As we outlined a few years ago when the two-story garage on the northwest corner of Franklin and Pine, which had been identified as “one of the best examples of a public garage in San Francisco’s Historic Auto Row area, due to its longevity, integrity, and capacity,” hit the market positioned as an “excellent investment opportunity located in the highly desirable neighborhood,” the prominent corner parcel upon which the garage sits is zoned for development up to 130 feet in height.

Last month the garage was deeded to the EV San Francisco Holdings LLC. And if approved, the existing building will be converted into an EV charging and storage facility for Cruise’s driverless Taxi/Ride-Hailing service and program.

And while the planned conversion of the building would require the addition of electric charging infrastructure and other interior alterations, the exterior and height of the building would “not be altered or changed, and will be cleaned and preserved “in-kind,” at least for as long as EV charging is a thing.

35 thoughts on “Plans to Preserve Historic Garage and Site Zoned for More Height”
  1. Not to far away there are tenements that may “one of the best examples of a crack houses in San Francisco’s inner city, due to its longevity, integrity, and capacity,”

  2. I kind of want to understand what the planning interest was in “historic auto row.” Each one of these “historic” sites that is preserved (as a pastiche facade, or as here, as an underutlized location), robs the city of a desirable and transit rich development site. It’s just nuts.

    1. The planning interest was in preventing development so the city didn’t get “manhattanized.” It is functioning exactly as intended.

      1. I’m positive that anyone who uses the phrase ‘manhattanized’ has never been to manhattan.

        The streets are 60 feet wide with 100ft+ tall unbroken streetwalls, punctuated by taller towers.

        The closest SF gets to that is Montgomery, and no one has proposed development that even *sort of* looks like that since 1930.

        What that term really does is remind people of a disorienting tourist experience as a means to hamper development.

        1. No. The residents of S.F. using the term “Manhattanization” since the 1970’s are not using it in the way you describe and the tourist experience difference isn’t the reason it caught on.

          What they were getting at is that Manhattan is the most densely populated of New York City’s boroughs; developers had their way for literally decades…as you point out, tall and supertall towers were built are all over the place and it is still a completely unafffordable place to live for the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers. This is simply inarguable.

          The conclusion that most people who did not move here to make their fortune in Real Estate came to at the time is that a city can’t, as a practical matter, build it’s way out of a housing shortage, and San Francisco was better off quelling the greed-fueled fever dreams of those people who moved here to realize their dreams of avarice by making property more expensive.

          One major thing that’s changed since the 1990’s is that there are more flippers, developers, and other hangers-on in the real estate “game” who have arrived here from elsewhere with dollar signs in their eyes, ready to exploit S.F. workers by jacking up the pricing of housing so they can escape with their “winnings” to early retirement in Texas or Florida.

          1. Cities are expensive. Rich people want to live in cities. See: San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Tokyo, Singapore, and so forth.

          2. Do you actually know of a single arriviste SF developer type who came here, crushed it, and retired to Texas or Florida? Doesn’t strike me as a thing, that.

          3. All the ones I am acquainted with have come here, say they are stilll crushing it, and so have not retired yet, but they none of them are shy about saying they plan to move out to Texas or Florida once they do.

            It most certainly is a thing.

          4. Amen. These developers/speculators/economic tourists have even created their own luxury condo-focused political party, the YIMBY. Hoping their tide recedes under current economic conditions.

          5. I’m in it, and I don’t think that’s a thing. But you, who are not, know enough people doing it who are sharing life plans with you and giving you the skinny on their various projects and retirement destinations and whatnot?

          6. If you just look at the before-and-after prices it looks like the “flippers” are making bank. In reality I think the margins are actually pretty thin. But to see that you have to know a lot more about the cost of capital, transaction fees, unforeseeable risks, and of course paying the contractors and vendors actually doing the renovation. You know, the guys with the beat up pickup trucks, covered in dust, sore muscles and ears ringing from the power tools. You want to add them to your list of “hangers-on in the real estate game who have arrived from elsewhere with dollar signs in their eyes, ready to exploit S.F. workers” et cetera?

