While plans to build up to 500 residential units, between 550,000 and 625,000 square feet of office space and an additional 200,000 to 312,500 square feet of “PDR” space with ground floor retail on the nearly 6-acre Recology site at 900 7th Street – which is bounded by 7th, Berry, De Haro, Carolina and Channel – have been in the works since 2018, Amazon has just announced that it has paid $200 million for the prime Showplace Square site and plans to build a 510,000-square-foot distribution center on the parcel instead.

Amazon’s three-story center would rise up to 57 feet in height on site as envisioned, with a 122,200-square-foot logistic facility on the ground floor, 22,700 square feet of accessory office space and 350,000 square feet of interior loading, staging and off-street parking space for vehicles. And the center’s roof would yield an additional 215,000 square feet of active “fleet staging space,” enough for around 300 vehicles, as well.

Keep in mind that the site is zoned for PDR (Production, Distribution and Repair) uses as of right and would have had to be rezoned for either residential or general office uses and any development over 58 feet in height (as had been proposed).

68 thoughts on “Amazon Buys Prime Development Site in San Francisco”
  1. Smart move by Amazon to lock in extremely fast shipping for a wealthy and influential userbase.

    Am I crazy to suggest Amazon develops it as housing / office space *above* the distribution center? Can I have my same day shipping and housing, too? 🙂

    1. Yes, probably crazy. I do like the idea though. Route travel for trucks on one side and residential enter the other side. Lots of wasted opportunities.

      Hope Amazon covers the roof with solar panels at least!

  2. Pretty wild to consider that if this land had been developed into dwellings at 100 du/ac, just the land costs would have been a third of a million dollars per dwelling.

    1. the blocking of whole foods at the geary center was shameful. trading a best buy for a whole foods needs an environmental review? give me a break. Dean Preston is an insane person hell bent on destroying the city

    2. Retail is in trouble anyway. There are many street level vacant retail spaces in the SOMA and throughout the city. Online shopping marginalizing brick and mortar. Amazon putting a distribution center here is not going to aggravate the ongoing trend. You are correct that the City PTB make it difficult for small non-chain businesses to survive or even open up which worsens the problem. To whit, The Cliff House just announced it will close permaently. Blaming in part government regulations as well as Covid.

      1. Blaming FEDERAL govt inaction (in renewing the lease). I wouldn’t worry: some year soon people will be able to overpay for clam chowder, once again.

        1. Over-priced clam chowder – you sound like a jaded San Franciscan. LOL. At one time a restaurant wanted to come to the Boat House at Lake Merced. This was after the sports bar (of sorts) closed. The City couldn’t get its act together with a reasonable deal. That would be a great location for a restaurant and would have provided much needed income to the City. Now it’s an empty meeting space used by City employees for functions and such.

          1. I ate there once (and no, not clam chowder)…it was OK, but you pay for the view; which of course much of the time is obscured by fog or low overcast (and goes a long way toward explaining why “outdoor dining” in SF, even in the summer months – some might say ‘especially’ in the summer months – is something of a theoretical concept).

    3. Amazon will use driver less transport which would leverage AI to avoid traffic jams. Wasting time on street because of traffic jam would be detrimental to their minimal overhead approach.

        1. You can pre-emptively avoid the delivery based on probable traffic along the route or reorder deliveries and change routes mid-way. AI along with real-time traffic data can suggest the priority and timeliness probability for a given delivery. I’ve solved similar problems in other domains. So I know solutions exist. Scheduling/re-scheduling is the the easy part. Its the driverless (fully autonomous driving) that is the difficult part. My guess is they’ll have an in-person chaperone initially and eventually 100% autonomous driving.

          1. When do you project that Amazon will have these driver less transports? What calendar quarter of what year? Because “eventually” can be a long time away. Meanwhile, the Amazon trucks with human drivers are heading out, every day.

