SF Chronicle - Saturday, June 16, 2012
We can't say if Market Street will ever become "San Francisco's Champs-Élysées," as former Mayor Gavin Newsomonce envisioned, but there are major changes afoot. And we're not just talking about Mid-Market, which has garnered much of the attention lately.
Further west, on the other side of Civic Center, a veritable construction boom is taking place.
Last week, shoring and excavation work was being conducted at Market and Dolores streets, where S&C Ford once stood. In its place, by September of next year, will be an 82-unit residential complex anchored by a 30,000-square-foot Whole Foods.
Two months later, assuming construction remains on schedule, 113 new apartments, along with 5,500 square feet of retail space and an underground garage, will have been built at Market and Octavia streets, where a small retail center used to be.
One block away, at a former Union 76 gas station at Market and Buchanan, ground will be broken this month on another mixed-use development, this one featuring 115 apartments.
All told there are five projects, accounting for approximately 450 new rental units, under construction or in the groundbreaking stage on Market Street between Castro and Octavia.
"It's not near the size and scale of Mid-Market, but we're going to see a lot more people on the street, during the day and at night, which is really good for the area," said Dan Safier, president of San Francisco's Prado Group, which is developing the Market and Dolores project.
In particular, the relatively empty area between Dolores and Octavia "will become a much more significant hub of the neighborhood," said San Francisco SupervisorScott Wiener, who represents the district. With the accompanying new streetscaping, "it will be much more walkable and vibrant."
With several more mixed-use projects in the planning and permit pipeline, Upper Market will have up to 1,500 new rental units in the next five years, says Peter Cohen, board member of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, which keeps close tabs on commercial development in the area. "And there'll be a lot of new retail coming online," he said.
CVS/pharmacy, which has one outlet on nearby Castro Street, is taking over a larger space at Market and Noe in early 2014. Add that to its existing Market Street store, at Third Street, and a third, scheduled to open in August, at Market and Second.
Starbucks is seeking a permit to open up at Market and Sanchez streets. Another beverage chain, Los Angeles-based The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, has signed a letter of intent to open a store over the road from the future CVS/pharmacy, above Gold's Gym.
Bank of the West, meanwhile, is looking to open a 3,300-square-foot branch to fill what locals refer to as "the Hole-in-the Ground" - a 31-year-old vacant lot - at Market and 16th streets, the site of another mixed-used development in progress. On the eastern end of the strip, the San Francisco regional bank - owned by France's BNP Paribas - is scheduled to open a "wealth management client center" at 555 Market St. in the Financial District next month.
However, the bank is getting pushback from residents concerned about the amount of "formula retail" entering the neighborhood. A permit hearing scheduled for last Thursday before the city's Planning Commission was put off until July 12.
As welcome as the developments on Upper Market are, said Cohen, there's also concern that rents, already formidably high, will increase even more and change the residential makeup of the neighborhood.
"One of the consequences may be further gentrification," he said. "I'm just offering a cautionary note."
Andrew S. Ross is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Blogging: www.sfgate.com/columns/bottomline E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @andrewsross Facebook page: sfg.ly/doACKM