Sidelined by the economy in 2006, not to mention ongoing concerns about the density of the proposed redevelopment and its impact on the neighborhood, the formal application to level the former Excelsior District Woolworth’s turned Dollar Store at 4550 Mission Street and construct a five-story building upon the site have been filed with Planning with a refined design by Schaub Ly Architects.

As we first foreshadowed last year, the development as proposed would yield 24 family-sized apartments, a mix of 8 two-bedrooms and 16 threes, over 7,300 square feet of ground floor retail space fronting Mission and a basement garage for 24 cars with its entrance on Harrington Street.

And as the site is zoned for development up to 56 feet in height, a density bonus is not required for the project as proposed.

26 thoughts on “Sidelined Excelsior District Development Closer to Reality”
  1. As a relatively new resident to this part of SF (Sunnyside) I am eagerly rooting for development along this entire stretch of Mission St. From anyone who might be in the know, just curious if Excelsior fights development as much as the Mission? Or is it muted in comparison? The ‘concerns about the density of the proposed redevelopment and its impact on the neighborhood’ verbiage from 2006 worries me somewhat…

    1. I’ve in the area for about a decade and can assure you that people in this area are as eager to stop development. The one benefit is that they are not as organized as those in the mission. Density and lack of parking are usually the big pushback. Checkout NextDoor for the occasional battle.

      1. According to a friend who’s been to neighborhood meetings, the longtime activists oppose density but the younger generation (who grew up there, not just transplants!) supports it. Supervisor Safai is also more interested in brokering deals to build more housing compared to Ronen. See the Safeway redevelopment deal Safai struck to get a new Safeway, more subsidized affordable units and more housing overall than originally proposed.

  2. Parking is a real problem for old school residents

    The areas developed pre-war I believe but as sort of a street car suburb model around nuclear families maybe with one car and a Dad who went downtown for work. My father’s family moved out of the Mission and bought a house in the Excelsior with money from the GI bill while other’s went to the Sunset or out of the City.

    Over the years the neighborhoods have gotten denser and denser with paved over yards, units in garages and people living in the dining rooms. And a lot of adults with cars.

    1. you are totally right – only I would say entitlement to parking is the problem.

      Turning your garage into living space, renting it out, and then bitching about street parking is hardly going to elicit sympathy from our generation which has to contend with student debt and astronomical living costs.

      Not to mention these “old school” residents have the benefit of Prop 13 so they are paying a fraction of the taxes that anyone moving into new construction will be paying. SF has to pay for things somehow and building more is one of the few tools they have.

      1. And some of these so called old school residents? They may have 3+ cars, they may not even live there, and I heard from a neighbor that one house down the block from me has THIRTY ONE occupants. So there needs to be some more housing density, right now.

        The NIMBYs here make me so angry, complaining about loss of trees and “character”, as if this is more important than human beings. Ask yourself why former Joe’s Cable Car is literally falling apart and blighted, instead of becoming the nice apartment building WITH PARKING in the design? it’s these people.

  3. I like it! These 5 story projects seem too short for me in the Inner Mission where we have BART, but it’s a good size for a neighborhood with very solid bus service (14/14R/14X/49) but no train.

    Note that it’s yet another 24-unit project, right below the threshold where the inclusionary requirement goes from 12% to 19-21%. We continue to see few projects able to pull off the new higher rate. I was pleased to see Mayor Breed’s housing policy report suggest revisiting these rates based on feasibility studies rather than politics.

  4. Building Design changed slightly, in materials, windows and palette, but overall they are giving the same old same old architectural formula, which is what is NOT needed in the excelsior, we need improved designs, concepts including roof features, and improved corner designs.

    The shown design should still go another round, before allowing it to move forward. Plus a requirement for street visual see-in of retail, not CVS or a bank, or other garbage retail, we need real retail along this corridor. Walk it and you can see why the change is needed, but not so badly that we should just take any SH-T that is shoveled down this way.

    Excelsior Planning Working Group needs to review as a committee the changes and request street scale and building needed improvements in the aesthetics and design shown pre-planning approvals.

    1. Great comment. There are what, five bays across the Mission St facade, but only one door? Clearly anticipating one and done lease to national chain drug store etc. We need the occasional drug store, but it is a loss if buildings are designed so that it is impossible to do anything else with them.

      1. we have banks, walgreens, base retail, and a lack of store-sales frontage… Many 1-2 story buildings, and need to activate the street along mission. The excelsior planning working group is doing what they can to discuss the improvements needed. Many want to see new housing along the corridor to provide retail customers, but if its too high-priced the locals will be pushed out. Therefore a balance must be struck inclusive of essential housing low-cost Mercado and alternative retail, with not just high-end retail pushing out existing business.

    2. ITA. Materials, windows, palette need much more work. And the roofline as well as street level engagements. The most important parts of a building are where it meets the ground and touches the sky. This design gets a fail on that. SF needs improved design concepts but those do not seem to be happening. After a decade plus of mega-development and especially in the SOMA area the city is left with uninspiring housing blocks and office towers. A latter day version of the Sunset. “mistake”.

      1. Dave is 100% correct, we see too much stucco, siding garbage and need design layout changes, and concept changes that work for the district.

        agree whole-heartedly.