          7. I have never met anyone in SF real estate who tells me of their plan to make it big here then skip out to Florida or Texas. I know a lot of people in SF real estate who are SF natives born and raised.

        2. Only the cross streets, the “Avenues” – upon which many/most of the buildings face – are 100′. And SF isn’t much different – Market is ~120′ and the named streets are 68’9″….so not a whole lot different. But your point is?

          People didn’t like the post war change in scale from 15-30 story/100-200Kgsf buildings to the 30-50 story/500K-1M+gsf buildings. You’re free to disagree, of course, but patronizing comments about how your’re “positive” about what isn’t true say more about your ignorance than that of whom you write.

          1. Brahma,

            I know lots of people who aren’t from here came for work/opportunity not as “flippers” but in other professions. They happily bought newly finished houses to live in. So, it seems to me there are the proportionate amount of “flippers” “who have arrived here from elsewhere” as there are people who arrived here from elsewhere for other jobs.

            If SF mandated only LOCALS can work on houses in SF how would that work out? Also with your anti native stance, I assume you are from here. Right? Otherwise you are the problem more so than the non-native “flipper”, right?

  3. As a resident, this is ridiculous.

    As a landlord, this is awesome! I am delighted to see more barriers put up to more housing. Let us all preserve all the old garages forever! The last thing I want is to see lots of new housing. Keep rent high, so that my kids will have a lifelong financial cushion.

  4. This is no worse than residential rent control or formula retail controls or prohibitions in unit mergers and additions. Most residents just want the city to remain as it is and have everyone else move to Stockton.

    1. > Most residents just want the city to remain as it is

      That’s just projection just like when people say “everyone has selfish interests” when trying to justify indefensible actions. At least rent control advocates have people in mind. This is just car-centric bs to keep the population down.

      1. Most city residents like having cars to drive around in just like they enjoy paying below market rents.

        The system is set up to preserve the incumbent population. It’s the way our version of the market works.

        1. Ha. Great point. As if 1990s and earlier arrivistes and legacy renters don’t also love their cars.

  5. Is there any reason to believe that this site would have had more trouble obtaining residential entitlements than any of the dozens of other historic garages that have been redeveloped to multifamily? This seems to be an example of the buyer willing to pay the most money determining how the property will be used. I don’t see how anyone who supports the “free market” could object.

    1. You underestimate the ability of people to rationalize their complaining.
      (The “free market” is working only so long as the outcome meets the preconception of what’s “right”; if not a conspiracy theory is created about how some gov’t policy really forced this to happen)

  6. A city that detests automobiles, yet preserves a “historic auto row” to the detriment of adding more housing. Truly San Francisco…

  7. We are never going to significantly diminish car use in SF. It’s a fantasy to think that will happen, certainly not in our lifetimes. More use may transition to shared or hired vehicles from privately-owned vehicles, but many people are still going to get around by car.

    And battery electric vehicles need charging space. They have to spend a lot of time charging, that’s just the reality. If BEVs become popular with the masses, we are going to need lots more space dedicated to charging them, because many (perhaps most?) drivers in SF park on the street and will need to charge somewhere else. The amount of real estate required to charge BEVs at scale is staggering.

    So get used to this sort of project, there will be more of them.

    1. that’s exactly right, because when we aren’t driving around in cars, we fold them up and tuck them away, so they take zero space just sitting around. If we had to PARK those cars somewhere for the 95% of they time they aren’t being used, the amount of space it would take is staggering!

      or we could just plug them in when they’re parked, unused…

  8. I live in this neighborhood. Cruise currently uses a garage on California (IIRC) as a charging and possibly testing station. If you’ve ever walked past the garage with the traffic light in the back, underneath the defunct healthcare startup, that’s currently a Cruise facility.

    My wild, unsubstantiated guess is this is a short term change of use, motivated by Cruise being kicked out of their current building, possibly to prep it for redevelopment.

  9. Cool, as SF already 86’d the majority of gas stations. EVs are desperately needed, and charging infrastructure is a key component.

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