First signs of a building boom in Western Soma beginning to sprout

by JIM MEKO

The sea of construction cranes along Market Street can be attributed to the rezoning included in the Market/Octavia Plan, which was signed into law in 2007, and the improving economy. In Western SoMa, the first signs of a similar boom are beginning to appear.  

The 400-plus unit development at 8th and Harrison Street is back on track after the Lehman Brothers estate bankruptcy settlement sold off Archstone and threw the project into doubt. Several alumni from Archstone have formed their own real estate management firm and have located a new developer for the property who is committed to moving forward with the plans as originally approved by the Planning Commission last Fall. Archstone worked closely with the Western SoMa Task Force and this was considered a model for some of the other major opportunity sites in the Plan Area.

New architects and a different developer have emerged with plans for another site located at 12th and Harrison Streets across from the SF Eagle. The area is zoned for mixed-use residential uses (WMUG) and Residential Enclave Districts (REDs). The 100-plus unit project with ground-floor retail is expected to rise 65 feet, taking advantage of a height bump tied to increased affordability. The project sponsors are hoping to tie some of their development impact fees into plans developed by the Task Force for the “greening” of 12th Street.

Chris Foley, who is currently developing the church property at 10th and Howard Streets, has put 1140 Folsom Street on the market. The 32,800 square foot site is currently occupied by a single-story building housing Bay Lighting and Design. Located on the new Folsom Street neighborhood commercial corridor (Folsom-NCT), the new zoning would allow new construction to rise to 65 feet, with retail space on the ground floor and community-serving commercial and office uses allowed on the second floor [with housing above]. Limited Live Performance venues are also allowed in this zoning district. The Langton Alley portion of the site is zoned as a Residential Enclave District and comes with a 40 foot height limit and other restrictive conditions meant to improve the quality of life for those already living there.

Several other small development projects are percolating through the planning process but none are far enough along to discuss at this time.

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