Challenged Market Street Project Slated for ApprovalNovember 4, 2016
The Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA) has challenged the plans for the proposed six-story building to rise at 2201 Market Street, at the intersection of Sanchez, a development which would yield 14 market rate condos over a ground floor commercial space and an underground garage, accessed via an elevator, for six cars.
The four issues raised by the DTNA in their request for a Discretionary Review (DR):
Issue #1: The DR Requestor is concerned the design of the ground floor at Market and Sanchez Streets could potentially become an area that would attract transients seeking covered shelter, and requests that the corner be fully enclosed without the proposed column element.
Issue #2: The DR Requestor is concerned the Project would not provide on-site inclusionary units but instead satisfies this requirement through the payment of in-lieu fees, and proposes the Project be required to provide the two affordable units on-site.
Issue #3: The DR Requestor is concerned about the visibility of the two proposed stair penthouses and requests that they be incorporated into the envelope of the building through roof hatches or waterproofed exterior stairwells.
Issue #4: The DR Requestor is concerned with the desirability of the proposed single storefront at the ground floor and would like the commercial space to be divided into at least two separate units.
The development team’s responses:
Issue #1 Response: The design of the Project has been thoroughly vetted with Planning Department staff and undergone extensive review by the department Urban Design Advisory Team. Based on comments received, the corner column element was exposed to create interest along the streetscape and to mirror similar exposed elements within the Upper Market Neighborhood. The exposed column reduces the bulk and massing of the ground floor and is an interesting design feature of the Project. As the Project will be including ground floor retail, it will be active with pedestrians visiting the store as well as with residents of the units above walking along the street front and in this area thereby reducing the likelihood of transient occupation of the space created. The Project has proposed a high-quality design, including an aesthetically pleasing and active ground floor and enclosing the column element is not warranted as it will create dead space within the ground floor that is unlikely to be active given its limited dimensions.
Issue #2 Response: The original plans for 2201 Market Street that were submitted two years ago included nine large family sized units, given the site constraints of the parcel. However, the Sponsor was strongly encouraged to increase the unit count in order to provide below market rate (BMR) units. In response to this request, the Project is proposing fourteen units. While the intent was to provide on-site inclusionary units, as noted by the Planning Commission during their discussion of the 2600 Harrison Street project on August 11, 2016, providing on-site affordable units on small projects is not financially feasible. This became evident as the Project moved forward with construction level drawings, began obtaining estimates for construction costs, and began to seek financing. Based on this additional information it was determined that it is financially infeasible to provide on-site BMR units. Unlike large projects, small projects lack the economies of scale to distribute the cost of these affordable units across market rate units, which is why most small projects elect to pay the in-lieu fee. To require the Project to provide onsite affordable housing would render the Project infeasible.
Issue #3 Response: The Project is required to provide two stair egresses and an elevator to the roof for life safety requirements. Because the roof is an exposed area subject to inclement weather, all three egress points are enclosed. The design of the enclosures has been minimized and meets the minimum dimensions required under the Planning, Building and Fire Code. Contrary to the request in the DR, a roof hatch is not feasible or permitted under current code. An exposed exterior stairwell is possible but creates unique and unnecessary maintenance issues because of potential water intrusion when all new construction is carefully designed and built to minimize areas that can be exposed to water. Water intrusion is very expensive to repair and can cause structural damage to buildings. The Project’s location at the corner of an exposed area adjacent to a wide street has the potential to be exposed to significant weather events.
For these reasons, exposed stairwells, while permitted, are not proposed nor are they standard because of the ongoing maintenance and large liability potential.
Issue #4 Response: The Project proposes one retail space at the ground floor because of the unique dimensions and constraints of the small triangular shaped lot that also slopes along both Market Street and back to Sanchez Street. Dividing the ground floor retail into two spaces will require extensive additional modifications to the building to allow separate entries, back of house facilities and utilities for each space. Providing these separate features reduces the size of the retail spaces provided as well as significantly increasing the cost of construction. During the design review process, the Sponsor has agreed to design and construct the ground floor in a manner that could potentially accommodate two retail spaces. The Sponsor has agreed to this as part of the Project for many months, but cannot agree to show the ground floor as two separate retail spaces. This not only precludes the potential for one large tenant to occupy the space, but would impose an unfair and inordinate burden on the Project Sponsor that has not been imposed on other similar surrounding developments. There is nothing extraordinary or exceptional related to the ground floor retail in this location that warrants two retail spaces as opposed to one.
And the Planning Department’s recommendation to the Planning Commission which will hear the case next week: Approve the project as proposed.
The paperwork to secure the demolition and building permits for the 2201 Market Street project have already been filed. And if approved, the project could be completed within 14 months of breaking ground.
