As you may recall, there was a meeting on Tuesday night during which the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) did the Big Reveal of their updated design for 1296 Shotwell, the nine-story housing development proposed for a site on Shotwell just north of Cesar Chavez. There’s a focus group happening in North Bernal on Monday, Aug. 29 to collect feedback on the new design (but more about that in a moment).
As you no doubt also recall, 1296 Shotwell is slated to become 90+ units of subsidized-affordable housing for senior citizens. The building will stand 85′ tall, or 20′ taller than current zoning allows. Given the visual prominence of the site, the proposal for 1296 Shotwell been the object of intense scrutiny, with some Bernal neighbors saying that the development just too tall, and others suggesting the height would be less of an issue if the Bernal-facing side of the building had a less austere design.
Both concerns were front and center during Tuesday’s meeting. The crowd at Tuesday’s meeting was small, with only about a dozen people attending, including several activists and project affiliates who were there to perform their roles as activists and project affiliates.
Most of the presentation was delivered by Susie Coliver of Herman Coliver Locus, the architectural firm leading the design for 1296 Shotwell. In response to community feedback, Coliver said her firm considered several alternate designs for 1296 Shotwell, including some that eliminated one or two stories from the building to mollify concerns about its exceptional height. The result, she said, was that while yes, the building did get a bit shorter, reducing a few floors didn’t really to much to make it feel much smaller from street level or North Bernal. Meanwhile, the height reductions significantly reduced the total number of housing units the building could potentially contain. In practical terms, here’s what those trade-offs would look like:
Thus, in the revised design,1296 Shotwell remains the same height: Nine stories, rising 85-feet from street level.
Instead, the new design focuses on rethinking the building’s southern, Bernal-facing facade, which is the side that may become a new landmark for the 9000 people who will gaze upon it daily from their homes on the north slope of Bernal Hill.
The new design reduces the number of units from 96 to 94 and attempts to add more color and texture to the south side of 1296 Shotwell, without relying upon superficial decoration such as murals, mosaics, or graphics. Highlights of the new design for the south side include:
- A stepped roofline to provide locations for several new roof gardens. This is intended to avoid the monolithic, rectangular massing of the old design. A roof garden running along the south side of the building would reduce the apparent height of the building by one story, when viewed from street-level
- There’s now a vertical column of windows in the center of the south facade, hidden behind laser-cut, enameled screen panels.
- The concrete panels flanking the windows on the left and right may also include alternating coloration, to provide additional texture.
When we zoom and enhance the rendering of the new design to focus on how all these elements come together, the Bernal-facing side of1296 Shotwell maybe possibly perhaps would look something like this (if the roof gardens were well maintained):
Compare and contrast, old design vs. new design:
And here’s another view of the new design, showing how 1296 Shotwell might look if you were a pigeon flying over the intersection of Cesar Chavez and South Van Ness. The proposed terracing of the roof decks is more clear from this angle:
During Tuesday’s meeting, additional concerns were raised about parking, shadows, and wind-tunnel effects caused by the building’s nine-story height. Responses were more or less as follows:
Parking: 1296 Shotwell has no onsite parking, and is not required to include any. MEDA suggested that the 150 or so senior citizens who will qualify to live in the building can’t really afford cars anyway.
Wind and Shadows: Basic wind and shadow studies for this site were conducted during a preliminary environmental impact review (EIR) 10 years ago. MEDA says a revised EIR is not required.
UPDATE: After publication, MEDA shared this clarification: “We have implemented an initial wind study and the report indicated that there would not be an adverse impact of generating wind tunnels; therefore, a further wind tunnel report is not necessary. As for shadow studies, Auto Zone, which is next door to the building, plans on putting solar panels on their roof and had requested plans from the team, and deemed that there are no adverse impacts to their installation. The Planning Department would determine if a full EIR would be needed — not the development team.”
Height: The current proposal for 1296 Shotwell is 20 feet taller than the 65′ maximum height that current zoning specifies for this site. MEDA says they plan to use the new Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP) to secure the necessary variance.
Project Timing: MEDA says they hope to complete the permitting for 1296 Shotwell in mid-2017 so construction can begin in late 2017. If that happens, occupancy would start in late 2019 or early 2020.
So that’s the latest plan.
Now that the new design has been revealed, MEDA will hold a “focus group” for Bernal residents to discuss the current proposal this Monday, and you are encouraged to attend:
1296 Shotwell Design Focus Group: Monday, August 29, 6pm to 7:30pm, Precita Eyes Mural Studio, 348 Precita Avenue