Plans to raze the 22-foot-tall World Gym and office building, which fronts De Haro from 15th to 16th Streets, in the design district at the base of Potrero Hill, have been drafted.

As envisioned by Aralon Properties and massed below, a 5-story laboratory building would rise up to 68 feet in height upon the Showplace Square site which is zoned for PDR (Production, Distribution and Repair) use.

And in addition to 180,000 square feet of lab space, the development as proposed includes a basement garage for 130 cars, with a storage room for 19 bikes and a 17,800-square-foot roof deck for the building’s tenants.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

45 thoughts on “Design District Lab Development on the Boards”
  1. 130 cars sounds like a *lot*. This area is so close to Caltrain, has a new transit investment being made on 16th street. Is close to 3rd street central subway. Why a 130 car garage?

      1. I would prefer to be carried by royal palanquin- where is my palanquin parking? Seriously though, what really sticks out are the 19 bike parking slots for the entire building.

        1. I suppose you could make a protest sign and stand out front. You could protest by not using the services or product this building might offer. Or commenting might save the Earth, too.

      2. “You can’t impose your preferences on others.”

        Something no one in the Planning Department believes even a tiny bit. And maybe for the best.

          1. No, that’s the point.

            The Planning Department are the few, with the agenda they chart, on which there is only the public input from “Charette” sessions and the like. The community as a whole is how they say it is.

    1. It’s a mile to 4th and King, through a sketchy area. Same to get to the 3rd St stop in front of the Chase Center. Many people, especially women, don’t want to do that, for safety as well as time/hassle reasons.

      16th St is a bus line moving very slowly through the Mission, Lower Haight, and Pac Heights. This helps, but only for a small number of people living very close to the line.

      The reality is that it will be very hard for a biotech company to hire folks in the Peninsula / South Bay / East Bay and many portions of SF without parking.

      1. It’s a chicken or egg scenario, no? That area is car centric because it was designed to be that way. If we design it to be more transit, bike, and pedestrian friendly, then the buses won’t be as slow and the street environment won’t be as sketchy. But we’ll never get there if we’re investing in parking garages instead of transit and people scaled infrastructure.

        1. Yes and no. Yes, we need to design it to be transit-friendly…see my comment below about having a Caltrain stop close by. I’m all for more protected bikes lanes, faster buses / BRT as well.

          I don’t think it’s an either/or, though – you can have BRT, Caltrain, protected bike lanes and still have a parking garage. It just all needs to be designed / integrated well. And *if* you get all of those transit implementations done, then with a straight face you can reject the parking garage because there is a viable alternative.

      2. There is a stop a short block away for the 55 Dogpatch, which directly serves the 22nd Street Caltrain station. No need to walk to 4th and King though an increasingly activated, populated and safe stretch if you don’t want to.

      3. The 22 just got a major upgrade with bus lanes along this section, and it’s coming to the Mission stretch soon.

    2. Have you ever been on MUNI? Depended on MUNI? Walked that neighborhood at night? Doesn’t sound like it. Also, the main Caltrain station is a good 20 mins away. I ride MUNI all the time and are an environmentalist but I am not against car parking specially in these type of developments.

      1. Maybe it’s because this site’s readership is real estate-adjacent (i.e., affluent), but I’m astonished by all this dismissal of public transportation. The 22 and 55 stop is 200 feet away. The 22 has been running all day 6-10 minute intervals during the pandemic, and is ultimately slated for the five-minute network as part of ConnectSF.

        This is a perfectly fine, reliable, frequent transit route. Very dark sign for our city if it’s truly beneath all of you commenters to even consider riding it.

        1. How many people does the 22 or 55 serve? If you’re not very close to the line, how does it serve you?If you’re advocating for a walk to a bus line, take a bus, transfer to the 22, then walk from the 22 to your office, you don’t understand how people value their time.

          This is why public transportation is in a death spiral. Personal cars + Uber/Lyft provide complete door to door service, hyper efficiently, and the utmost comfort and security. Public transport rarely does all of those things. It’s sad but true.

          1. Transferring between buses and trains is pretty easy. Signed: a person without a car who takes muni everywhere.

            As for a “death spiral” literally the only reason you could say one exists (and you would be wrong anyways), is because of covid-19 scaring people away from public transit. Usage was fine before that, and is picking up again now as things open up and people get vaccinated.

          2. Personal cars are almost the least efficient transportation mode possible. Convenient perhaps but definitely not efficient.

          3. Death spiral ? No. But not much growth either, particularly given population increases during the past quarter century…and of course things may have deteriorated b/w 2016 and 2019

        2. I’ll be perfectly honest, I am happy to pay taxes to support Muni and BART (I always vote for the bonds, etc.), and I used to frequently use both systems. I also always encourage public transit projects to be built in other cities. But, even before I switched to a job where I work from home (some years before the pandemic), I mostly gave up on taking public transportation (and there are several buses that go by my residence).

          My spouse has to drive to work in the South Bay, but I just switched first to cabs and then Uber/Lyft. I had too many bad experiences and it was worth it to me to just pay to get a ride (and also walk part of the way) to avoid the hassle and negative experience, and I would still pay, even if the price were double.