Concept redevelopment plans for the Market Street parcel have been in the works since 2013 following Starbucks’ failed bid to renovate and occupy the existing retail space on the corner.
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
Good, *finally* some appropriate use to be made of this corner. Incredible to me that any random complainant can protest and delay a project based on purported ‘issues’, unrelated to zoning violations. ‘I feel it should be 2 shops instead of 1′. What an incredible level of entitlement, how is that choice anyone’s business but the developer’s?!’ Agh
[Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that the retail vacancy rate in the Castro and Upper Market has been a real concern.]
“[…] how is that choice anyone’s business but the developer’s?!”
It impacts the quality of life of everyone in the neighborhood, so it is everyone’s business, not just the developers’.
Plus, this is a commercial street. A request for the commercial space that is included to be designed so that it is more likely to actually be occupied by a commercial tenant rather than sitting vacant is a perfectly appropriate subject for input from the public.
They have an interest but it should not be a controlling interest and their demands for modification should be strongly backed with facts and expert opinion. In what is offered here, their is nothing more than their unsupported opinion that 2 smaller retail spaces is better than one large one. And why is that? No one is saying but I can guess: They fear a chain store wanting to occupy a larger space. The horror!
Smaller retail footprints are better for the existing residents and businesses in walking neighborhoods for many reasons.
For starters, big storefronts are likely to become medical offices or H&R Blocks, with dark glass streetfronts, making the streets less visually appealing and more dangerous for walking. Why do you want to make our neighborhoods ugly and more dangerous?
There is a glut of large retail footprints on the market but a dearth of smaller footprints. Adding smaller retail footprints would help ease rental pressure on those units, making it easier for local small businesses and entrepreneurs to get started. Why are you against helping local small businesses and entrepreneurs get started?
Small, diverse storefronts make neighborhoods more visually-appealing, walkable, and safe. This increases the value of nearby, hard-working homeowners’ property. Why do you want to depress the values of hard-working homeowners’ property?
Adding additional small businesses increases the municipal tax base, benefiting our local families, schools, children, and parks. Why are you against local families, schools, children, and parks?
Adding smaller retail footprints increases the variety of services and retail goods available in neighborhoods. Having to drive to reach distant goods and services contributes to global climate change, which may end life as we know it. Why do you want to end life as we know it?
Having to drive further to get goods and services might not be an issue for well-to-do singles, but it is an increased burden on working parents. Why do you want to make life more difficult for working parents?
Bigger footprints are better for developers (they’re cheaper to build), chain stores, medical offices, gyms, H&R Blocks, and chain stores. Smaller footprints are better for everyone else, especially for people who live and/or work in the neighborhood.
Actually, what is better for people living in the neighborhood is NOT having empty commercial spaces. You admit there is a glut of commercial spaces, so why require 2 more spaces? And, they are not empty because they are too large, most are physically ideal for all the small businesses you claim would serve “working parents.” They are empty because there are simply not enough businesses that need the spaces. There are only so many hair salons, bars, restaurants, and over-priced clothing boutiques that any one neighborhood can bare, even an affluent one. All the city regulations ostensibly in place to promote “local, neighborhood-serving businesses” have created neighborhood districts that are virtually carbon copies of each other, and certainly not districts catering to “working parents” (unless these parents spend every day getting their hair done and going out each night for a fancy meal).
The city requires developers to build unnecessary commercial spaces on the ground floor of buildings when there should be no requirement at all. A lobby is perfectly acceptable, and if the city is going to force developers to build unnecessary spaces then the developer should at least be able to build one it has the best chance of leasing out, not what some busy-body would prefer.
This block of Market has been losing small retailers because of yuge rent increases while the influx of new residents has not been reflected in additional business. Urban Eyes is moving soon and Michael Bruno will close at the end of the year after over 30 years of the finest service. Lou will be missed, but not forgotten.
The brave new Castro is more and more a bedroom community for the CBD, the corp buzz fleet, and Amazon delivery. At least they got a Whole Foods. What could say an SF neighborhood has finally arrived more than a WF? World class sitty.
The reality is Americans are changing the way they shop to the detriment of brick and mortar – whether large or small, locally owned or a chain. That shift in the retail model won’t be turned back but will continue with perhaps drone delivery and maybe even 3D printing shaking things up further.
Much of the new retail space in the SOMA developments is empty – despite a captive base of upscale residents nearby – which base is proving to perhaps not be so captive.
Old shopping areas like Taraval are not escaping this trend. There are many empty stores on Taraval which has historically been a home to small locally owned businesses.
There are only so many candle shops the market can sustain. The lesson there is that candle shops went the way of the dinosaur a few decades back and hardware stores, less one gets a legacy business subsidy or goes co-op, will too. Hardware stores being one of the more obvious examples.
