Plans to level the three Bartfeld Sales Co. warehouse buildings which stretch from 114 to 150 14th Street, as well as two adjacent industrial buildings on Erie (numbers 55 and 73), are in the works on the northern edge of the Mission across from the Foods Co.

And as proposed, a new four-story building will rise up to 58 feet in height across the six parcel site which is zoned for Production, Distribution and Repair (PDR).  But don’t get too excited, unless you’re rolling in a Benz.

For as envisioned, the proposed 200,000-square-foot development would be a new repair, service, storage and towing facility for Mercedes-Benz of San Francisco, with 61 service bays, 15 loaner stations and parking/storage for up to 583 vehicles.

And no, the proposed demolition and development doesn’t include the adjacent Rabbit Hole Café building with a living façade, around which the new 140 14th Street building would wrap.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by scott f

    What an excellent and appropriate use of land three blocks from BART. People can carry their broken-down cars on the train! This zoning makes sense.

    • Posted by Pierre Johnson

      No kidding. This isn’t just right by BART, it’s right by a high frequency bus, a freeway and a major artery. Should be a zoned like Rincon Hill.

      • Posted by Frisco

        If this was a proposed apartment building people would say “who wants to live next to an overpass surrounded by light industry and big-box stores?!” You really can’t win.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Not only that, but … isn’t being right next to public transit and a freeway a *good* think for a high-volume car maintenance facility? (Ya know, easy access for people with cars, and with cars in the shop, etc.) What, people want it in the middle of St. Francis Wood instead?

    • Posted by jimbo

      i think its excellent. theres not a mercedes service center in SF and desperately needed

      • Posted by OMN

        “Desperately needed” by SF’s most pretentious residents, sure.

        • Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

          Perfectly normal, unpretentious people in SF drive Mercedes. A $600 monthly car payment may be out of your reach, or for even moderately pretentious people in Omaha, but in a city where 2BR apartments rent for 10x that it’s hardly extravagant.

          And no, I don’t drive Mercedes.

        • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

          What I think that “gentrified…clean” is leaving out, is that the hypothetical $600 monthly car payment isn’t the major expense that would either put a Mercedes-Benz either within one’s budget or out of one’s reach. Assuming one isn’t leasing (a big assumption these days), the budget-busting expense is scheduled maintenance and unplanned repairs when something goes wrong.

          And when the car gets to be a certain age, you can pretty much bet on $1,750+ repair bills on a regular, yet unforseeable basis (which, of course, is one reason so many people lease cars like this).

      • Posted by NF

        There is a MB service center in SF. It’s in SOMA

        • Posted by that_dude

          Yeah, just not 200k sq ft. lol

    • Posted by sfcommie

      And they can shop for grocery while their Benz is getting repaired. Some may think Foodsco is too ghetto, but the price is right and I used to shop there.

      • Posted by Jk

        There’s rainbow groceries.

  2. Posted by Hunter

    Really gross that we allow auto-repair and sales to pass as PDR—SoMa is already packed full of this stuff and it ruins the walkability. There are also 2 mercedes locations within a couple blocks of this site (11th and Folsom & 8th and Bryant). All of these lots should have 6-10 floors of housing on them.

    • Posted by Notcom

      You think it’s “gross” that we “allow” auto-repair to “pass” as P(roduction) D(istribution) R(EPAIR) (emphasis added)?

      I’m not sure really how to respond to that – other than to wonder if you shouldn’t wait until April 1st to make this claim: the point (of PDR retention) is a lot more than walkability, it’s to provide room for support services necessary for the rest to the city to function.

      • Posted by Panhandle Pro

        Non-snarky question: How does Manhattan do it? Are there large auto garages in Manhattan?

        My instinct is for the most part they are in the Bronx, Queens, or New Jersey. Along those lines, couldn’t SF’s PDR be in more southern SF (Bayview, Visitacion Valley)?

