Mexican Museum, condo project get key city sign-off 

click to enlarge The Aronson Building on Mission Street would abut the proposed 510-foot condo tower. The new tower would house four floors of the Mexican Museum, while the Aronson Building would house two floors. - MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • The Aronson Building on Mission Street would abut the proposed 510-foot condo tower. The new tower would house four floors of the Mexican Museum, while the Aronson Building would house two floors.

One of the largest proposed condominium tower projects in recent years — which includes the Mexican Museum’s long-awaited permanent home — received key approval Thursday, but by a slim margin.

The plan by Millennium Partners — which built the nearby Millennium Tower as well as the Residences at the Four Seasons — to construct a 510-foot building at 706 Mission St. was approved by the Planning Commission by a 4-3 margin Thursday despite concerns about parking limits and the “piecemeal” way The City enforces a limit on shadows cast by tall buildings.

Between 145 and 190 condos would be in the 47-story tower, and the Mexican Museum would receive four floors in the new tower and two floors in the adjacent 10-story Aronson Building for 52,000 square feet of space — free of charge. The museum would also receive a $5 million endowment from the developer.

Opponents of the project sought to have the tower’s height reduced by using a nearly 30-year-old law that restricts the amount of shadows that new skyscrapers can cast on public parks. The tower’s shadow would block the early morning sun on Union Square.

Residents at the nearby Four Seasons building have vowed to sue to get the project reduced in size — down to 351 feet tall — so that it does not cast a shadow. A city analysis found that a 351-foot tower would not be “financially feasible.”

The Recreation and Park Commission, which also needed to approve the project Thursday because of the shadow cast, voted to increase the shadow allowance in the area and to allocate the increased allotment to the 706 Mission St. project.

Recreation and Park Commissioner Gloria Bonilla bristled at the notion that shadows could delay the museum project.
“We are not going to sacrifice the culture, and the Latino culture as a whole” for shadow concerns, she said.

If built as approved, residents in the 510-foot residential skyscraper would also enjoy ample parking in the transit-rich corridor, which includes the forthcoming Central Subway.

The project includes the purchase of the Jessie Street parking garage. About half of the spaces in the garage would be for use by the condominiums’ new owners, allowing each unit a dedicated parking space.

“Why we’re all of a sudden saying in the richest transit area in The City we’re going to be allowing one-to-one parking is beyond me,” Planning Commissioner Hisashi “Bill” Sugaya said.

The developer will also receive a public resource on which to build. Transfer of a nearly 10,000-square-foot parcel in Jessie Square, under control by the successor to the Redevelopment Agency, is part of the deal.

The project must clear one more hoop at City Hall before construction can begin. The Board of Supervisors must approve a zoning amendment to allow a taller skyscraper in the area with a 400-foot limit. A vote on that amendment, which would create a special-use district, is scheduled for June.

croberts@sfexaminer.com

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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