The code should be changed to adjust to the new retail model/reality. It is not a choice between retail or a lobby in every case. Why not residential. “Townhomes” with stoops at street level. The Van Ness development of the old KRON building is doing exactly this.
Retail ecommerce growth is ~20-year-old news. (first they came for the computer, book, and music stores; and I said nothing because of the discounts and sales tax dodges…)
Steep rent increases driving these retailers away from this block is the new news and the current real-(estate)-ality.
The other old news reality is Dave is wrongheaded again, and yes, nearly everyone could have predicted. The vacancy dear Dave lies not in our store fronts, but in our comprehension.
Retail vacancy rates in SF are at “the lowest since records have been kept”, according to Cushman’s Retail Snapshot 2Q 2016: “Retail space remains in strong demand across San Francisco. This has pushed the overall vacancy rate citywide to the lowest figures of at least the past ten years, closing the second quarter at 1.7%. YoY, vacancy has dropped 10 basis points (BPS) from 1.8%. Over the past quarter, the vacancy rate has dropped 20 BPS from 1.9%.”
Must be the fault of the planning codes, too much residential, not enough retail. Or perhaps just too much wealth, not enough recession. Maybe a few brave electors from the NW can save us from a future of growing economic prosperity and their attendant RE prices. I will light a candle for hope.
Fans of reading comprehension everywhere will have noticed I said, “There is a glut of large retail footprints on the market but a dearth of smaller footprints.”
Do you know the difference between a glut and a dearth?
San Francisco neighborhoods have a rich history of distinctness. The homogenization (“virtually carbon copies of each other”) you apparently desire will be accelerated by increasing retail footprints or by eliminating retail altogether.
two beers – do you have some data that shows the glut of large spaces and dearth of small? I’d love it if that were true, but I’m skeptical based on the units that I see vacant all over the city (especially in the outer neighborhoods).
The solution for high retail vacancy in a district is to eliminate the requirement for ground floor retail in new projects. Not centralized government meddling into the market via a prescriptive zoning code.
Anon, you must not be one of the fans of reading comprehension, or you would have read early on in my post that I disagreed with your phony and unsupported claim that somehow the current available spaces are too big for your typical small business.
Most commercial spaces available for rent in most commercial districts in SF are the same size they have been for decades, and some are even smaller as they were carved out of larger commercial spaces that once held grocery stores and other larger tenants. Yet, they still stand empty.
Shopping habits have changed, and many things people would have once gone to a store to buy can now be delivered, often the same day, from an online realtor such as Amazon. In my own residential building, our lobby is filled each day with packages from Amazon and other online realtors, and most people also have their groceries delivered. So, the only reason most people go to a neighborhood retail space is to (1) buy coffe/tea, (2) buy pastries/sweets, (3) buy alcohol, (4) get their hair done, (5) go out to eat, (6) go to a bar/nightclub, (7) go to the gym, (8) buy a gift or pick up a random item, (9) buy custom or trendy clothes they want to try on first. Yes, people some people still go “big” grocery shopping, and we all need a pharmacy, and most neighborhoods have one or two large chain stores (including the Castro) that fill this need.
But, despite being a wealthy city, most people still do not eat out every single night, so once you have a a few coffee shops, a few restaurants, a few bars, a few salons, a few fancy boutiques, and perhaps one hardware store and one gift shop, along with the obligatory chain grocery and drugstore, this is all you need.
There is no dearth of small retail space because there is NO demand for it. There is no small business that would by supported in any neighborhood that is unable to open because it cannot find a small enough space to rent.
There is a GLUT of retail space. Landlords rent out to the fancy salons (almost every one located in the very small spaces you claim are in short supply), the fancy boutiques (again, filling the small spaces you claim are needs), and the bars and restaurants and then the rest of the SAME small sized spaces sit empty because no one wants them.
When the city forces a developer to offer commercial space, the best the developer can hope for is to build an attractive, large windowed space that might appeal to a restaurant or gym (and the gyms are usually chains). My own building has a gym that none of the residents like or wanted, but our street was not desirable for a new restaurant (there were already too many) and that is all the developer could find to fill the space. Meanwhile, around the corner, a few “mom-and-pop” commercial tenants in somewhat smaller spaces struggle to stay open, not because of rent hikes (they have not had them) but because of a lack of business, as they face stiff competition from other locally-owned, but newer and more glamourous restaurants, bars, and trendy boutiques. The last thing these businesses need is yet more of the same (of course, all the city regulations, fees, and taxes don’t help much either).
Yes, glad to see Planning has developed some backbone against delayer/meddler pseudo-neighborhood groups like DTNA. That parcel can’t be redeveloped fast enough. And I didn’t agree with any of DTNA’s complaints — though I am a resident of Duboce Triangle. The whole DR process is rife with abuse and Nimby’s like to abuse it. Let’s hope the BoS follow their own staff’s expert advice here…
Totally agree. Good comments!
