by Thomas K. Pendergast
A plan to build more than 250 residential units on the site currently operating as the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), located at 3700 California St., is now being reviewed by the SF Planning Department.
The CPMC hospital is expected to move sometime in 2019 when it shifts to its new Cathedral Hill medical campus at Geary Street and Van Ness Avenue. After that, most of the existing buildings will be demolished, except the Marshall Hale building at 3698 California St. and a building at 401 Cherry St.
Up to 31 new buildings, varying between three and seven stories tall, will be constructed with underground parking and a recreational facility, which will result in a total of 258 residences. They will include 14 four-bedroom, single-family homes, with each assigned two parking spaces, and 244 multi-family units that will be assigned a total of 369 parking spaces, an average of 1.5 spaces per unit.
Matt Field, the chief investment officer for the developer, TMG Partners, explained why the two buildings were left standing.
“The 401 Cherry is an existing rent-controlled building,” Field said. “So, we’re not demolishing rent-controlled units. And, the Marshall Hale building, we think, is a nice historic building that has been a fixture in the neighborhood. We think we can do a nice renovation on it and keep some of the historic character that was on the site.
About 80 percent of the residences will be either two, three or four bedrooms. According to the application filed with the Planning Department, aside from the single-family homes, seven additional units in the multi-family buildings will also have four bedrooms each. For the remainder, 99 units will have three bedrooms, 87 will have two bedrooms, 42 will have one bedroom and the rest will be studios.
Field noted that the seven story buildings go up to 80 feet, the upper limit under current zoning rules, but they did not take advantage of the HomeSF program, which would have allowed taller buildings in exchange for more units being sold or rented at below the market rate (BMR). He said they started the process for the development before HomeSF kicked in.
“We started a process early with the neighbors, with the underlying zoning, and in keeping with the spirit of working with the neighbors we tried to stay within that framework,” he said.
The percentage of BMR units required for all new residential construction has been a moving target the last few years. At one time it was 12 percent of the total, then it was bumped up to 25 percent, but it was thought that this might discourage new development, so in May of 2017 it was adjusted to 18 percent.
Field explained that since the completion of the project is still a few years away, they have not decided what percentage of BMR units will be included.
“Depending on when it’s approved and what the rules are at that time, that’s what we’re going to comply with. It’s going to depend on the timing,” he said.
Prior to submitting its application to the department, TMG Partners did about 18 months of outreach to the local community. At least one member of the Presidio Heights Association of Neighbors (PHAN) thinks it helped a lot.
“They have a lot of support here for their project,” said Ron Blatman, a member of PHAN’s board of directors. “They did a lot of outreach early and often. So, right away you’ve got a developer that did a lot of outreach and they were very proactive with the neighbors. They didn’t overreach in the sense that they weren’t grabbing for stuff.”
Blatman noted that TMG Partners could have tried for another 50 units to increase density, but most likely this would have been a case of quantity over quality.
“It’s all well and good to say ‘get more units’ but a lot of times it means you’re building in the same building envelope, which means you get smaller units,” he said. “At the same time you get all of these people saying, which I would agree with, ‘we need more family-sized units in town.’ Every time somebody says ‘we’ll just squeeze more units in,’ what’s the first thing to go? It’s the family-sized units.”
Larry Costello, president of the Jordan Park Improvement Association, also expressed appreciation for the outreach of TMG Partners.
“I have to say that TMG has been pretty receptive and responsive to neighborhood input,” Costello said. “I’m impressed with that.”
Field explained that sitting down with the neighbors and understanding how they viewed the character of the area was very helpful in informing their design.
“I think it’s always important to do community outreach,” Field said. “You learn a lot listening to people. We typically try to undertake extensive community outreach before we come up with a plan or an idea because we think we’re going to learn something and end up with a better project in that process.”