        • Posted by SF Expat

          On the Westside Highway in Manhattan there are plenty of auto dealerships. Also Harley Davidson, Ducati, Triumph…you see where I’m going? Indoor parking (at a hefty price) can be found on the island too. Lots of auto lots in Brooklyn, Queens, SI, and Bronx too.

          May Merc build the damn thing on 14th Street.

        • Posted by Notcom

          Perhaps validating your thoughts, “yelp” shows only 2 “auto repairs” in Manhattan – as opposed to 5 adjacent in Queens – tho this should perhaps be seen as a ratio rather than a complete list.

          It should also be remembered that the distance from midtown>Queens is about the same as from downtown to this address, so political boundaries aren’t entirely descriptive.

        • Posted by Pablito

          Bayview? The last African American neighborhood in the City, the one that has every undesirable unhealthy land use dumped on it for the last 100 years? The City’s sewage treatment plant? the garbage transfer facility for the entire City? 50 acres of radioactive waste? (Hunters Point) hmmm…. SF Planning values.

          • Posted by SFrentier

            Errr…Bayview is different than hunters point. And BOTH neighborhoods are going through radical and positive transformations. Basically Bayview is the mission 10-15 years ago. Nice housing stock, 3rd street is improving, convenient to soma and fidi, plus easy freeways access to Silicon Valley. The few homes that are offered for sale are flying off the shelf.

            Hunters point is a whole new planned community. Some hiccups wrt the soil testing from the former navy shipyard, but that will get sorted out. New condos at $700-800 PSF are selling briskly.

            FYI, it’s not a sewage treatment plant. It’s a water treatment planet, which is moving further away soon.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            More accurately, or rather factually, the existing wastewater treatment facility in northern Bayview is slated to be upgraded and expanded while the sales office for the San Francisco Shipyard recently had to reduce prices when sales stalled.

          • Posted by SFrentier

            What I said was factual: the I portion of the water treatment plant that is industrial in nature (with the big tanks) is moving. That’s the less pleasant part of it. What stays is not an issue to residents.

            At the shipyard prices were lowered very little, and they are still getting over $700 PSF. That’s pretty impressive for a formerly remote and desolate part of the city.

            My perspectives and comments are pretty accurate, and yours are pushing a negative spin.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            Our apologies. When you wrote the “water” treatment plant, which actually treats both solid and liquid waste, “is moving further away soon,” we thought you were implying that the facility was “moving further away soon” rather than being upgraded and expanded. And of course, “the big tanks” aren’t moving, they’re being decommission and replaced with better technology on the expanded site.

            And when you wrote that new condos were “selling briskly,” we thought you meant to imply “selling briskly” rather than having recently stalled, at which point the prices were reduced.

          • Posted by Notcom

            You stated “it’s not a sewage treatment plant. It’s a water treatment (sic) planet”

            Since “water treatment” is usually understood to mean pre-consumption treatment, while “sewage” applies to post consumption – and let’s avoid the (expanded ) “water cycle” arguments, please – one might say your perspective is less factual than “positive spin”.

          • Posted by SFrentier

            Sure, parse words all you like. The main fact is that the big tanks are what cause an occasional smell, and that won’t be the case in the future. So a benefit to the immediate residential area near the existing site.

            And the point that shipyard sales are still getting over $700psf is the main story here. So they went from insane PSF to merely very high, who cares. Their success is still very impressive. And Bayview as a whole has done an amazing turn around in the last several years. Sorry some of you missed out on that extraordinary expansion, but I’m sitting pretty with my Bayview holdings 🙂

          • Posted by Pablito

            Just because someone speculatively pays $700 per sf for some new stucco box development adjacent to a radioactive EPA Superfund area where the Navy’s coordinator for cleanup at the shipyard admits their contractor Tetra Tech faked test results for 440 of the 800+ soil samples doesn’t mean you got a winner there sport. It probably just means P.T.Barnum was right…

          • Posted by SFrentier

            I dunno bro, judging by your first comment linking “the last African American neighborhood” to everything that’s possibly wrong, well it just sounds like it’s not your kind of neighborhood. But of course many others disagree with your myopic and close minded view of this once forgotten area. You’re looking backwards…

          • Posted by Fishchum

            FWIW, Pablito, I’ve seen the units at The Shipyard and I think it’s off the mark to describe them as a “stucco box”.

