Plans to Raze Prominent Rincon Hill Gas Station ProgressNovember 12, 2015
The official application to raze the Union 76 gas station on the northwest corner of First and Harrison and build a 14-story building, with 180 apartments over a garage for 84 cars and a small 600-square-foot café has been submitted to Planning for review.
From the development team for the project which would prominently sit “at a key intersection in the rapidly redeveloping Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco”:
“Most of the building faces the wider, prominent First and Harrison Streets, a zone allowing taller height. The Lansing Street frontage faces the narrow pedestrian/auto “shared street,” with a smaller scale residential focus.
The proposed building expresses these two zones with a light glassy 14 story tower element at First Street, and a stepped 5 to 7 story podium fronting Lansing, Harrison and First Streets. The base element employs projecting bay windows, balconies, and private stoops to further scale the building in a manner sympathetic to traditional San Francisco residential architecture.”
In addition to the apartments and corner cafe, the plans for the building includes multiple roof decks with views of downtown, the Bay, and Bay Bridge.
And as proposed, the 180 apartments would be a mix of 16 micro units, 34 studios, 58 one-bedrooms, 61 two-bedrooms, and 11 three-bedrooms.
A meeting with neighbors to unveil the plans above is scheduled for next week.
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
Why so short?
Does anyone know what the constructions hours are ? Mon- Friday 7-5 or is this lovely project occurring Saturday as well. I live at the Jasper facing the gas station so would be helpful if anyone knows
In what fantasy universe does this rendering exist? Are the landscaped medians part of the proposal? What about the plaza in what is currently a driveway on a slope?
Oh, you think rendering should be based on “facts” and “reality” now? Please…
Huh? The whole point of a rendering is to show something that does not exist but that could be put in.
Right, renderings should show a utopian vision of San Francisco. It isn’t about what is actually there or how the real project might look, it’s about building a fantasy of what could be there if reality and budget weren’t an issue. In my opinion, they didn’t go far enough, they should show a Muni line and remove some of the adjacent buildings in favor of lush parks that have no homeless people.
You could argue this about every single detail of the project. The pitch supposed to imply best case scenario.
Also worth noting, that 38 Dolores (Dolores & Market) spent a decent amount of money upgrading the streetscape surrounding the project—much like you see in the renderings here. It’s not uncommon for developers to shell out some extra money for landscaping, pedestrian improvements, etc.
The point of a rendering is (or should be) to let planner and the public see how the project will be – not present some fantasy. Anyone can make a pretty drawing, but if planners (and, in this goddess-forsaken city, the voters) are to understand and assess a project, it needs to be based on real-world data.
Haven’t we learned by now on SS that the majority of renderings get value engineered?
BTW – those landscaped medians crack me up!
The best part is showing only four cars in the whole drawing.
Yes, this corner is at the onramp to I-80. I’ve never seen it not full of cars, but maybe that’s because of the perpetual clusterf*ck caused by the construction next door. I know renderings can be idealistic, but they should at least be consistent. In a world where there are this few cars at this intersection there should also be zombies wandering the landscaped medians.
“Why so short?”
I would actually prefer if the rest of the recent developments on the hill were closer to this in scale (~150ft). 30-45 stories in this area seems a wee bit obnoxious being on a 100+ ft tall hill.
Though, I’m pretty sure the reason it can’t be taller is that zoning dictates that towers over a certain height have to be so many feet apart. I imagine this lower height avoids having to comply.
[Editor’s Note: That’s correct. See Rincon Hill Tower Redesigned With Five More Floors re: required tower spacing.]
The rendering of median strips that are not there and may never be aside, I like the design.
The black façade on the lower portion is a change from the usual and contrasts nicely with the glass façade at the top of the building. The roofline is staggered at several points which is nice. The use of private stoops on the Lansing side of the building is good to see. Plus multiple roof decks and balconies. Nice amenities for an apartment project.
As to height, IMO 15 – 20 stories is perfect for SF. I’m glad they did not go taller for whatever the reason. It may be that it was zoned for this height to begin with. The existing building down the hill from this looks like 5 or 6 stories. I’d be curious what it is zoned for in terms of height. I suspect the area is starting to run out of sites zoned for 30 or more stories. Socketsite (think I saw it here) had a map of this area a while back showing height limits and a lot of the parcels between Market and Rincon Hill were zoned for 120 feet or 180 feet.
Having just spent time in D.C., I have to agree (IMHO, obviously – not trying to bludgeon others) that +/- 15 stories creates a more human scale than do tall towers.
Short cities for wealthy people.
Not entirely fair. Tall buildings are expensive to engineer. The tall buildings being built in SF recently are ALL certainly for wealthy people only.
Agreed. Sunlight hits the street in D.C. And you don’t get the crazy winds like you do in Financial District / SOMA.
DC has done a better job building a nicer physical environment – but the tradeoff is is SF has nicer people.
True and false. NYC has nicer people than either SF or DC (having lived in all 3).
