The formal application to move forward with the semi-massive redevelopment of CPMC’s nearly 5-acre California Hospital Campus at 3700 California Street has just been submitted to San Francisco’s Planning Department.

While the Planning Department’s review of TMG Partners’ preliminary plans for the site had “strongly encouraged” increasing the density of the development beyond the 240 units of housing as preliminarily proposed, the formal application for the development calls for a total of 258 units of high-end housing – including 14 new single-family homes and 244 multi-family units – spread across 31 new buildings rising up to seven stories in height on the southern border of Presidio Heights.

Keep in mind that the majority of the campus site is actually zoned for development up to 80 feet in height. But in the words of the project team:

The Project plan embodies the “Neighborhood Vision Plan” developed over two years with a Vision Advisory Committee comprised the leaders of many local neighborhood associations from the site vicinity. In addition, numerous small meetings were held including informal neighbor in-home meetings, and meetings with local community leaders. A neighborhood survey was conducted to determine the preferences of neighbors regarding for land uses and overall project composition.

In addition to the 31 new buildings, the existing 9-unit residential building at 401 Cherry would be retained and renovated along with the older part of the existing Marshal Hale building at 3698 California Street which is to be converted into residential use.

While Planning had also encouraging the project team to build far fewer off-street parking spaces than the 373 as preliminarily proposed, the formal plans call for a total of 393 spaces, including 2 spots per single-family home.

Or as we foreshadowed, the encouraged reduction in parking was a change which “the existing neighbors (who would face additional competition for street parking) and TMG Partners (which would face lower values for the high-end units which are built) [were] likely to oppose if not simply ignore.”

And no, the development does not include any retail or office space as proposed.

41 thoughts on “Plans for Semi-Massive Presidio Heights Development Formalized”
  1. Residential only?! More parking than units!?
    This will become a desolate and deserted stretch of California Street occupied by Bat-Cave dwellers (drive-in, drive out).

      1. I don’t understand your comment. There ISN”T any commercial spaces in this development, which seems insane to me. We need space for businesses that aren’t just banks! (of which we have plenty) Why not include a yoga studio? a cafe? a sandwich shop?

  2. This is an incredibly well designed complex. It’s attention to detail, use of different facades, setbacks along those facades, varied roof treatments and so much more. Its strategic use of infrequent deck/balconies is spot on. Flat facades broken by arching components define and set the buildings apart from one another. This complex would fit nicely among those newer projects being built in Charlottesville – some of which post ads on SS. If one clicks on the ads as I often do one has to be disappointed at seeing the much better – compared to SF – architecture and concepts going into medium sized hosuing developments such as the aforementioned. Or high-rise projects. The ad for the St. Regis in Belgrade which has been popping up at SS has some amazing pictiures of that complex and of a medium density city center that puts the Central SOMA, Western SOMA and MB to shame.

    This should be the standard for new buildings in SF. Instead 85% of new SF projects get a D+. Think of the 6th Street housing blocks, the Excelsior project or the 3314 Cesar Chavez complex. As to pushback – Planning needs to pushback on Excelsior, 6th Street and Cesar Chavez and not this project.

    1. i agree that it looks nice, even though i’m more of a modernist — but i have to call a spade a spade — the only way to finance such a highly-detailed and varied architecture is the knowledge that the units will go to the very rich. no way normal people would be able to pay for such grandiose new buildings.

      1. As noted elsewhere, the affordable housing fees are going to the city, to be used to build affordable housing. So yes, this is for the rich, but it also funds affordable housing.

      2. Actually there is an affordable component here – just off-site. Varied and detailed architecture can be done in virtually any project. It is not done in SF as SF planning allows developers to get away with putting up bland boxes with the de rigueur bay windows. One of the proposals for the Balboa Reservoir was quite detailed, varied and intimate in terms of design and that project has a major on-site affordable component.

        By the same token, office development in SF is pretty mundane and banal. Again, developers get by with doing these projects on the cheap as the city allows it. There are few exceptions but they exist – see the Kilroy DropBox complex – proving they can be done in SF. If only Planning would demand it.

        1. my point is that calling most of SF bland, and then implying this project-for-the-rich should be the rubric, is really not helpful. the architectural articulation costs a lot of money. i and others like me need to be able to afford something, too. and i cannot afford such detailed architecture. we need to think more economically in terms of design and detailing. plenty of beautiful buildings stay away from the luxury details of 19th century victorianism.

          i agree that the winning balboa reservoir proposal has good detail. however, these are different project — the winning balboa project is planning only, and architecture is not included in the win. there will be many architects, thus achieving the much-needed diversity — but expect some duds. if a single project with a single architect and single contractor is charged with such varied detail — expect a fat price.

          TL;DR — we can have good design without designing a bunch of victorians. we can have good design without paying the hefty price for an imitation of yester-century’s buildings.

        2. also — if you are advocating that the city needs to “allow less” and force more detail — then i STRONGLY DISAGREE — construction costs are literally so high, most projects do not pencil. demanding pricier buildings will not help.

          1. Detail comes in many forms. Placing cornices and/or some roofline articulation on buildings would by no means be cost prohibitive and would greatly improve the bland boxes which make up 80% or so of new SF structures.

