Opened in 1975 and shuttered by the pandemic, the Royal Oak bar and two-story building at 2201 Polk Street, on the northwest corner of Polk and Vallejo, hit the market listed for $8.5 million last year.

While the Royal Oak doesn’t appear to have sold, or at least closed escrow, and no plans for “2201 Polk Street” have been submitted to the City for review, plans for a 6-story building, with 15 residential units over 5,348 square feet of ground floor retail and a parking garage for cars to rise at “1506 Vallejo Street” have been drafted.

And while the plans for “1506 Vallejo Street” might seem a bit ambitious, considering the address is tied to a little 550-square-foot building, the little building happens to sit on the same corner parcel as the two-story building at 2201 Polk Street, a single parcel with two addresses which is zoned for development up to 65 feet in height.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

16 thoughts on “Surreptitious Plans to Fell The Royal Oak”
  1. Excellent news. These 1 and 2 story commercial buildings are our best hope at solving the housing crisis as it’s a pure business transaction, not a sentimental one (demolishing housing).

    Demolish, rebuild the commercial space but with lots of new housing on top, and bring in all that new tax revenue.

        1. Like any of cookie cutter units being built are going to be affordable. Not so much a crisis if you can afford market rate.

    1. PP, do you really believe “1 and 2 story commercial buildings are our best hope at solving the housing crisis” ? I think you are going it alone on that belief.

      I have been a residential real estate developer on the northside of SF for 30 years and I am very skeptical. This proposed building seems like a big mistake on several levels.

  2. I’m a pro-housing advocate but I find the corner building quaint and hope it survives. The juxtaposition between big and small, old and new, makes cities interesting and desirable.

    1. I think you’re confused on what a pro-housing advocate is. Also, the corner building is a borderline blight on the neighborhood. It’s not maintained and as a business was barely open before the pandemic. The owner would randomly open on a sparse, sporadic schedule. It’s a beautiful corner and I hope it gets utilized better.

  3. The vast majority of San Francisco is quaint, residential streets with small buildings. That’s not changing anytime soon. These commercial corridors are the only shot we’ve got at meaningfully building new housing. I agree with your POV in principle, but we’re about three decades too late for it.

    1. Maybe you intended to write “building meaningfully large numbers of new condo units”.

      If it were true that “…commercial corridors are the only shot we’ve got at meaningfully building new housing”, then the State legislature wouldn’t have had to impose what is effectively a rezoning of all the residential housing areas zoned for single-family homes in The City (under the guise of addressing the so-called “housing crisis”). But Senate Bill 9 does exactly that, so it is plainly obvious that there are other ways to obtain meaningful amounts of new housing and therefore replacing small buildings in these commercial corridors are not the only shot we’ve got. That doesn’t even take into account the oversupply of office space in large commercial buildings that are sitting there, vacant, that capitalists should be converting to residential uses.

      1. Note the word “meaningfully” building new housing. Yes, there are ADU’s, and yes there is re-zoning of SFH’s. But I’d be willing to bet over 90% of the housing built in the last 10 years in SF was formerly a commercial lot of some sort which became a condo/apt building.

        To your point about SB9, I think it’s great. I’m just not that confident it’s going to pan out. Huge swaths of the city are already zoned as multi-family (Castro, Mission, Panhandle, Richmond etc) and you rarely see a SFH demolished for a multi-family building.

  4. Interesting how this lively stretch of Polk Street has kept its identity over the years. Ideally a new corner building would respect the street with a fine grain design and a modest height – and without voracious floor to ceiling windows of new Polk Street buildings, such as recent between Polk and Hemlock, which always seem to be looking out for more than the streetscape can give back.

    From the San Francisco Public Library history room:

    1. i would consider 8-10 stories as modest for this commercial corridor corner. and a nice 6 floor building next to it would add nice step down and variety on height

  5. Ah, too bad – The Royal Oak was always one of my favorite bars back in the 90’s. For myself and a lot of other single guys, we always considered it a “target rich” environment.

    1. The Royal Oak definitely looked like a worn out fern bar by the time it shuttered. As did the Lion Pub a few blocks west, which had gone from gay bar to pickup bar to desolate by the time I stopped in for a poorly-made Manhattan a few weeks before it closed.

      It’s the circle of nightlife.

  6. UPDATE: With the address for the project application having been changed to 2201 Polk Street following our report, the application now appears to have been withdrawn. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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