    3. Yeah, it’s not clear to me how many people will be working here – is there a good employees/sf rule of thumb for lab space? – but 7 times as many car spaces as bike spaces is clearly upside down. And we just built bus lanes here as part of a major upgrade for the 22, which was already pretty solid – I ride it frequently.

  2. I know, I”m hand-waving here, but Caltrain needs to add a stop at 16th St. It would serve UCSF, the Chase Center, and Mission Bay directly, with some adjacent access to Design District / the Mission.

    I don’t know the numbers, but the 22nd St stop seems to be in No-Man’s Land. Same for Bayshore. Those stops don’t make any sense to me.

    1. In the last few years, ridership at 22nd St has been going up markedly and the train regularly filled up there. Granted, we don’t know how far people are going to get there but it was definitely heavily used until recently. This isn’t to say 16th St wouldn’t be a better location in lieu.

    2. A stop at 16th will pretty much certainly never happen because it’s too close to the 4th & King and 22nd stops for a system like Caltrain, even once it is electrified and if it moves to more frequent all day service. The area around the 22nd St station has densified significantly and will continue to do so — both on the Potrero Hill and Dogpatch sides if 280. The long term wild card is the DTX. I believe aligning the tunnel under Pennsylvania starting back just south of 25th was selected as the preferred alternative in part because it’s the only way to eliminate the street crossings at 16th and at Mission Bay Drive.

      1. In a perfect world, 16th would be built, and 22nd would be shifted down more to 25th to serve the growth in Dogpatch.

        1. None of them make sense, frankly, vis-a-vis Caltrain’s service. It’d be like Metro North leaving Grand Central and then stopping at 60th St. and 72nd St. (whereas in actuality the first Metro North stop is 125th St. / Harlem). I think a better solution would be to run short shuttles between 4th and King (or, some time after 2082 or so, Transbay) and the next “big” stop, probably South S.F. or San Bruno. The shuttle could stop in multiple locations and gather people, allowing the “main line” service to have fewer stops (and hence faster service).

  3. Going forward for the foreseeable future this is the only type on major non-residential developments that will get built in SF. The focus is on biotech/lab space. The Giants and their partner are going to tweak portions of their Mission Rock project to accommodate biotech. It’s a wise play even though SF is not tax friendly to biotech. SSF/the Peninsula and Oakland/Emeryville will get the lion’s share of new biotech projects.

    The Supervisors recently held a meeting about the moribund state of the financial district and SOMA. Very few solutions were offered. Convert empty downtown retail to non-profit use was one – in some cases supporting the homeless and low income population. Nary a word about he tax situation which the City needs to look at/rectify in hopes of making SF more appealing to the biotech industry.

    1. im generally against a lot of parking, but if SF wants to lure biotech labs away from SSF, parking will be needed in new labs in neighborhoods like this. Its too unsafe for walking from transit and labs are generally open early/late. people in Life science are generally older than tech

    2. SOMA and FiDi are moribund because the city has christened them Tenderloin 2.0, packed with housing for the “formerly homeless” who spend their days getting high and making a mess of things from 11th to 5th street. The sidewalks are skinny the streets wide and “traffic calmed” meaning jammed. There’s nothing green. Just concrete and wind. The city ruined SOMA and throwing in an open air 24/7/365 opioid emporium put a bow on it.

      1. Just delusional from top to bottom. There is no measure by which FiDi or SOMA can be accurately characterized as being “packed” with housing for the formerly homeless.

  4. Is it just me or are all of these developers in the last 9 months just calling commercial buildings “labs” because it sounds better? They’re still office space/PDR, no?

    I totally get that the workspace has shifted away from non-essential but it just seems ineffectual.

    1. Labs are different from offices….plumbing, electrical, ventilation, infrastructure are all required and many labs need to meet ISO standards. Not to mention floor weight of equipment which is more than a few copywriters on exercise balls with macbooks.

    2. Building of office space is restricted, building of lab/PDR space is not. Big difference in vacancy rates too.

    3. No. These developers are looking for tenants and certainly any major new development that breads ground in SF will have to be biotech at this time. That entails a certain type of construction and space layout. It’s why the large majority of the almost 17 million feet of empty office space can’t be converted to biotech. You can’t just label it biotech and make it so. Hence the Mission Rock project is changing the designs of some of its unbuilt office development to accommodate the life sciences.

  5. Will the city be able to get out of their own way on this is the real question given that it’s an impossibility that they would actually successfully facilitate this type of use by expediting the projects. It is that simple, put good planners on them, oversight from London, keep the lunatics in the asylum on the given Thursday and collect the taxes…….. That’s what Fauci would do.

  6. I’ve always felt this little area was underserved, both in terms of housing and in newer commercial. I’m excited every time there’s a project proposed along 16th or within the “Design District” and nearly drool at the idea of it being a more dense connection between Dogpatch / Mission Bay and the Mission. So many opps for infill.

    1. OMG, I haven’t seen him in awhile. I hope he sticks around. I will say, I do miss my old gym. (Former World Gym member here.)

    2. I know exactly who you mean! My co-workers and I call him “creepy scary walking guy.” Do not get in his way!

      The sad thing is he has been exercising for decades and is still not in shape. Too many beer busts.

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