have been a tree-lined 3 lane boulevard like Sunset. I did not know it was originally one lane each way. Was there a median strip with trees in the day on 19th.

      At this point its seems impossible to retro-engineer it. The reason why many oppose up-zoning Noriega and Taraval is traffic. Imagine what happens to 19th if the housing density it doubled or tripled along both those streets.

      • Posted by Serge

        19th was widened by removing sidewalk space (it used to have extremely wide sidewalks). Given the current configuration, I can’t see how it would be possible to make it like Sunset Blvd– there just isn’t that much room. If anything it should be a tunnel, but that’s much too cost prohibitive. Perhaps limit the number of streets that cross it? A signalized intersection at every block is simply not necessary. Cars and drive an extra block and I am sure pedestrians can walk a little more.

        • Posted by Dave

          Practically it can’t be done. Retro-engineering is impossible.

          I’ll have to try to find photos on how it looked with wider sidewalks.

          The impossible answer, but the best answer. The City buy the homes along 19th. Fair price. Eminent domain. Tear them down and widen 19th to 3 lanes each way while putting a planted median strip and shoulder. A la Sunset. A pipedream.

          It is what it is but it should not be worsened by any significant up-zoning of Noriega or Taraval. That would be a disaster for 19th and Sloat and Sunset. IMO.

          • Posted by Alai

            Somehow, the “best answer”, as always, involves eliminating a bunch of people.

  17. Posted by Bleeper

    It’s unfortunate that SF does not allow the air rights of parcels like this to be sold. It can never be built to 350′ so why have the parcel have that limit

  18. Posted by Amewsed

    This is an interesting development since I used to work across the street years ago. I wished they had residential back then since it would have been a great place to catch some zzzzzs if working late.

  19. Posted by Sandy Rivers

    Wow, the building actually looks really awesome! I love the roof patio that it has on top of the building, I’d love a pool or something up there. I’ve been thinking of moving down here, when do they expect to have something like this finished?

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