In addition to the plans for an eight-story building to rise on the southeast corner of (999) Folsom and Sixth, there are three other developments in the works for the east side of Sixth Street, between Folsom and Harrison: 345 6th Street, 363 6th Street and 377 6th Street (a.k.a. 988 Harrison).

In total, these four developments could yield nearly 400 units of housing and radically change the look and feel of the block(s):

And yes, all of the parcels on the east side of Sixth Street, from Folsom to Stevenson, which represents the western border of the Central SoMa Plan, are zoned for development up 85 feet in height as well.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by scott f

    Looks great! So much of SoMa from Folsom south to the freeway (or really to Brannan) is an underpopulated void. These should give it a sense of place. Hope they’re not waylaid by the market’s apparent downturn.

  2. Posted by unlivable city

    I think we can safely call that style of architecture “Pyongyang du jour”

    • Posted by two beers

      The sterile and monolithic authoritarian coldness of these brutalist maximum security prisons evokes the softer side of Satanley Saitowitz…..

      • Posted by fogmachine

        An easy walk from the Hall of Justice so they’ll fit into the local aesthetic just fine.

      • Posted by not a nimby

        Anything is better than what’s currently there. And this will probably end up looking like the same 20 color material match David Baker looking buildings you see in every city in the U.S. Ahhh gotta love that generic Architecture with no specificity to place.

        • Posted by two beers

          “.Ahhh gotta love that generic Architecture with no specificity to place.”

          So, you agree these buildings are monotonous.

          “Anything is better than what’s currently there”

          So, you don’t care what goes in there, as long as property values go up and poor people are displaced, is that what you mean?

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Which poor people are being displaced here?

    • Posted by Brian M

      So you should be all in favor of this, right? Part of your Hermit Kingdom autarky concept?

  3. Posted by Pablito

    The current development is awful so it will be great to get some new buildings. But these look like Atlantic City, New Jersey circa 1970. Hopefully the street trees will be redwoods…

  4. Posted by Kento

    Great! The sizing looks appropriate and will bring much needed housing. Git ‘er don!

  5. Posted by Dave

    One 8 story box after another. The preliminary architectural plans for each is unremarkable at best. There appears to be no effort to relate the 4 individual buildings to one another. Just a hodge podge of mediocrity.

    Massing all this on one block with little apparent open space, pocket parks, street art – scalability of any sort – is inexcusable. This is a perfect example of why some fear we are witnessing the Sunsetification of much of Central SOMA – just with 8 story boxes instead of two story ones.

    Variation in height is needed – how about one of the buildings be set at 4 or 5 stories. The flat rooflines are oppressive. Roofline detail should be required by planning as developers obviously are not going to do it on their own – even though it doesn’t cost that much more to add context to the rooflines.

    There is no sense of place in any of this which is something the Central SOMA needs. It’s done in The Pearl -. not all buildings there past muster but a real effort is made to integrate the whole area aesthetically and it shows. Buildings need not all look alike or have the same style, but they need to integrate with each and from that create a sense of place and neighborhood. Under the current planning regime that is not going to happen in the Central SOMA.

    This is the end of a cycle and these projects as now envisioned may not happen. Which would be a good thing. Perhaps by the time of the next up-cycle a mayor will be in place who supports more modest and sustainable growth and values design aesthetics – and likewise a planning commission.

    • Posted by scott f

      Paris looks pretty nice with no variation in height. But if we want variation, why not a few 14-15 story buildings instead of 4-5? It works nicely in Mission Bay, which incidentally seems poised to finally take off as a neighborhood… was walking there and noticed 2 new restaurants preparing to open on Reveille’s block.

    • Posted by scott f

      Should have put this in my previous comment but by the way… a rendering from this angle isn’t really evidence of a lack of cohesion or sense of place. Unless you are a bird this isn’t how you see the streetscape. First floor matters and in this rendering it’s obscured by the street trees. If the buildings are broken up into multiple well-differentiated retail spaces and the developers are serious about filling those spaces quickly, this will be an engaging street. If not, it won’t, but this rendering doesn’t tell us that.

      Good first-floor design is much more important and noticed on foot than whether the building height is 5 or 8 or 22 stories. The intense debates we have about how tall is “too tall” while paying little attention to sidewalk engagement is yet another example of how the conversation about development in the Bay Area focuses on the wrong things.

      • Posted by Dave

        Absolutely agree about the need for sidewalk engagement in these projects. That is a critical element, though not the only one.

        The retail space “problem”, such that it is, could readily be helped by including street level townhomes at the ground level in some of these projects. Stoops and all – along with a shrub or two. I don’t understand why more developers don’t do something in addition to retail space at the street level. Especially as much of the retail element remains empty for years in these new developments. Perhaps the retail blocks are too large and smaller spaces would be more appropriate, but shopping is changing and small independent retailers are having a more difficult time of making a go of it. Retail alone is not the answer.

        There have been a few SF projects where townhomes have been built or are being proposed for the ground level – the old KRON building on Van Ness is one such. In other cities the use of townhomes at the street level is much more common.

        To quote Roger Scruton: “insofar as architecture has any role to play in supporting the social life of those who live with it, the street of congenial facades must inevitably offer more basic nourishment than the block of dead corridors.”

        • Posted by scott f

          Stoops would be good too. 333 12th St has a design along those lines.

        • Posted by AK

          I was really worried that this discussion would elapse without any mention of shrubbery.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      You are easily oppressed if you find flat rooflines oppressive. And this is an honest question–how do building “integrate” with each other? What does that even mean?

      This sounds like empty criticism just to criticize, albeit with buzzwords.

      • Posted by Orland

        Hey, he’s very good at it.

