Proposal for Broadway Garage Redevelopment in San Francisco’s Central Business District Could Deliver 48 Units

By Meghan Hall

The City of San Francisco recently responded to a proposal submitted in December of 2017 by San Francisco-based architecture firm Ian Birchall and Associates. Preliminary plans for the project would demolish the existing 21,724-square foot parking garage at 425 Broadway in San Francisco and replace it with a six-story mixed-use building.

Base plans for the project include 28 dwelling units, plus seven below-market-rate units for a total of 35 that would be accompanied by 15 parking spaces. An alternative plan, which would take advantage of California’s Density Bonus Law, would increase the number of units to 48, with the below-market-rate units remaining the same. But the updated plans, however, would also include 92 car parking spaces and 53 bicycle parking slots. Stackers would be used for the 23 residential parking spaces and the 69 commercial parking spaces. In addition to that, the ground floor of the new building would also include 2,570 square feet of commercial space.

The project site is located just between San Francisco’s Financial District and the Embarcadero. Numerous restaurants, such as The Stinking Rose, Cotogna and Bask Tapas are all within walking distance of the development. Chinatown, the Ferry Building Marketplace and the Transamerica Pyramid are also within close proximity of the project site.

Any complex with additional dwelling units, no matter how small, is welcomed in San Francisco’s tight real estate market, where apartments and condominiums are often snapped up in a matter of months if not faster. According to a report released in February of 2018 by real estate marketing and research firm Pacific Polaris, there are only 52 condominium units and 429 apartments under construction in what Pacific Polaris classifies as San Francisco’s up and coming district that encompasses the Tenderloin, Telegraph Hill and part of San Francisco’s booming Financial District.

Currently, the project is in the preliminary planning stages, and no formal entitlement application has been submitted, according to Candace SooHoo, a planner for the City of San Francisco. “At this time, we are not sure what the exact full scope of work of the proposal will be and can only provide further comments on subsequent formal submissions,” she said.

Preliminary comments from the City show that the project will be subject to several construction guidelines, and the City will ensure that the design of the building will mesh well with the neighborhood. Because the lot is over 5,000 square feet, Ian Birchall and Associates must submit an application for a Conditional Use Authorization and would require a Planning Commission hearing in order to evaluate if the proposed project is appropriate for the neighborhood.

Dwelling unit mix requirements also apply for the project; at least 25 percent of the proposed units must have two bedrooms and at least 10 percent of the units must have three bedrooms. Currently, plans for the project include nine two-bedroom and and four-bedroom units, meeting the City’s standards. A minimum of 35 units are planned for delivery, which may exceed the maximum allowable unit density and must be examined when the project is reviewed.

Due to heavy traffic on Broadway, drive-up commercial spaces will be largely discouraged by the City. San Francisco encourages the developer to find tenants that will enhance the neighborhood such as restaurants and small-scale retail stores and limits the tenancy of fast-food restaurants and adult entertainment uses.

Once an entitlement application is submitted, the City can move forward with an environmental review of the project.

Ian Birchall and Associates declined to comment for this story.