        • Posted by stevenj

          The Port Authority bus terminal at 8th Ave/41st St comes to mind for it’s rooftop parking. There are parking lots/garages all over Manhattan.

      • Posted by Hunter

        If you want to have PDR evenly distributed, that’s one thing. But giving it priority in our most central neighborhood—over residential space—means SoMa is blighted, auto-centric, and underutilized.

        PDR itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s the concentration and lack of building it under 10-stories of housing that pisses me off. Spread it out and require 5-10% of any given neighborhood to be reserved for PDR. But it should be covered with 6-10 floors of housing or office. You really think having THREE Mercedes repair places within a half mile of each other is helping SF to function better?

        • Posted by SocketSite

          “You really think having THREE Mercedes repair places within a half mile of each other is helping SF to function better?”

          The project as proposed would consolidate the existing service center(s) into a single facility and allow the showroom at 500 8th Street to expand.

        • Posted by Chris

          This is what the voters wanted. You get “neighborhood activist” that push this ballot box propositions to protect PDR space because they view new housing as a sign of gentrification, and so this is the end result.

          The voters voted, let them enjoy their auto repair lot.

    • Posted by jimbo

      Repair is part of PDR. they are repairing autos. this is to keep blue collar jobs in SF, and cars need mechanics. WTF is wrong with that?

      • Posted by two beers

        “WTF is wrong with that?”

        I’ll tell you wtf is wrong with that: it impedes gentrification, slows down the increase in property values, and provides well-paying jobs jobs for hard-working people without college degrees who have families.

        Are you suggesting that people without college degrees deserve to make a living they can raise a family on? What are you, an animal? I’m tempted to put down my $30 cocktail and wag my finger at you!

        • Posted by SFrentier

          And they can afford the high SF rents too. Works for me!

      • Posted by Hunter

        So where do these working-class people live if we cannot build housing in hundreds of central SF parcels? 2 hours away in the ‘burbs, driving in solo for those great SF working-class jobs. Build 10 stories of housing over the dealerships/service centers and you still keep the jobs.

        • Posted by two beers

          Several problems with that:

          Ten story buildings are inherently gentrifying, putting their units even further out of reach of working people.

          PDR and _new_ residential have “operating conflicts,” as the editor notes below. These conflicts are mainly white collar workers trying to shut down nearby PDR and entertainment (ie, clubs).

          Ground floor is a loss leader for developers and they aren’t interested in higher-cost PDR buildouts that rent for less.

  3. Posted by Panhandle Pro

    I don’t know a lot about zoning, so I’m gonna throw out a crazy idea…could a mixed use approach apply here, but with offices + PDR? Or entertainment + PDR?

    Mercedes on floors 1-4, with offices on floors 6-10. Or, in a more funky idea, bars or a club (no noise complaints with PDR) above.

    • Posted by Hunter

      Yes, but these areas are zoned for something like 50-feet so it prohibits building several stories of housing. The Western SoMa plan totally f*cked this area’s future.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        New housing is not allowed on PDR zoned parcels in order to keep them free from the “inherent economic and operational competition and conflicts.” Large office and retail developments are prohibited as well.

        • Posted by SFrentier

          Because those are higher value uses than PDR, and owners will want to minimize loathsome PDR use and maximize office, retail or residential uses. Oldest trick in the SF RE handbook…somehow buying PDR and transforming it into the other uses (the infamous 90’s lofts, informal office space, etc.) Serious cha-ching going on when/if you can pull that off.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      I like your thinking about combining entertainment and PDR. Not only are those uses non conflicting, they also repel residential.