            It is not a question of ‘allow less’ and ‘force more detail’. This is not a binary choice. How about allow more and stipulate more detail in exchange for that.

            The increased heights in the Central SOMA plan should come with a requirement to include more detail, variety and more open space.

  3. any afordable or subsidized units for elderly and disabledstruggling with high cost and dangerous current housing due to multilple stairs?

  4. This is terrific. The parking if anything should be even higher. People who live at this border of Presidio Heights and Jordan Park have cars and more parking in this development will reduce the numbers who spend their time driving around looking for a space.

  5. Looks great. Glad to see the existing buildings getting razed. The current complex is an ugly mess. Zero cohesion – a random agglomeration of bad 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s cheap as possible boxes jammed together seemingly at random.

    The usual suspects will complain about too much parking – but I expect with the existing garage getting demolished – the number of cars stored on site will actually go down.

    1. My thoughts too.
      Though – in addition to being passé – “massive” is so much SFBT I wouldn’t be surprised if a complaint hasn’t been lodged for trademark violation…”quasi humongous” is probably in the offing.

    2. This is a high-density suburban-style development. It’s not massive or semi-massive, just a development.

      As for the Charlottesville and Begrade comments, nothing executed out here in the sand dunes uses real stone or brick. It’s typically flimsy and fake if you’re used to the building materials of Europe and other US cities. Disney uses the same techniques to make buildings look like you’re in Boston or London. Lots of plywood & stucco made to look enduring.

      Let’s see if Robert Stern can execute something classy re: choice of building materials in his building on Powell/Calif.

  6. Well, for such a family oriented development with houses, I’m surprised there aren’t any parking protected or just any protected bike lanes in this neighborhood.

  7. This is a 5 acre plot. The density of this project is laughable and there is more parking than units. WTF – this is not “transit first”

      1. Exactly. And this site does not have transit. Sure – you can get downtown on the 1-California – but it is slower than heck and stomach lurching to boot where it goes over Nob Hill. It’s not transit – its an adventure. Hiking the 6+ blocks to take the 38 Geary is not a reasonable option. That bus is so overcrowded it makes a sardine can look like a good option.

        Slogans aren’t solutions. Actually providing transit would be a solution.

        If the City was the least bit serious about “Transit first” – they would
        1. encourage – not discourage – development of all the 1 story land uses on Geary. They clearly don’t.
        2. make sure there was sufficient bus capacity on Geary – i.e buy enough buses. Our City has more than enough money to buy enough buses – it just chooses to spend that money on useless crap instead of serving it citizens.

        1. Bus service on Geary has considerably improved in recent years. Most of the buses are very new and, aside from inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening, from my experience it’s always been possible to get a seat.

          1. I agree this line has gotten better. I’d characterize the overcrowding of having gone from completely ridiculous to merely bad. Still lots of room for improvement…

  8. The City should adopt an explicit policy that long-term free on-street parking is not their goal or responsibility. Then parking time limits can be used to ensure that on-street parking can be available for short term parkers.

    Without an explicit abandonment of providing free long term street parking, this objection of new developments providing more competition for existing residents for on-street parking will continue to limit developments and cause proposals like this with excessive parking. It is ridiculous to limit the city’s future potential just to appease the short term complaints of convenience.

  9. I went to several meetings when this project first came up. In the first one TMG actually asked us what kind of development we would want. In one later meeting, with some more detail on the proposed buildings, most of the people there said they would like to live there. Everyone liked the idea of several house-like buildings as opposed to the massive hospital building layout.

  10. The Geary corridor (which this site is in walking distance to) could have had…and would have had…much better transit except for the residents/merchants on the Geary corridor. Geary Street was to have been the first of the “Four Corridors Rail Plan” until the Geary merchants killed it and it went to Third Street instead. Geary Street Bus Rapid Transit could have been operating ten or more years ago, and today yet another uninformed “neighborhood group” is fighting it in court. Two Supervisors are currently trying to put the location of bus stops back in the purview of the Supes, which guarantees no line will ever get speeded up. There is plenty Muni needs to improve, but when we allow every individual in the city to have veto power, nothing will ever improve.

    1. I hope Geary BRT gets killed because it provide very minimal improvement to the detriment of many others. Geary needs a subway. PERIOD. anything less is lipstick on a pig

      1. Geary does need a subway. Do you have $20+ billion sitting around to build it?

        Neither do I. BRT is better than nothing.

        1. A Zuckerberg, Benioff, Ellison or one of these guys should just suck it up and build subways and another tube with their loose change. Or even Kalinick, who could use some good pub. I’m serious. It’s past time to see 21st century tech baron largesse in civic projects. Yes, I am aware of the hospital and the middle school funding. But these guys are the ones who have made the city more crowded.

          1. not a bad idea. even better, put them in charge of the project, because the city is not capable of doing this in any reasonable amount of time. We have the most obstructionist city govt in the entire country.

        2. BRT is not better than nothing. the will to build a subway will be eroded after wasting hundreds of millions on BRT. if i need a jackhammer to knock down a wall, buying a pin head hammer doesnt help

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