CityPlace Showdown LoomingSan Francisco Business Times
August 21, 2010
Another big land use showdown is headed to the San Francisco Supes.
A few weeks after Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to approve the environmental impact for the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment, the legislative body is gearing up for a Sept. 7 vote on the CityPlace project in Mid-Market.
Of course CityPlace is a drop in the bucket compared to Hunters Point -- 250,000 square feet of retail versus 700 acres with more that 10,000 housing units. But it is seen by Mid-Market boosters as a best chance opportunity to finally bring meaningful change to the hard-luck blocks of Market Street between Fifth and Seventh streets.
The Planning Commission approved the certification of the project environmental study July 8th by a vote of 5-2, with a 6-1 approval on one of the related motions. But not everyone was happy. As Socketsite reported, nonprofits Livable City and Walk San Francisco have appealed the EIR certification on the grounds that the project has too much parking. The development proposes 167 parking spaces.
The developer, Urban Realty, argues that the type of retail it is proposing -- cost-sensitive value-based retailers -- specialize in the sort of bulky household items most San Franciscans currently drive to the suburbs to buy. And the amount of parking it is proposing, less than one spot per 1,000 square feet of retail space, is 20 to 25 percent of what most suburban retail malls offer.
In an interview a few weeks before the appeal was filed, Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich said there are 1,500 parking spaces within walking distance of CityPlace. "We want to see this area thrive but we don’t want to throw out our values as San Franciscans to see it thrive."
It should be an interesting vote. The CityPlace team has done a masterful job of building support. They have labor, neighborhood groups, and many key Tenderloin progressives like Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic . But the bike lobby and transit-first advocates have ample support and some of the progressive supervisors who were key supporters of the shipyard project -- David Campos, Ross Mirkarimi, and David Chiu -- will certainly feel at least some pressure to go against developer this time around.
CityPlace Showdown Looming