      • Posted by two beers

        Historically, PDR and entertainment have been very compatible in SOMA and the Mission. ‘Twas condo-lofts killed the beast.

  4. Posted by Bobby Mucho

    I’ve always been interested in learning more about these buildings’ history. I’m pretty sure they were stable houses up into the 20s, yea?

    • Posted by Notcom

      The SFPL indicates they have the Sanborn (Fire Insurance) maps for this period online, so if you have a library card you can access them.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      That’s rather unlikely, considering the three buildings fronting 14th were built between 1923 and 1942…

      • Posted by Serge

        Correct, they were built on the site of apartment buildings. The only exception I can think of is the Hay & Grain building and Milk Depot that were on the spot where one of these warehouses is. Interesting that these have wood siding for having been built that late.

    • Posted by Serge

      Sanborn maps from 1899 show that the two lots were occupied by apartment buildings (2-3 flats each). There was also a Hay & Grain Depot between them. For anyone curious, the map is #173.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Yesterday, I looked up this block on the 1915 Sanborn Map, and there was indeed a livery stable there and the building was very similar to what’s there now, at least in regards to size, height, and materials. Of course we have the property records, which claim a build date of 1942, but it’s possible that they’re simply wrong, or that the building was rebuilt at that time.

      At any rate, I think it’s safe to say that your premise is correct in that there was a livery stable here at one point, and even if it isn’t the same building, it’s very similar to the stable (building) when it was there.

    • Posted by waukesha

      For a long time, the site was the warehouse of G.W. Thomas Drayage & Rigging. The name can still be seen on the buildings from the overpass (here is a picture).

      And this is what the buildings looked like in the 1920s.

      • Posted by Notcom

        Ah yes, good ol’ “Shorpy”…anyway, Thomas was the building on the west – the one behind the phone pole in the (“now”) pic. The livery stable (Pacific Stables in the directory) is the building in the foreground…assuming it’s the same building, so at least the location of it.

  5. Posted by Metroliner

    This probably means they are selling their huge repair center on 11th and Folsom. Which will be replaced by a 4-5 floor housing development.

    • Posted by Hunter

      Would hope so, but both areas should have more than 5 floors of housing. 6-10 would work great.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      The existing service center at 1480 Folsom, which has been identified as a potential historic resource for the Western SOMA Light Industrial and Residential Historic District, is currently leased.

      Regardless, the Folsom Street site is zoned for office, light industrial, arts or entertainment uses. A residential or large hotel development would not be permitted.

      • Posted by Metroliner

        Doesn’t mean it cannot get changed. The former Kang’s Trading at Dore and Folsom was rezoned to residential.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          The Kung’s parcel fell within the Folsom Street Neighborhood Commercial Transit District, which not only allows for housing but encourages it above the second floor. That’s opposed to being zoned for Mixed Use-Office which doesn’t allow for housing, as we outlined above.

  6. Posted by GR

    Just out of curiosity what is stopping city to allow mixed use of space like residential or hotel plus PDR whenever appropriate? I see so much underutilized spaces in soma which are just one storey designer warehouses

    • Posted by scott f

      Politics. If you want to change it you can join a certain local activist group the editor doesn’t allow me to name here.

  7. Posted by UnlivableCity

    You can’t make this stuff up. The downzoning scheme hatched by the fauxgressives (hoping to weaponize zoning to force large property owners to sell their assets for fire sale prices to non-profiteer developers) results in luxury luxury luxury.

    From Mercedes to Tartine, Heath to high tech r&d… the actual people who live in this area wanted to extend the freeway tear down all the way to the 80 nexus, but the brilliant Jane Kim Chris Daly Tom Ammiano crowd stopped them because making things too nice would lead to gentrification. So now we get Mercedes.

    Power to the people!

  8. Posted by ElmerJFuddMillionaireGentrifier

    SF needs a Lexus service center, not Mercedes.