FYI, Commissioner Richards was a member of DTNA. I believe that he was the Board President. I would guess that he would recuse himself from this agenda item.
I do sympathize with one of the complaints, although I think it is largely a building code issue. And that is of projections of stairwells above the top story of the building. Perspectives are always drawn to hide these ugly projections, but there are many cases they are very visible from the street and are, indeed, butt ugly. Here is one that is particularly bad just across the street (which appears to have air conditioning equipment on top of it?)
I guess you could add some sculptural element to them, but at the end of the day, a stairwell is a stairwell.
Most pedestrians keep their eyes in front of them, not scanning building rooftops looking for “ugly” architectural elements.
I say make them as unobtrusive as possible while still making them safe and up to code, and then call it a day. There are far, far more important things to worry about.
That projection holds cell towers that serve a valuable purpose for the community. They also provide revenue to the building keeping costs down. BTW. I like how “No turns” text on the street sign is blurred out. 🙂
but otherwise…I meant to add. Build it!
What a bunch of pure crap by the DR requestor. Simply not credible. His/her comments represent the worst of this inane DR process.
This is a handsome, modern, well-scaled infill project. Looking forward to it being built as soon as possible.
Aesthetically challenged, certainly. In great cities they take these corners and install beautiful little public parks that close at night but during the day provide a place to sit and watch the world go by. That also preserves sight lines so that people can look up and see past the immediate architecture. But not here. Here we are infilling every last spot like a cancer. Just to make a buck. And we all know that the only people who aren’t aghast at all of it are sold-out politicos, lobbyists for out of town mega-developers and the building tradespersons in the enormous pickup trump trucks from Texas.
Great cities build on their block corners (square, triangle, trapezoid) because it strengthens the urban fabric. When parks and plazas are surrounded by buildings, they face with their front facade instead of windowless sides never intended to be seen. Not that an odd slice as a park isn’t appreciated here and there. It’s just not how to base a “great” city’s open space by.
Parochial paranoia at its most San Franciscan.
Your statements are completely false and without merit.
The great cities build at their corners to define urban street edges.
Plus the Texas comment is off the mark and untrue. Many in the trades here are SF or Pennisula natives
Take what corners?
I have been too several cities all over the world, Paris, Madrid, New York, Chicago, Beunos Aires, etc. It is quite, quite common to have a building on the corner of a busy commercial intersection. And, historically, there has always been a building on this intersection.
I am not sure understand all your blather about dump-trucks and Texas.
Get outside and get some fresh air, and see a little of the world while you are at it.
Just what we need–yet another plaza for homeless and druggies to defecate and shoot up in.
I agree, enclose it. It would maximize commercial square footage first and most important.
Is DTNA really concerned about inclusionary BMR units? If they are really worried about low income housing, 14 off-site units should sound better than 2 on-site ones. It seems they are just throwing a kitchen sink.
The total fee to be paid by the project team, in lieu of including two below market rate units onsite, is $904,289. We’ll let you argue the relative economics and how many new units that will actually fund. But here’s a point of reference.
Here’s another point of reference ($480K/unit).
Keep in mind that point of reference doesn’t account for the cost of the land.
they are throwing their weight around in hope of establishing themselves as the grassroot power to deal with for future developments, but they are doing it spectacularly wrong: picking all the wrong fights, which ultimately will relegate them to irrelevance, exactly the opposite of their intent
Money that goes into the in-lieu fund ends up building housing in the Tenderloin or the Bayview or similar. DTNA wants to preserve diversity of incomes in their own neighborhood, rather than becoming a rich enclave. Such a position is admirable.
I enjoy seeing the complaints and responses presented like this. It’s an interesting insight into the process.
it is south of market street, not even in Duboce triangle, why are they complaining?
Well, on the south side of Market Street, but yeah, not exactly within Duboce neighborhood.
It is right in the middle of the “hypotenuse” of the duboce triangle. Well within the DTNA purview to weigh in on this.
How on earth do you think up four complaints about this building yet “it’s ridiculously small and underbuilt” is none of them? This is the main street of our city. We should be thinking a lot bigger than six stories here.
Are you for real? Do you think a neighborhood group that would prefer NOTHING get built would actually argue for the site to be upzoned?
Also, the developer is building what is allowed under the zoning and feasible given the strong neighborhood opposition.
Yes, I’m for real and I know this is the zoning, but zoning plans are made by humans and we can change them if they’re short-sighted and inappropriate, which this one certainly is.
Agree it should be 3-4 floors higher, and there will be homeless in that open area
It’s ironic that an association with the word ‘Triangle’ in its name would protest this building.
Why does it need any parking at all?
And why is it such a godawful design? The concept is fairly good, but the current execution sucks.
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