While (downsized) plans for redeveloping the burned-out Verdi Building at 659 Union Street, between Columbus and Powell, in the heart of North Beach, have been drawn and permits requested, the project has effectively been on hold, as has any redevelopment of the adjacent parking garage parcel at 1636 Powell Street.

At the same time, a permit to start demolishing the burned-out Verdi building was requested earlier this year but subsequently flagged by Planning and put on hold, as the application, as submitted, could have allowed the entire building to have been surreptitiously demolished and the project team having agreed to preserve the Verdi Building’s three street-facing walls.

And the “partially demolished” Verdi Building and adjacent garage are now on the market as an un-entitled 18,000-square-foot development site, “at the epicenter of San Francisco’s historic North Beach neighborhood,” with “flexible zoning” that “permits a wide variety of uses: residential, retail, hotel, entertainment, student housing, EV charging, and more.”  We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

18 thoughts on “Prominent North Beach Building (Site) on the Market”
  1. It’s beyond nuts that we let small neighborhood groups veto density in their downtown, central, transit rich neighborhoods for vague reasons.

    This would pencil out much better if it were twice as big.

    1. North Beach is dense. And it’s a neighborhood with neighborhood character already in place. And lots of history. If someone wants a 20-story building then look elsewhere in the city. However, it boggles my mind that the Central Subway built a tunnel from Chinatown to North Beach merely to extract a boring machine without adding a station in one of the areas of the city that needs it the most. (I know the reason why.)

      1. Yes, ending the central subway in Chinatown was one of Muni’s epic fails. Though they may not have had funds for an extra station for North Beach, they could have at least taken the tunnel boring machine out via a ground level portal towards Pier 39. Then leave the segment between Chinatown and NB undeveloped but shored up enough that it can be taken out of the mothballs when future funding becomes available to build a NB station and perhaps an extension to the tourist areas on Bay.

        Paying the incremental cost of extending the tunnel less than a half mile would have paid off big time in the future. But now we will have to pay for yet another tunnel boring machine and the related insertion and extraction costs all over again, just for less than a half mile.

    2. There is a park directly across the street, due north. No one is going to let them build this twice as big, nor should they, due to the shadows it would throw onto the park.
      That extra height near the back in the rendering is all they are going to get. The neighborhood groups have nothing to do with this project’s size.

      1. There is not in fact a park due north of this site. Washington Square is northeast. This parcel could be 70 feet tall without shading Washington Square even at 2pm on the winter solstice. And it should be that tall, or a bit higher.

        1. The trees on the bottom left of the first photo are part of Washington Square, which extends across Columbus and forms a little triangle there. You can see the shadows aiming right for that part of the park.

          1. I guess the question is whether/not this is really part of the Square. You might say “of course it is” – it’s the very corner that makes the Square square (or rectangular, actually) – and I believe Columbus was cut thru after it has been established (hence it ‘s part of the original space); but right now it seems more like an annex…a fenced off, oversized planter box.

          2. While that little fenced off exclave of Washington Park is surely city parkland, it really doesn’t function as a park because no humans hang out there. The main thrust of the shadow ordinance is to protect sunlight falling on places where people recreate in parks. Residents lose very little if anything by adding shadow to this little triangle though this being SF, I’m sure someone has a contrived argument.

          3. It’s a fenced-off and overgrown remnant of the original, before the street was cut through. It is not “a park” unless you are a rodent. I’m also really curious about your beliefs regarding places like Oslo and Helsinki, whether you have an absolutist position on shadows or what.

    1. This is the site of the Peskin eruption.

      Telegraph Hill Dwellers would be such a better group if it could let this be twice as big. But as it is, they and others will extract com$$ion$ from any developer who wants to build here. And as a result it will be half as small and twice as expensive to use this prime lot.

    1. Yes, he had a drinking problem that he acknowledged and is now sober. What’s you’re point, other than smear tactics?

      1. Can’t think of many other jobs where you don’t get fired for being drunk at work. There are zoom videos of him obviously drunk during public meetings.

  2. You all keep going on about Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and while his behavior during the fire was reprehensible, I don’t think where we are roughly five years afterwards, it matters as much as the cause of the fire itself. Please point us to reporting about the cause of the fire or the results of The SFFD’s investigation if you’re going to post hyperlinks.
    According to San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Baxter quoted the week of the fire, the building had 27 vacant residential units at the time, during the height of what folks around here pimping for developers and flippers term “S.F.’s housing crisis.” Perhaps the building’s owner decided that a little strategic arson was in order and the insurance payout was more than the revenue generated by the five businesses operating there, including Coit Liquors and Rogue Ales San Francisco Public House, from rents.

    1. So, those vacant units were rent controlled. The tenants were displaced during a previous fire. As long as they went unrepaired and uninhabitable, the building’s owners (a very large family of co-owners) could wait for the tenants to give up or die off—and the apartments could one day be rented out at market rate. This is greed, but not developer greed so much as that of the common slumlord. The fire started in the restaurant’s kitchen.

  3. Seems like this site would be a good candidate for a future North Beach subway station. Very close to the TBM extraction site (“Palace at Washington Square”) and it almost certainly sits adjacent to the already-constructed tunnels. Maybe the City should buy this site?

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