          2. My guess is that AMZN will ‘double-up’ taxi services + last mile delivery. A city like San Francisco, geographically small but with high spending power and dependence on transport is ideal for this. I do not think fully autonomous driving is 100% safe or will ever be. But in a city like SF, its easy to install navigation aides in neighborhoods along with in-person chaperones to be able to practically exceed safety possible with human drivers.

            Walmart is testing driverless deliveries as well. It is going to be a brave new world.

          3. We’re going to have autonomous delivery be the norm eventually, but it’s not imminent. Amazon made a huge investment in Rivian and has signed on for up to 100,000 custom built electric delivery trucks, which very much require a driver. I’ve been in a couple different non-consumer autonomous vehicles and while the technology is very impressive in a lot of ways, it’s also pretty clear that it’s still not ready for primetime or for mass, truly driverless (i.e. no steering wheel or in vehicle driver) operations.

          4. I’ve heard that the sweet spot is algorithmic routing with human drivers. An algorithm can look at the whole fleet and set routes to optimize utilization, delivery speed and fuel consumption. The human drivers then just execute the directions provided by the algorithm. The routing problem is a much easier one vs the actual driving and it provides a bigger benefit. Individual trucks can use cameras/LIDAR to get real time info on congestion and street conditions (narrow street, potholes,…) and update the whole fleet and create better traffic predictive models. There’s been great progress on autonomous driving, but it’s not 100% and if you still need a chaperone it doesn’t save you much.

          5. @wilson — chaperone is also to prevent theft/vandalism and provide the last step door delivery or porch drop. AI will ensure optimal delivery targets, times, routes and fuel consumption. When we evolve to a full fledged 24/7 surveillance state (approved and paid for by the dutiful public) — then do away with chaperones. Overtime these driver-less vehicles will spy on themselves and their surroundings in the interest of keeping citizens safe and secure at which point we can finally defund the police.

  3. Excellent change in development plans. San Francisco does not need any more office space. Or the additional impact all those workers would have on the strained infrastructure and especially transportation. These will be generally blue collar non-tech jobs which many lament San Francisco does not have enough of. Win, win all around.

    1. And where are these blue collar workers going to live? My guess is they will be commuters from Sacramento valley, clogging the freeways even more.

      1. As a former Amazon driver, the company pays better and has better benefits than most smaller companies and it’s probably still not enough for SF/Bay Area standards but what is.

  4. I get that it is zoned for PDR, but I’m struggling to see how this location is better used as a giant distribution facility than as a large housing development (maybe with smaller scale and divided PDR space on the ground floor). It’s 2/3 of a mile from a transit hub and close to several major office buildings and UCSF.

    This seems like it would theoretically make more sense down near Jerrold, east of Bayshore. Even then, I wish we could be more creative about mixing large scale PDR into mixed use development, as some have alluded to here. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason you couldn’t put housing on top of a development like this.

    1. Doesn’t it make at least as much sense as the UPS distribution center that’s less than 1km away and on the same street?

      1. Are you thinking of the UPS facility at 16th Street and San Bruno Ave? That’s along the 22, which is a pretty good bus, but it’s not across the street from a regional transit stop. And barely 100ft from a busy freeway, it’s ill-suited for housing.

        Anonymous is right, PDR here squanders scarce regional transit walkshed.

      2. The difference is the UPS building was built in 1961, when the blocks immediately to the north and east were completely industrial and the city was beginning to see a multi-decade long population decrease.

        1. Good point. I’m no fan of black-and-white zoning but for market and health reasons it doesn’t make sense to have a lot of idling trucks next to residential.

          1. You make it sound as if these will be gasoline powered trucks? By the time this is operational the whole fleet will be electric and probably driverless.

          2. Yeah, I would bet that a significant percentage of the trucks operating out of here by the time it is finished will be electric with the ability to be an all-electric operation not long thereafter.

  5. This is a great use of land! It’s centrally located and will allow Amazon to deliver their packages faster to residents and companies that are located nearby. Additionally, once Caltrain builds their downtown extension, trucks will no longer have to wait at railroad crossings making it easier to get into Mission Bay.

