India Basin plans move ahead despite opposition from Russian bath house

The San Francisco Planning Commission advanced a mixed-use development Thursday that will bring 1,575 new homes and over 15 acres of public open space to the shoreline of India Basin in Hunters Point — despite strong opposition from patrons and staff of a neighboring Russian bath house.

The project will span a total of 38.24 acres that includes 900 Innes Ave., the India Basin Shoreline Park —which will be developed by The City’s Recreation and Park Department — and 700 Innes Ave., to be developed by BUILD Inc.

On Thursday, the commissioners approved multiple entitlements needed to move it forward, including an Environmental Impact Report and zoning map amendments that will allow for BUILD Inc. to construct two 14-story towers along the shoreline.

Current zoning designates the area as industrial and caps construction at four stories. However the commission moved to adopt an ordinance introduced by Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen in June that, among other things, rezoned the project site as mixed use and expanded height limitations to up to 160 feet.

Plans envision an “urban village” complete with some 209,106 square-feet of non-residential space, up to 1,800 vehicle spaces and 1,575 bicycle spaces, and 15.5 acres of new or improved publicly accessible open space, including the approximately 5-acre “Big Green,” which provides habitat and recreation and is designed to adapt to sea level rise.

“I think it’s amazing that it’s able to connect Pier 70 down to the Hunters Point Shipyard,” Commissioner Kathrin Moore said, calling the project “natural and correct” for the southern waterfront.

But two proposed 160-foot tall residential towers drew the ire of the Archimedes Banya community — a popular Russian bath house that operates at 748 Innes Ave. with an upper deck, a lounge area and saunas.

On Thursday, dozens of supporters shared concerns about how the towers would “engulf” their beloved bath house, impacting the privacy of its clientele.

“The crown of the banya is the roof, where people are resting — there are chairs, lounges and tables. They are socializing,” said a supporter of the bath house.“If you build a 14 story building and it will block the beautiful view, the banya will die.”

Mikhail Brodsky, the bathhouse’s founder, said that he has been “ignored” in the project’s design process.

“Ten months ago we had a meeting where a lot of people requested to have banya included in EIR. The result was that we were not included because we are not old enough business,” said Brodsky. “I understand San Francisco needs more housing but I don’t understand why it needs to threaten existence of an established small business to achieve that.”

But a representative for the developer said that multiple design options were presented to Brodsky, including relocating the bath house to a different location on the project site and including the bath house in the higher density rezoning.

“I was offered to build up this building, which is impossible,” said Brodsky. “Can you imagine it? That someone is coming and saying, sign for me the papers and I will get zoning for you ….so you can build up yourself.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

Laura Waxmann
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Laura Waxmann

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