  9. Posted by MDG399

    What a waste – prime R/E near BART, Busses etc…. PERFECT for a luxury car repair garage… ?? NOT

  10. Posted by SFwatcher

    This city is going to look more and more like Calcutta, with the Benz-driving elite mere feet away from the destitute. Quite literally on Erie.

  11. Posted by Dan Steele

    Doesn’t the area already have 4+ car dealership facilities? (Audi Volvo Mazda and VW) which have been part of the community for 50 years? and over 10 auto repair businesses within 3-5 blocks?

    Seems an appropriate common use of the appropriate zoned area, plus non “high tech’ employment is probably not such a bad thing.

    If I am correct all the domestic auto dealers/shops have left SF ( exception Tesla ). one thing for sure, SF is changing at a fast pace than ever. for all the NIMBY folks that train has left the station …

  12. Posted by Carl

    I hate most of this thread. But my $.02: I think this is a better use of land next to a highway than some other options. Yes housing would be amazing, but before you all sh*t on a local business trying to build a new facility in a town that they have been operating in for decades, maybe you need to think about why they might be doing it.

    MBSF has many properties and leases all over SF just to accommodate daily business, this is f’ing chaos. Most car dealers in SF can’t get adequate square footage to operate. The purpose of this building is to combine multiple facilities into one, which means releasing other properties back to the market. They employ hundreds of people from SF and the bay area, and from experience I can say they treat their employees well with a fair pay.

    Having been a business owner in SF I know all too well how hard this real estate market is. But being a NON-tech SF resident, having a place that is accessible via public transportation makes life a little less harsh in a city where rent is crippling. Oh and if some of you all forget, it wasn’t until the last 15 years that anybody gave a sh*t about SOMA. But it has been an industrial zoned area for a considerable history of SF.

    As Tech startups encroach on every cute ‘industrial’ zoned warehouse so they can have a Industrial looking open ‘office’ space, remember why you can’t afford a plumber, or a sewing store, or dry cleaner. The people that make this city run are being pushed out because of poor city planning and inconceivable rent increases, but nobody cares where their UPS driver lives as long as their Amazon delivery continues to show up on time.

    • Posted by that_dude

      Carl, you make some good points. And, I empathize with you. But the reality is, times change and so do businesses. If a business is needed, it will probably survive – but I don’t think any business is safe in the long term, really. It’s a constant changing world, and you have to adapt.

      The Ports of SF are no longer used for actual importing or shipping, they’re used for nice restaurants and a boardwalk. Low end retail is dying – Amazon and online retail is taking over. Want to make a successful retail? You need to shift to luxury, boutique and beautiful businesses in SF. SOMA isn’t used as a cruddy factory with low income workers, it’s not high end technology. Hell, I could see this 200k sq ft Mercedes dealership become worthless and die in 25 years if we all shift to rented, driverless cars.

  13. Posted by Heather Piper

    Coincidentally, there is a big fifth alarm fire burning there right now. I hope nobody gets hurt.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Yep save that ‘google view’ (above)…the “levelling” has been moved up, and is almost finished

      • Posted by jimbo

        rumor is that this was caused by a mattress fire in a homeless encampment

  14. Posted by RS

    Now completely destroyed by a fire…hmm.

    • Posted by Kristen Gottula

      I wonder if the plans for the demolition were held up somehow, because one of the spaces in this building was listed on Redfin for lease since the beginning of the year. Did the owner of the property, or any of the tenants have an interest in burning it down? Insurance? Environmental red tape? It was packed with flammable. How much did this 5-alarm fire cost the taxpayers of San Francisco? I hope the author of this article does some more investigating.

    • Posted by Kristen Gottula

      This article was written February of 2018. The property was last sold four months later, July of the same year. Was the buyer Benz, or another entity?

      • Posted by SocketSite

        That’s incorrect. While Euromotors’ lease was terminated earlier this year, the property, which is still owned and controlled by the Bartfeld family, was then leased to DECA Holdings. And the proposed plans for the site, including the demolition, were actually abandoned at the end of 2018.

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