San Francisco’s Planning Department has completed its preliminary review of Brookfield Properties’ proposed Master Plan for redeveloping the 41-acre Stonestown site, a plan which would yield around 2,900 new residential units; up to 200,000 square feet of new office space; a 200-room hotel; and an additional 200,000 square feet of new retail and amenity space wrapped around the Stonestown Galleria to form a new “town center” and neighborhood. And while mostly supportive, Planning does have some notes and concerns.
From Planning’s Preliminary Assessment of Brookfield’s plans which was just sent to the project team:
The project sponsor should continue to refine the Project Vision to ensure the site becomes a true town center that is supported by walkable blocks and neighborhood services. The vision should respond to community feedback and needs, inspire the site design, strengthen community identity, and express a unique sense of place.
While the Department is supportive of the overall vision, we are concerned that the proposed site plan is not completely aligned with the vision. In particular, the proposed site plan appears to strengthen the large singular and contiguous footprint of the existing mall structure, dividing the site into two separated communities with a lack of robust and clear east-west connections.
The site plan should further explore establishing more significant and clear connections across and through the mall, as well as anticipate the possibility that the mall may be removed or reconfigured in the future, ensuring the current mall structure does not inhibit a walkable, connected community in both the near and long-term. The Department strongly recommends reconsidering the proposed grid to provide clearer and more generous east-west connections at street level and a framework of smaller, walkable blocks.
With respect to the proposed residential development, below market rate (BMR) mix and building heights of up to 190 feet on the site (which is currently only zoned for development up to 65 feet in height):
Given that the proposed project is seeking zoning changes that would significantly exceed the allowable heights under current zoning and greater flexibility than the strict application of the current controls, the proportion of new units that are below-market rate should also exceed current Inclusionary Affordable Housing requirements.
The Inclusionary Affordable Housing requirements for the project as proposed would require 20.5% of the rental units, and 22.5% of the condos, to be offered at below market rates (BMR). And given the demographic composition of the surrounding community, the Department is recommending the team focus on BMR housing for seniors and families and explore a potential partnership with SF State “to provide housing for students and faculty members on SF State property.”
In terms of the unit mix overall, “at least 30 percent of the units should be 2 bedroom[s] and 10 percent of the units should be 3-bedroom units, as is consistent with comparable zoning districts.” Given the high rate of ground floor commercial vacancies in San Francisco, “especially coming out of the pandemic, the Department recommends careful consideration of the amount of [proposed] retail,” and that the proposed retail be designed to be “adaptable to other community serving uses or active ground floor residential uses,” “such as social service centers, art studios, and space for non-profit community organizations, educational programs and classes.” And the integration of a public recreation center into the project site is being encouraged as well.
And while Planning “supports keeping a flexible land use program that include a small amount of office space for small professional services firms that serve the local population such as accounting, law, architecture and design, social services and non-profits,” “the Department believes the full proposed maximum 200,000 [Gross Square Feet] of office space is an excessive amount in aggregate and does not align with the project’s programmatic or physical vision of creating a neighborhood town center.”
Once again, Brookfield is aiming to complete the required environmental and design reviews over the next two years, secure approvals, and break ground on the $2 billion redevelopment sometime around 2024, with a phased development of the new condos, apartments and commercial buildings. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.