The developers of a building at 2100 Mission Street enjoyed a rare event on Tuesday evening – a frictionless neighborhood input meeting where they even managed to trade a few jokes with a largely amenable group of nearby residents there to hear about a proposal for a 29- unit building.
Nobody in the Mission Playground meeting room raised their voice, hurled insults, or chanted as frustrated residents have done at other meetings of this kind. Instead, a dozen or so neighbors listened to property owner Tim Muller, architect Stanley Saitowitz, and spokesperson Jeff Hoover pitch the proposed six-story, 29-unit building that would replace a single-story commercial building on 17th and Mission streets, which is currently home to a dollar store.
Perhaps it was the cookies or the fact that the dollar store is now actually a $2 store. Whatever the cause, the tenor of the meeting was strikingly different than earlier community input meetings.
Muller, who works in real estate, said he had bought the building in 1984 as a real estate investment. When it started to seem like a possibility to put housing there, he saw it as a good opportunity.
“I think it’s a real contribution to the neighborhood,” Muller told the neighbors.
The project has been in the works since 2009, but in 2014 the project was put on hold. According to Muller, “we really had an obligation to the present tenant, and there was no rush.”
Muller and his team said he would be open to inviting the dollar store back into the ground floor retail space in the building once complete.
Over time the general concept has remained the same even as certain elements have shifted. The project no longer calls for 15 parking spots, instead providing 29 bicycle parking spaces and hoping tenants will use the plethora of nearby transit options. Its design has been adjusted according to Planning requests to blend more into the neighborhood.
The units proposed are small, with the largest, three-bedroom units clocking in at about 1,000 square feet and the remaining mix of units ranging from about 640 to 670 square feet. The compact floor plans, Saitowitz explained, are intended to keep the sale prices low.
Neighbors had questions, but the only point of discussion where any level of disagreement was registered was the height of the building.
Steven Buss, who lives near 24th and Potrero streets, noted his approval of the appearance, but asked if the building could get a little taller using the city and state programs that allow additional height for new buildings in exchange for a higher proportion of below-market-rate units (as proposed, 2100 Mission would include three, though Hoover said this remains flexible).
“I’d like to advocate for more height,” said Buss. “If we’re going to fight climate change, we want people to live near transit.”
Rick Holman, another neighbor who also owns the Redlick Building across the street from 2100 Mission Street, wasn’t as enthusiastic about additional height, saying eight and 10 story buildings “seem out of scale,” and that he would prefer to see more much-needed affordable housing built in deficient areas like Presidio Heights or even Palo Alto.
“I love tall buildings, personally I’d like to see 200 foot tall buildings,” Buss said.
“You just want Salesforce Towers all over,” Saitowitz teased gently.
“I think Salesforce Tower is not tall enough,” Buss responded.
“Sir, I’m not going there,” Muller, the property owner, chimed in, eliciting a chuckle from the group.
Hoover said height is something “we have been sensitive to,” given opposition to tall buildings in other parts of the neighborhood.
A once eye-catching, gleaming design has become more modest at the request of planners. Its new design, with bay windows and a repeating rectangular pattern, was designed to reflect what’s around it, said Saitowitz.
The neighborhood, he said, has a mix of architectural style, and his goal was “to come up with a response to diversity that is still coherent.”
Residents seemed to appreciate the proposed appearance.
“I like that there’s no orange, and it doesn’t look like I’m in Miami,” said Ellie Rogers, a reference to the frequent orange accents found on new buildings in the city (something Planning Commission President Rich Hillis brought up at a recent hearing as well). She also noted that many new buildings look “so built out, so square.”
“The real beauty of San Francisco which no one ever talks about is repetition. It’s always about a rhythm, that’s more what I think this aesthetic is about than a shape,” offered Saitowitz.
“I think it’s remarkable. It doesn’t look like a flat building to me…it’s beautiful,” another neighbor chimed in.
As the clock approached 8 p.m., Muller, the property owner, called it quits with a message that summed up the demeanor of the meeting:
“As we wind this down I want to remind everyone who has little children at home, there are a lot of cookies back there,” he said. “Make sure that you take all those cookies home to the children, the adults don’t need them.”