DC has height restrictions which are currently under review because developers would like to see denser and higher developments. As for winds, SF is surrounded by water on 3 sides, has dozens of hills and when the onshore winds kick up up it’s windy no matter where you are. However, there are some problem areas that you can blame on buildings, like the Montgomery St. wind tunnel. Regardless, from May-October the swamp that DC is in becomes an oppressive, humid, Code Red air quality cesspool.
SF has “indifferent” people. In no way by most people’s standards would SF people be considered friendly or nice. The degree of standoffishness is noticeable.
Even so, given that DC is the capital of the military empire and full of lawyers, consultants, lobbyists, politicians, and especially War Pigs…I would agree that as twee and ephemeral as the SF economy is, at least it is not the home of the Pentagon.
Are we seriously using “winds” as a reason to prevent development now? Are the NIMBYs that desperate?
Love it! Perfect for its location.
And yet still no restaurants, cafes, etc, in the area (Aside from Local). Meh. Zoning should require ground floor retail.
“a 14-story building, with 180 apartments…and a small 600-square-foot café” – reading is knowledge.
Snarky. I like that. However, in this case the corner café will probably close by 3pm, like many other places in the area.
Good or bad, SF will never be a 24/7 city. Accept it and move on.
Someone needs to re-open The Fremont House. That place could be a gold mine.
I wonder how much Rincon Hill development it will take to make it a little livelier in the evenings. That whole corner of SoMa is deserted after 7 PM.
No amount of the current kind of development will help, because it’s the wrong kind. They’d have to stop everything right now, cancel every pipeline project, and build public space non-stop for a decade before Rincon Hill was worth visiting. The entire place is designed as silicon valley drone storage, not as a place for humans to live satisfying lives.
The development helped kill some of the liveliness. There used to be live shows at Maritime Hall across the street from this parcel. In the late 1990s new nearby residents complained. (Notorious) SFPD Southern Station Capt Dennis Martel was already on a cleanup/shutdown campaign of clubs and venues and he targeted Maritime Hall.
Maritime Hall was shut down because Sailors Union does not have an elevator and thus could not meet ADA accessibility laws for a public assembly space. Some cool event bills from Maritime Hall are here.
I agree the lack of parks is a major detriment to activating area. Lack of neighborhood serving businesses is a problem in Rincon and Mission Bay, though it seems likely rents are just too high or spaces for retail just too big. Most successful groundfloor retail is at 25 Essex supportive housing building where all 3 groundfloor retail spaces were leased and operable practicalky right after building opened March 2014.
I don’t see the link to public space… Hells Kitchen and Greenwich Village in NYC are both fairly low-rise (by NYC standards) areas with no notable open space, yet both are positively hopping with sidewalk traffic and retail.
The shows stopped at Maritime Hall when they raised the rent beyond what the promoter was willing/able to pay. And before that the SFPD did try to suspend their licenses in part fueled by NIMBY complaints from the new dotcom era residents. A little history for those who care.
A light and glassy design to see…this?
The median strips already exist but are simply painted on the pavement. Converting them to a raised curb with trees and landscaping shouldn’t require any road reconfiguration.
What would be nicer is giving people in those highrises some bike lanes. They are surrounded by car filled streets. This might take away some parking, but given that the whole area is pretty much a parking lot at rush hour, we’re not really removing that many spaces. 🙂
Add bike lanes to the Bay Bridge on-ramp?
I love how the “correct” thinking San Francisco solution to Rincon Hill traffic is to remove more driver lanes, and remove more parking.
Homeless in Golden Gate park, remove the cars. Retail booming on Chestnut Street…remove the cars. Whatever the issue, for some automobiles are the cause of every problem.
How about buildimg more transit or synchronizing traffic signals during rush hour? Do you REALLY think a bike lane is going to help someone driving home to Blackhawk?
couldn’t agree more
Decisions for SF’s automobile policies should benefit the community, not commuters.
Are we supposed to feel sorry for someone “driving home to Blackhawk”?
This bridge onramp merges into a single lane of bay bridge and at rush hour all lanes are stop and go… with more stop than go… Since bridge doesn’t have capacity for all the lanes feeding the onramp, removing one lane of traffic feeding this onramp will not affect traffic.
Think of it this way… if a 4-lane highway shrinks to a 2 lane highway, is the traffic really delayed if the 2-lane portion started 1000 feet earlier?
You are misunderstanding the function of those lanes on 1st St during the PM commute. They store the cars in a queue to get on the bridge. While it is true that the queue feeds a single lane on the bridge, the queue itself backs up 2-3 lanes wide all they way to north of Market during the PM commute. Narrowing the queue by removing lanes near the onramp merely lengthens the queue shifting more of the vehicle storage into the FiDi.
FWIW, the old overhead ramps that were removed used to provide that storage. This onstreet SoMa congestion is a price we pay for removing the Embarcadero Fwy. It was predicted in the Caltrans studies of alternatives after the 1989 quake. SF choose to remove the ramps/fwy and accept the surface street congestion. This is the plan. Same with increasing congestion in western SoMa by removing the Central fwy north of Market.
