Over a century ago, the intersection of Market, Valencia, Haight and Gough in San Francisco was dubbed “The Hub.” At the time, four main streetcar lines converged at the intersection, transporting residents from outlying neighborhoods to jobs and shopping downtown. And through the 1950s, the moniker was synonymous with the surrounding neighborhood as well.
Wrapped into the City’s Market and Octavia Plan which was adopted in 2008, the area was envisioned to become a “vibrant new mixed-use neighborhood,” with new transit-oriented residential towers rising up to 400 feet in height and 3,700 units of housing around the intersections of Market and Van Ness Avenue and Van Ness and Mission.
But a sharp drop in the market from 2008 through 2011 waylaid nearly every development plan.
Over the past four years, the number of employed residents in San Francisco has grown by 68,000, the local housing market has (mostly) recovered, and the underdeveloped Hub has been receiving “concentrated attention” from the development community.
And as such, the City is about to formally launch the Market Street Hub Project, “to capitalize on current opportunities and analyze the potential for zoning and policy refinements that will better ensure that the area’s growth supports the City’s goals for housing, transportation, the public realm, and the arts,” the first public workshop for which will be held on April 13 with a specific focus on land use, urban form and public benefits.
Potential zoning changes include height and bulk increases for developers in exchange for increasing the number of “affordable” housing units to be built, changes which could add the potential for another 600 units of housing. And in terms of policy refinements, a further reduction in allowable parking to around .3 spaces per unit and a program to incentivize non-profits and culture organizations are on the boards.
In addition, the Hub project will attempt to “advance public realm concepts from the Market and Octavia Area Plan, including conceptual designs for key public spaces and streets,” will evaluate how adjustments to height limits “ensure that the skyline is more pleasingly sculpted to enhance the overall urban form of the city,” and collaborate with SFMTA “to support and coordinate development with current transit proposals and projects,” such as the Van Ness BRT and Better Market Street plans.