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Hotel developer drops millennial-inspired design amid backlash

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A rendering of the redesigned hotel proposed near Fisherman’s Wharf, which would cater to business travelers. (Courtesy Stanton Architecture via SF Planning).
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After scrapping the design for a hipster-themed hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf, a San Diego developer has proposed a new look for the project in an attempt to quell the concerns of the Planning Commission and community.

The commission is expected to vote Thursday on the redesigned project at 1196 Columbus Ave., where J Street Hospitality is seeking to open a hotel catering to business travelers in San Francisco, according to city planners.

The hotel was first proposed as a Moxy Hotel by Marriott, but the developer terminated its contract with the brand after neighbors from a preschool and adjacent housing for seniors and people with disabilities complained the hotel would bring nightlife and millennials to the area.

The developer has since proposed a design from AC Hotels by Marriott that will “not encourage potentially disruptive nightlife activities,” according to the Planning Department. The developer has also ditched plans for a roof deck and a ground-floor bar and lounge on Bay Street.

J Street Hospitality did not immediately return a request for comment.

City planners are recommending that the commission approve the project, but commission Vice President Dennis Richards said he is not likely to vote for the hotel despite the new design.

“I’d rather actually prefer housing on this site, given it’s location south of Bay Street,” Richards said. “We have a housing shortage, and I really believe that housing is more appropriate there.”

Bay Street is known as the dividing line between North Beach homes and hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf. There are two large hotels across the street from the proposed hotel, including another Marriott.

The proposed hotel is wedged between North Beach Place Apartments low-income housing and Kai Ming Head Start preschool, at the former site of Tower Records.

The commission could not prevent the developer from reverting back to the Moxy Hotel design that troubled neighbors as a condition of approval. Moxy Hotels feature adult games, bars and video walls that display Instagram pictures.

Chris Darst, a resident of the adjacent North Beach Place Apartments, was one of the neighbors who criticized the initial design for being “millennial focused and alcohol infused.”

“This proposed hotel offers nothing for our neighborhood but a promise to upend the lives of a marginalized San Francisco community struggling to stay afloat during head spinning gentrification,” Darst said in an email to the San Francisco Examiner on Sept. 26, before the redesign.

The Planning Commission has delayed voting on the proposed hotel several times. On Sept. 28, it continued the item with the intent to disapprove.

“I voted no the first time, I voted no the second time, and barring something cosmic, I’ll probably end up voting no the third time,” Richards said.

The project has the support of several merchant and hotel groups in The City.

Correction: The photo caption has been corrected to reflect that the rendering is of the proposed AC Hotel by Marriott.

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