We’ve known for some time that lots of new housing is coming to the block of Cesar Chavez between South Van Ness and Shotwell — an area that sits right at the foot of Bernal Heights, on a plot of land that’s rather high-profile to anyone who looks down upon it from homes on Bernal’s north slope.
On the site of the garage workshops at 1296 Shotwell, a nine-story affordable housing development for senior citizens is in the works. Meanwhile, on the adjacent property at 1515 South Van Ness, the former site of McMIllan Electric (which was, before that, the the glamorous showroom for Lesher-Muirhead Oldsmobile) is set to become a 157 unit mixed-income apartment building. This week, firm renderings were published for both projects.
This is good, because our economy is booming and our population is growing, but housing costs are batshit crazy because we haven’t built nearly enough new housing to accommodate all 864,816 of our fellow San Franciscans. Some high-density, mixed-income housing is just the thing to address that problem, but both these projects will have hurdles to overcome.
Let’s start with 1296 Shotwell. Here’s how the site looked yesterday:
Fashionable! Replacing all this, 1296 Shotwell will become a nine-tory development with 96 affordable units for seniors. SocketSite says it will also be home to 5,000 square feet of community and office space and 5,500 square feet of outdoor space. Here’s how it’ll look on the building’s Bernal-facing south side:
And here’s the proposed site plan:
But about that whole nine-story thing…
1296 Shotwell will be 85 feet tall. For seasoned north-slopers, it’s not too difficult to visualize what a nine-story building will look like on that site; it’ll be just a little taller than the landmark 1940s-era Telco Building on 25th and Capp:
The Telco Building is eight stories, so 1296 Shotwell will be one taller. And what would that look like?
Here’s a crude mockup of a nine-story, 85-foot version of the Telco Building, transposed on the site of 1296 Shotwell. The proposed building would look thinner and more contemporary, but the height of the building rise on the horizon roughly like this:
That’s where things get sticky. SocketSite explains:
As noted in the City’s preliminary review of the project plans, which were drafted by Herman Coliver Locus Architecture, [1296 Shotwell] is currently only zoned for development up to 65 feet in height.
As such, the 1296 Shotwell Street parcel will either have to be legislatively upzoned or the City’s proposed Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP) will need to be passed in order for the development to proceed. Once approved and permitted, it will take another two years to build.
Urp. The Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) is one of the nonprofits leading the effort to develop 1296 Shotwell, and MEDA has become synonymous with the Mission District’s progressive political machine. That should help 1296 Shotwell quell some of the usual anti-housing protest antics, but the height issue will be more complicated. Here too, however, MEDA probably has the political connections to secure the variances 1296 Shotwell requires. And with luck, one hopes the mural on the Bernal-facing side of the building will be easy on the eyes.
Meanwhile, the computer-rendering gods have also given us a picture of what is envisioned for 1515 South Van Ness, on the northwest corner of the block. Here’s how it snuggles in alongside 1296 Shotwell:
1515 South Van Ness will be a six-story, 157-unit market-rate development, and the current plans show it looking like this, as envisioned on the corner of Shotwell and 26th Street, looking southwest:
The renderings for 1515 South Van Ness don’t include the nine-stories of 1296 Shotwell, so remember that 1296 Shotwell will rise nine-stories above this near the left side of the image. Also remember: This is what this location looks like today (and wave hello to Bernal Hil)l:
SocketSite has additional details about 1515 South Van Ness:
As designed by BDE Architecture, the proposed development will rise to a height of 65-feet along South Van Ness, stepping down to five stories and 55-feet in height at the corner of 26th and Shotwell.
In addition to a corner 1,100 square foot retail space at Van Ness, the latest plans include six small “trade shop” spaces along 26th Street (and an underground garage for 81 cars and 150 bikes).
And if approved, the development will take roughly two years to build, and 12 percent of the 157 apartments will be offered at below market rates.
The developer behind 1515 South Van Ness is Lennar Urban, the urban-housing arm of megadeveloper Lennar Corporation. By way of comparison, Lennar is the opposite of MEDA is just about every way, because Lennar is a big, nationwide, publicly-traded firm focused on market-rate housing development. That said, Lennar Urban may have what it takes to deal with the Mission’s notorious aversion to housing development and the professional activists who will inevitably find things to dislike in the current proposal.
Lennar is also building housing at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and on Treasure Island – feats which required successfully navigating US Navy bureaucracy, multiple administrations in San Francisco’s City Hall, a nasty mix of toxics left behind by the Navy’s Cold War nuclear-test programs, and Aaron Peskin. Ultimately, Lennar was not deterred by the radioactive swamps of Hunter’s Point or the USS Pandemonium on Treasure Island, so it will be interesting to see how they fare when confronted with the theatrics of the those who prefer to deal with our housing shortage by opposing the creation of more housing.
IMAGES: Renderings and site plans, via the incomparable SocketSite