  5. This is exactly what we need in the outer mish. I’m a strong believer in “form follows function”. I always enjoy looking at brick building. I love the facade treatment which reflects the traditional/classic/standard building style. We don’t need those crazy SOMA buildings, impractical floor plans with unnecessary setback, which become outdated too soon too fast!

  6. The excelsior and general District 11 fights change. That is why the mission corridor is the way it is. When you have a new development come up, Poder and those type of organizations scare everyone away.

    1. They fight change that they see does not include their input. We are for catalyst buildings and new projects that add to the entry exit and length of the corridor. We need new projects, but we don’t oppose everything. We want to see well thought and designed projects, If you walk the corridor you see why there is a concern for the mom and pop businesses, and the need for improved store-street scale design and public improvements. This includes new housing parks, streetscale furntiture and tree plantings… It can be done, but more coordinated efforts are needed, as development is pressuring to build in the D11 and the need is not just for “brokered” agreements with private sector groups and the supervisors, but public input and design implemented along the street and buildings designed and built. An equity of project types and infill is needed. We are concerned the wave becomes a tsunami without us as inhabitants able to address the changes with those making the “decisions”.

  7. 2nd SF Generation, needs to take a long stroll down the corridor and look with an aesthetic and architectural eye to the lacking vision and un-inspiring designs. If you’re on socketsite you know we can get a better deal or design for this project.

    1. I live in the excelsior my whole life and I can tell you a fact that the proposed design is better than 90% of what had been built in the last 50 years. You spent the whole time bashing around negatively without offering any artistic or architectural fundamental suggestion. It’s hard to bargain with those developer without knowing what you want.

      Not everyone wants an avant garde building. I honestly like the proposed design.

      1. Never said it had to be “avant-garde” / My concern is the corner, which looks like a leftover vertical stripe of material vs. actually understanding what a corner design can and should be in SF…. No review of precedent, and scale and proportion of building still seems “off”…. Plus minimal top feature, makes it look ordinary….

      2. Agree better than most, and the changes are an improvement, just need a bit more tweaks on the punch-outs, or with the corner material, vs. glazed, vs.???? Up to the architect and developer, I dont like hand-feeding solutions to someone… They have to figure it out and get it approved.

  8. We need to be accountable to our community to ensure that our own neighbors, the families that are living in garages, or doubled up in homes that are rented out by the room, become the ones who can afford to move into these new units. It’s not fair for them to get to the back of the line behind newly arrived deep-pocketed professionals who can pay the exorbitant rents when it’s our neighbors who’ve been here, contributing to our community and city.

    The reality is that there are many in our neighborhood who are really struggling, through no fault of their own, because of our development model. Giving a pass to fancy new buildings to beautify our commercial corridor comes with too many trade-offs. Because this market is so tilted towards pricing new units for the highest income earners, new market rate developments put even more upward pressure on land values. New fancy buildings provide an incentive to nearby landlords and property owners to continue raising rents on our neighbors and small businesses. So our already unstable community becomes even more destabilized.

    Majority market rate development will further intensify gentrification and contribute to the displacement of our working class families, renters, small businesses, and our diverse cultures. What need to raise the bar and our expectations for all new development to ensure that they are building for our own communities and pricing units at levels that are affordable to the everyday wages that families in our neighborhood earn, no more than that.

    1. If you go to sell your car, would you sell it for $2000 ? or would you look for someone to buy it for $3500 ?

      Would you spend $500 a sq. ft. to build, and then sell for $800 a sqft?
      Would you spend $900 a sq. ft. to build, and then sell for $1800 a sqft?

      Let’s be real. Building housing is a business, not a charity donation because people in the city don’t have housing. Failure to realize this, and failure to address this is what the problem is.

      People chiming in at planning dept meetings have 99% never tried to construct anything,
      yet they seem to know all the features a building should have.

      If developers are scared away, and cannot make a profit, there will be no housing built.
      Keep this in mind. The city does not build housing.
      Maybe the system needs to be changed, and incentives added to keep the builders in a profit.

      If there is no profit, due to demanding items , there will be no buildings made.
      If someone came into your job with no experience, and then told you how to do your job more profitably, you would laugh in their face.

      There needs to be a happy medium, somehow.

  9. Many projects are not accountable, they make changes, in planning and permitting and we are stuck holding the bag for years (architecturally) so it is critical regardless of the low/high housing costs, to enforce better standards in the designs. We dont need to have tile siding, which looks like a mausoleum. We want housing ammenable to people, families, seniors, and students, we need housing that looks like its livable and not stacked boxes. We need a planning department that listens to the ideas and importance of livable units, with exterior spaces. We also need to ensure that developers (already stacking up to build up the excelsior) are not given carte-blanche on making our neighborhood the next gentrification zone, and that we make demands on how and in what ways street-scape, open-space, and public ammenities are included in the designs.

    I want housing for our existing community members, so they have a place to call home as well as something they will be proud and happy to have as housing. If its new it does not have to be fancy, it can be devoid of high-end materials, but still have good basic design qualities.

    This project is getting better, but it can go another step in terms of addressing the corner and street major elements. Too plain means we wont see any improvement retail wise as well.

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