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From The Hub to South Van Ness, S.F.'s New Hot Spot

As San Francisco's building boom continues to grow beyond the city's select neighborhoods, developers have looked to the automotive and industrial sites along South Van Ness, starting with the intersection of Market Street and Van Ness and moving down toward the 16th Street BART station. Bisnow took at look at what's going on in San Francisco's latest hot spot.


Even as buyers snatch up industrial sites for projects involving housing and commercial space, the city is re-evaluating the height limits it has in place in an effort to encourage denser development with more affordable housing.

Key to development in the area is the access to transit. San Francisco's Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project (above) slated for completion in 2018 would create dedicated bus lanes separated from traffic from Lombard to Mission streets (incorporating Van Ness Avenue and one block of South Van Ness). Where there is better access to transit, the city is considering reductions in parking requirements for transit-oriented developments.


In The Hub, the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Market and Van Ness, the 2008 Market and Octavia Area Plan allows for residential high-rises up to 400 feet around that intersection. Now, the city planning department is discussing allowing developers to build higher, perhaps raising the heights of towers to include more affordable housing.


While there are a lot of proposed projects, with more than 4,000 housing units in the pipeline around The Hub intersection alone, there are some that already have shown the viability of the area.

There's Crescent Heights' NEMA, shown above, with its 754 luxury apartments at the corner of Market and 10th streets next to the Twitter headquarters.

At 100 Van Ness, Emerald Fund converted the office tower to 400 residential units just above Market Street. The building is the first of three from Emerald Fund on the block that the company expects will shift the neighborhood to a more residential feel.

Here are some key projects in play right now:

30 Van Ness


The city's planned sale of its 30 Van Ness to Related California for $80M lands the city some new office digs in part of a new mixed-use development at 1500 Mission St (see below).

What it means for the 30 Van Ness site is the replacement of the existing five-story building with about 600 units of housing. Related California plans to use a tax-exempt bond to increase the percentage of affordable housing at the site to 20% (up from the 12% required by the city's area plan). A city subsidy could up that to 33%.

With a lease-back agreement for three years, this project, while important, won't be happening anytime soon.

1500 Mission St


The Goodwill site, also owned by Related California, is expected to include a 39-story, 560-unit luxury apartment tower (with 20% of the units for affordable housing) next to a 462k SF office tower that will be the new home for the city's planning, building and public works departments. The residential tower also will include 55k SF of retail.

Related California notes the location is one block from the headquarters of Twitter, Uber and Square and three blocks from City Hall, Davies Symphony Hall and the San Francisco Jazz Center.

30 Otis St


This project is a good example of the difference it could make if height limits are increased in certain cases.

Align Real Estate plans to build a 250-foot tower with 354 residential units at this spot, replacing an auto body shop and carpet store. The $115M project would include 10k SF for the City Ballet School.

If allowed, the project could build higher. Alternative plans could grow the project to 483 units or 618 units (with the tower for the largest proposal rising 450 feet).

10 S Van Ness


Crescent Heights, the force behind NEMA, will make its next move by demolishing the former Honda dealership (above) to build a 400-foot-tall, mixed-use project with 767 residential units and more than 20k SF of commercial space.

1515 15th


JS Sullivan is building 1515 15th, a $24M, 40-unit condo project at the intersection of South Van Ness and 15th Street. The mixed-use project will have about 7,400 SF of ground-floor retail.

Developer Sean Sullivan told the San Francisco Chronicle last year he expected a lot of development along South Van Ness in the coming years, moving the area from a car-based to a more pedestrian-friendly environment.