    1. This is such a minor consideration. The small time savings for deliveries to some parts of the city (overwhelming the more well off parts) from putting an Amazon facility at this location doesn’t outweigh the downsides. The percentage of truck trips from this facility that are going to need to use the Mission Bay Drive or 16th rail crossings is quite small.

      Like what if someone proposed building this kind of facility right next to Diridon Station, Berryessa BART, or any other transit adjacent and/or core urban site? Seems pretty illogical to me.

  6. A boon for Amazon but terrible for the ongoing development of the city and a complete waste of such a central site.

    1. Well aware of all of those projects. I watched them go up on a near daily basis. I still don’t think that in and of itself justifies this use for the site.

    1. Amazon has patents for using air drones for last mile delivery. Drones can fly along direct line of sight which can avoid streets and improve delivery times. Not sure they’ll deploy that in San Francisco. But I don’t see why not.

      1. Commercial delivery drones will never fly in SF. As soon as people realize what a racket they make either the BOS or a ballot initiative will ban them.

        1. I do not disagree. But people moved on from horse drawn carriage to automobiles and even more racket making airplanes. Maybe aerial drones could initially be used for intake from cargo delivery flights to the distribution/staging center. They could fly aerial drones 24/7 over the bay.

  7. Amazon warehouse workers will not live in San Francisco or nearby, not based on Amazon’s poor pay. They will commute in. That said, I don’t see a problem with an industrial parcel being used for a distribution center.

  8. What better use of such a prime SOMA property could there be to allow Amazon to have a 6+ acre site so central located in San Francisco to allow 2 hour delivery and decimate whatever is left of SF’s small business retail and grocery economy after this Covid-19 mess.

    For a city that has done decades of efforts to keep out other much needed brick and mortar chain stores via SF’s only in the nation 11 store limit this just takes the cake.

  9. Good location for messing with drones. They can fly right up the creek channel without posing a risk to anyone on the ground, then follow the shoreline to reach many areas of the city with minimal time spent flying over land.

    Unless those irksome things are whisper-quiet and nearly invisible, I’m not looking forward to the day when any of this becomes a reality.

  10. Like they have implemented any protocols on environmental impacts such as private vehicles delivering all over the city or recycling all that packaging…. minimal efforts by Amazon max profits is there motto… expect there to be major negative impacts and max push back from citizens not happy with supreme leader bezos….

    1. The same thought crossed my mind, unfortunately, I highly doubt that will ever happen. Since much of the Caltrain corridor runs down a heavily industrial part of the city, it would make sense to utilize it, but I could see a lot of opposition from neighbors and it would be exceptionally expensive to build. Theres a track that connects the mainline to the San Francisco Bay Railway, but it runs on the street and has to deal with motorist. Union Pacific has complained several times that cars and trucks block the tracks forcing them to stop, I see that happening at this location as well.

    2. Possible though deliveries would need to be scheduled at night. During the day it will be difficult to schedule freight deliveries around the frequent CalTrain runs.

      1. Especially since Caltrain will be electrified. And if Caltrain got a waiver to bypass FRA freight collision safety when procuring its EMUs, freight can _never_ run when Caltrain is running.

    1. Not sure if you’re joking. Even under the scenario of rampant, unchecked carbon emissions this parcel will be high and dry 100 years from today. Sea level needs to rise 3 meters to inundate this area.

        1. Maybe, but in 2030 it will still be the top of the 1st. Nobody, absolutely nobody, is predicting 3m of sea rise by 2030.

          1. Liquefaction. It’s real. I’d take another look at your flood report, if you’re a broker on the deal as they’ve been updated.

  11. Darn. I always thought Carolina street should connect to Berry street. This property is currently a weird super block now.

    Amazon will push through their project with no real look at what’s right for the neighborhood.

  12. The actual sale price was $202,000,000. The seller’s agent did a good job, but Amazon might think about getting new brokerage representation.

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