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Despite parking concerns, luxury high-rise on Market clears hurdle at City Hall

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The proposed site of One Oak, located on the corner of South Van Ness Avenue and Market Street, seen Friday, June 15, 2017. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Parking concerns almost delayed construction of a 40-story skyscraper on Market Street, but San Francisco planning commissioners approved the project with a 5-1 vote Thursday.

The Planning Commission made an exception for the developer of the proposed luxury high-rise, called One Oak, to include fewer parking spaces than permitted by the neighborhood plan after the developer said he could not find funding for the project without the additional spaces.

Neighbors and community groups criticized the project at the corner of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue for seeking conditional-use authorization to build nearly have as many parking spots as units, rather than a quarter as many units, as outlined in the Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan.

Michael Yarne, a principal at developer Build Inc., said the company would include fewer parking spots — 76 instead of 136 in the basement of the skyscraper — if it could finance the 304 condos without them.

“This is that classic dilemma in San Francisco, where everyone wants the ideal,” Yarne said. “Who doesn’t?”
Yarne said the project is “great but not perfect.”

Nearly every planning commissioner at the meeting sided with the developer except Commissioner Joel Koppel, who said he was “overwhelmed” by the showing of neighbors who wanted “very little if no parking.”

Commissioner Rich Hillis said the Market and Octavia Plan had some of the strictest parking regulations when adopted in 2007.

“It was ahead of the game, which I think is important and critical, but we are talking about 60 spaces,” Hillis said at the meeting, noting that the reduction would not have an impact on the building’s design. “The design to the person on the ground floor does not change.”

The other commissioners agreed that the skyscraper would improve the appearance of the corner, which is home to All Star Donuts and a parking lot often used by Civic Center arts patrons.

Commissioner Kathrin Moore said she was worried about previous proposals for the corner.

“This building is the right building, in the right place,” she said at the meeting. “In kind of a wonderful way, it complements Civic Center itself and the arts.”

Yarne said the development will also fund $22 million in off-site affordable housing on three parcels along Octavia Boulevard, and another $7 million elsewhere.

Construction for the affordable housing on Octavia Boulevard is expected to begin in July 2019 and finish around the same time as One Oak in March 2021, according to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

The high-rise development needs additional approval at the Board of Supervisors. Yarne said he expected to appear before the Land Use and Transportation Committee next month.

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