The grit of the crime-ridden 16th and Mission BART plaza, could one day shine with $82 million worth of glass.
A developer submitted preliminary plans for 351 new condos with the San Francisco Planning Department on October 18.
To make room for the new buildings, which are described as between five and ten stories in the Preliminary Project Assessment, the developer plans to raze several businesses, including Walgreens, Burger King and Hwa Lei Market. A nightclub and a vacant Dollar Store on the site would also go.
The owner of Hwa Lei Market, Cung Duong, said he has known about the re-development plans for almost a year. “All my family’s money is here, I don’t know what I’d do,” said Duong about the possible closure of his shop. “We like this area, it’d be hard to do a new business.”
The communications coordinator at the SF Planning Department, Candace SooHoo, said that the project was in the very preliminary stages and the documents filed last week will likely undergo revisions.
Issuing a Preliminary Project Assessment Letter “is not a development approval or denial from the department,” SooHoo explained via email. “This is very early on in the stage and this is not the development application.”
The architectural firm leading the project, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, has completed hundreds of projects internationally, including Lincoln Center in New York, the New York Stock Exchange, the World Trade Center, the Bank of America World Headquarters in San Francisco, the International Terminal at SFO and the Oakland Museum.
The developers also plan to work with the city to improve the BART plaza.
“One major issue with the current buildings on the Project Site is the blank facades facing the BART Plaza,” reads the Assessment. “The lack of interaction between the current buildings and the neighborhood is a significant contributing factor to the high crime rate at the intersection of 16th and Mission Streets, which in turn deters and limits the public’s use of the BART Plaza open space.”
Part of the plan to improve the corner’s safety is through more retail. Glass-paned stores, cafes and restaurants will wrap around the BART plaza in an effort to provide additional eyes on the street.
The Assessment continues, “Retail spaces will feature welcoming high ceilings and a large expanse of display glass to spark pedestrian interest and provide a safe, engaging revitalization of the BART Plaza.”
At this point it is unclear how the project intends to comply with the affordable housing requirement, though the plan states that no residents will be displaced by the project. The 16th Street and Mission area has the highest concentration of Single Room Occupancy Hotels in the Mission.
Peter Vaovasa, from Walgreens, said he likes the neighborhood he lives and works in, but doesn’t think much of the project. “It’d be nice if they clean up the BART,” he said. “We need to fix more of the community.”
When asked what he would do if he lost his job over the project, he shrugged and said matter-of-factly, “Find more work.”
The project still needs to file development applications and make its way through the approval process.