By Thomas K. Pendergast
Plans to surround the Stonestown Galleria with almost 3,000 units of housing are progressing, as real estate developers work to modernize the shopping mall concept.
According to documents filed with the San Francisco Planning Department, Brookfield Properties says the company “seeks to evolve Stonestown’s presence as a neighborhood institution by enhancing the quality of life for the existing neighborhood and the new Stonestown community.
“The development will be a model of sustainable planning with an emphasis on healthy communities, water stewardship and carbon-conscious leadership.”
Brookfield Properties proposes about 2,930 new homes, including rental, for-sale, market rate and affordable options. The plan includes: 160,000 gross square feet (GSF) for retail, the majority of that along 20th Avenue; 200,000 GSF for offices (catering to small neighborhood businesses like architecture studios or accounting firms); and 40,000 GSF of “public community space” with “at least one childcare facility.”
Buildings will be between three and 18 stories tall. The project also includes about six acres of publicly accessible parks, plazas and open space.
While space for cars on surface parking lots will be eliminated, underground retail parking will continue and be expanded west, adding retail parking adjacent to Trader Joe’s, Target, Regal Cinemas and Whole Foods.
As for residential parking, they will be providing what the City requires.
“Each residential building on the site will have a different parking ratio, but cumulatively the ratio will not exceed the City limit of one parking space for each new home built,” they say. “A multi-modal network for pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles, and other transportation options will help create improved connections that encourage alternate modes of transportation. A clear way-finding system will be implemented with automated sensors and parking smart apps. Electric vehicle charging stations will continue to be provided, and the number of stations will increase to support the state’s zero-emissions policies and work towards combating climate change.”
Presently, the mall is surrounded by approximately 3,400 surface parking spaces. There are about 250 spaces in the underground parking garage and another 700 spaces in the southwest parking garage.
The roots of the Stonestown Galleria go back about a century, when the new M-Ocean View streetcar line brought development into that section of the City.
Ellis and Henry Stoneson developed more than 25,000 homes in the western part of San Francisco, according to Brookfield Properties.
“The original vision for Stonestown was to create a community that would serve the residents’ daily needs and recreation without having to travel to other parts of the City.”
They broke ground for the mall in 1949 with a vision of it becoming a “city within a city.” They built 700 apartments next to it on 65 acres of land and adjacent to 19th Avenue. The shopping center was designed as an open air pedestrian promenade “anchored by the Emporium department store at the north. It also included a grocery store, a medical complex, and numerous retail shops and services. At the time of completion in 1952, Stonestown was the nation’s fourth-largest apartment and shopping center development.”
A movie theater opened up in the 1970s, a “major remodel” to modernize the mall was done in the 1980s with a second level of retail, plus a glass enclosure was added and a department store on the south side was renovated to connect with the main complex.
Then it was rebranded as the Stonestown Galleria.
Going forward, the project site will be organized into zones.
“The eastern residential edge will be centered around the new 20th Avenue retail corridor, featuring a mix of restaurants, retail and community uses. In contrast to the active retail-centric heart that is 20th Avenue, the west side is suited for more neighborhood-focused programs paired with more greenery, inspired by the natural landscape of the area.
The Preliminary Project Assessment document explains some of the details of the redevelopment plan.
“Today, 20th Avenue is a curved street that prioritizes vehicular travel and often serves as parking circulation. In the future, 20th Avenue will be straightened and become a lively and walkable main street conveniently located next to the Muni M-Line and a short walk from Lakeside and San Francisco State University. It will be a key north-south connector through the site lined with indoor-outdoor dining options and retail spaces that can be subdivided or combined to accommodate different types of retailers and community uses,” the document says.
“The current area in front of the main Stonestown Galleria entry will be transformed into The Commons, one of the main public plazas … envisioned to become a civic space for the neighborhood, featuring a mix of retail and neighborhood-serving spaces while conveniently connected to transit….
“The project proposes to enhance the west side of the site such that there is no longer a front or back side to Stonestown Galleria. A Town Square will become a neighborhood gathering place for shoppers and residents, with ample outdoor space for outdoor café seating, recreation space, and events like the weekly farmer’s market.”