  6. Posted by 101

    If only they can redevelop 6th street from Bryant all the way up to Market. These type of developments are very welcome and often people get their first street view after existing off the freeway at Bryant. Also, don’t forget about the Flower Mart development in the general area. Keep up the good work.

  7. Posted by that_dude

    I’ll take it.

  8. Posted by Some Guy

    Welcome back to 1962.

    • Posted by Mark

      Now we know what happened to all those out of work East German architects.

      Unless those are fake trees, you will never get that canopy.

      Sidewalk engagement already exists. Sadly, it’s the type of engagement most people try to avoid.

      No, this is not Sunsetification of Central SOMA. The Sunset was a suburban-style development for people who wanted the post-war dream of single-family home ownership within city limits where they could either take the streetcar or drive to their jobs downtown.

  9. Posted by scott f

    301 6th Street was delayed for casting a tiny amount of shadow on Gene Friend Rec Center in the early morning.

    Looks like 363 6th Street triumphed over similar concerns. Adding 0.02% more shadow is okay but 0.89% is not.

  10. Posted by BernalDweller

    All of the condos on the west side of that block of 6th St. will lose their skyline views, and therefore will lose value. I used to own the top floor corner at 360 6th (aka 155 Harriet). We had a 180 degree view from Nob Hill to the ballpark and beyond.

    I’m in favor of building on the east side of 6th St, but this does seem kind of blockish and boring. I agree there is no real sense of place here. The comparison to uniform heights in Paris is ludicrous, as these buildings are not in the same league. Hey, I made my money when we sold in 2005, but just sayin’.

    • Posted by scott f

      I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for homeowners whose condos lost value in a city where high home prices have caused massive displacement and economic polarization. How unfair for those condo owners!

      • Posted by BernalDweller

        I never said it was “unfair”, nor did I imply that it was unfair. it is most certainly “fair” in that views are not protected and caveat emptor and all of that. I am also in favor of these projects for exactly the reasons you are mentioning. But I am not taking any glee in the loss of others, either.

        • Posted by scott f

          OK, works for me. Keep in mind also that while they’re losing the skyline view, they’re gaining more attractive, possibly safer, surroundings, and new neighbors might support a more vibrant retail scene. I’m no expert in how that factors into the price, but it may become more pleasant to live there.

    • Posted by SomAndy

      I live in 322 6th across the street from these buildings. They can’t come soon enough. I have lived in the building for 6 years and have seen the neighborhood as a whole start to change for the better. Sixth Street, however, has continued to lag – especially the Market to Howard corridor as the neighborhood slowly pushes people from other areas of SoMa into a smaller area.

      While the buildings don’t get me excited from an aesthetic point of view, the real benefit will be more foot traffic, hopefully some retail (although seeing how slow Mosso has been to fill doesn’t make me optimistic) and eventually more of a neighborhood feel.

      Given the freeway traffic, the block between Folsom and Harrison feels like more of an extended on-ramp than a street. Retail and street-level activity will help transform this area, even if the design is boring. And while some Skyline views may disappear, Draves Park to the south and Gene Friend community center to the west will preserve great views of the rest of the city.

  11. Posted by Blue

    Current feel of that block is automotive wasteland. Parking in bombed-out gas stations, gangly uncared-for street trees, and the awkward meeting of Hall of Justice and “Boardinghouse District.” Any change here is good.

    • Posted by Hunter

      Agree wholeheartedly. As are much of the blocks on Folsom / Howard in each direction.

  12. Posted by spencer

    it would be nice if these were 100% market rate to really help change the feel of 6th street

    • Posted by two beers

      Yes, what a wasted opportunity to displace one of the last concentrations of the disposable underclass whose surplus value as human beings in the market economy makes them unable to increase your property values and rents fast enough for your liking. At least you don’t try to pretend that building more housing that most people won’t be able to afford will actually make housing “more affordable.”

  13. Posted by Dave

    Someone above described this as “monolithic authoritarian coldness”. Quite apt .

    Bulk and density controls have apparently been thrown out the window. Build to the lot line and, if you can, get away with no or just a token bit of open space. But for the private shaded courtyards in the middle of these housing blocks.

    The answer to preventing travesties as this is likely to become – if built – is simple. Imagine that rendering with 1/3 of the space across the 4 parcels left as open space or a combination of open space and 3 story townhomes. A little breathing room for those on the upper floors of these buildings who will, as envisioned, be staring out of their window into the window of the unit 20 feet away.

    The city PTB and developers will not allow any sort of serious bulk or density controls in the new Central SOMA. An initiative would change that – one requiring a set amount of a parcel being set aside for open space/low rise townhomes/ or retail. Restricting the building footprint to 70% or so of the buildable lot. This would encourage some building setback from the too narrow sidewalks – increasing sidewalk width would in turn enhance sidewalk engagement.

  14. Posted by Conifer

    These are horrible, but what is currently there is worse. We have learned to accept architectural monstrosities in San Francisco. There are many alternatives to this kind of development.

    • Posted by two beers

      “These are horrible, but what is currently there is worse”

      Then, you are complicit in a false choice. If these buildings suck, then why not build something better?

  15. Posted by Richard

    Since everybody’s an urban planner, let me add me two cent’s worth. This stretch of 6th Street should be declared an historic and architecturally significant district! How else to preserve a link to the city’s past?frei Windlass

  16. Posted by Sam

    As a neighbor, I agree with the commentators who stated that these proposed, generic, boxy buildings are a needed improvement over what is there now. Also the commentator who suggested landscaping with redwoods is spot on. Increased setbacks and redwood trees would go a long way to humanize these developments, stand up to the heavy traffic and help clean up the air.

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