BTW, according to the traffic studies the best way to increase traffic flow eastbound on the bridge in the PM commute is to close the Sterling onramp so the traffic isn’t pinched from both sides. Might increase peak throughput 5-10%.
Re: the shrinkage, what Jake said. Would just push the crush further north (where, incidentally, it would then also interfere a lot more with thru traffic on Howard and Mission).
Interesting re: the Sterling onramp, as a lay person I’ve often thought the same thing – with traffic merging from both sides in such a short span, it’s inevitable that drivers on 80 react by slowing down / braking, thereby causing further backups.
@Jake, interesting about Sterling. I would think doing that would just back things up farther back on streets like Bryant, Brannan, Folsom, 2nd (northbound from King through to Folsom), and possibly King itself. Not so?
At least Beale from Market south, Bryant westbound from the Embarcadero and Main southbound from Market would be relatively clear – I think.
Sterling is HOV during the PM commute. The scheme I’ve seen modeled was to close Sterling and make the 1st St onramp HOV only during PM commute, which put all the non-HOV on the Essex and 5th onramps. Most of the increased backup would be on Essex and 5th. Non-HOV drivers would suffer the most.
Unlike the approved closure of a traffic lane on 2nd St, closing Sterling would increase the bridge throughput. With fewer queues better aligned for traffic flow, the queues would be deeper but move faster. Total queue wait time would be reduced. The backups on 80 eastbound leading to Rincon would also be reduced.
In the grand flow of traffic, it would be a modest gain, but it is just about the only easy thing available. The next step would be more drastic like a contraflow lane on the upper deck during the PM commute. Or we might even go crazy and make all commuters to the CBD pay to park.
Harrison doesn’t have a median, painted or otherwise. And 1st only has them for the road fronting this parcel, not north of Lansing as shown in this rendering.
The pair of painted medians on 1st divides the bridge only traffic in the center lanes from the non-bridge traffic. If they put in raised medians a block long, then the drivers would have to be in the correct lanes well in advance of Harrison without much chance to correct on approach. Probably make for some fun illegal lane changes/turns in the intersection itself. Given how cheerful and gracious most of the drivers are after crawling along 1st st during the PM commute, that should go smoothly. Not gonna happen.
FWIW, the pair of Harrision onramps to the bridge are the busiest in SF and all the SFMTA, MTC, and Bridge Authority planning is to keep them that way. And where they merge onto the bridge is the most congested road location in the Bay Area.
This idea of merely painting on solutions rather than actually building them could prove interesting…
classy. Build it asap.
honestly, as someone who lives in the area, Rincon Hill is a complete cluster disaster. Walkable score 0, conditions of the street 0, number of car break ins nightly 50%, daily honking, road rage aggression starting at 3pm 100%. Other than that, it’s wonderful.
build it as long as baybay can afford to move into it, and is mandated to live there for at least 5 years on site, not as a pied a terre…..
The building looks great, though I doubt anyone is ever going to use a roof deck right above all that honking and freeway noise.
jwb says the Rincon Hill projects in the pipeline need to be stopped and park built.
Sadly, that is not going to happen. Way too late now.
The lack of a neighborhood emerging her should not be a surprise. No green space/parks as jwb notes. Except for the private walled off areas for residents.
If one lives in these building there is often a pool, workout area and more. No need to venture on the windy streets outside devoid of life. That was the mistake in not thinking this out. It is being played out again, IMO, at Market/Van ness. A neighborhood is not going to emerge there any more than it has here. For the same reasons.
One way to fix this going forward is to restrict the building’ s footprint Requiring open space, public open space. In the project, For instance the Jasper next door to this project should have been required to assemble a larger parcel. Buy the gas station and turn that corner into public space.
In terms of street life and a sense of neighborhood Rincon Hill is sadly, IMO, a lost cause at this point.
Right… more shrubbery, please!
Exactly (saying that TIC as you are a more concrete, paved in type person I take, fairly rare breed but that is OK) – why do you think the developers are showing so much “shrubbery” in their proposal? Hello. Think about it. That green, nature appeal is universal. Indeed a selling point. Even to those of us who live in urban areas.
Yes, I can only imagine how delightful it would be to lounge in some public space at the corner of 1st and Harrison. So serene and tranquil.
Indeed. The real problem is that the whole area is a freeway onramp.
1st street needs to be tunneled from Bush connecting to the Bay Bridge. This neighborhood is so depressing with all the constant traffic and honking.
LOL! That is why there is no street life. Residents stay in their safe, quiet enclaves. Basically walled off mini-citiies from the Infinity to Rincon Hill. No need to venture onto the street.
Who needs gas anyways?
And who needs anything more than condo and office towers? As long as there’s a Starbucks or salad chain store in the ground floor retail, they’ll survive the cultural wasteland. I’m glad this is all so well thought out.
what a great addition to the neighborhood.
most cars will be electric in 30 years anyways.
So much green on this rendering. In addition to the “will-it-ever-happen” median greenery, most residents in this glas box have green carpet.
What makes a hideous 76 station “prominent?”
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