Slowly but surely, one of the biggest development proposals for San Francisco’s sleepy west side is moving closer to reality.
Brookfield Properties is proposing to redevelop the vast parking lots surrounding Stonestown Galleria into nearly 3,000 housing units, a shop-lined “main street” and acres of new parks and plazas. Panda Express and Uniqlo patrons, fear not: The existing mall would largely remain as it is during and after the massive construction project.
On Monday night, the San Francisco Planning Department hosted a virtual community meeting on the redevelopment, marking the first step in the project’s environmental review process, a hurdle it must clear before its targeted groundbreaking in 2024. Department staff and representatives of Brookfield Properties described the project and asked for public feedback on its potential environmental impacts.
Stonestown is “an island that separates itself from its neighbors,” said Reuel Cooke, community engagement manager for Brookfield, in a presentation. “We can utilize this land in a way that better serves both the mall and the neighborhood.”
The development would include 2,930 homes and up to 200 hotel rooms in more than a dozen buildings 50 to 190 feet high. The number or percentage of affordable units will be decided as part of a future development agreement with The City.
Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who represents the area, has said she will push for a high percentage of affordable units.
The redevelopment 27 acres of surface parking would create six acres of plazas and open space, which would be publicly accessible but owned by Brookfield, including a trail connection to the existing open space at Rolph Nicol Jr. Playground on Eucalyptus Drive.
Twentieth Avenue, which now serves as a feeder to Stonestown’s parking lots, would be straightened and turned into a new shop-lined “main street,” potentially including a two-way separated bike path. Following the removal of nearly 3,400 parking spaces to make way for housing and parks, the completed project would include a total of 4,250 spaces, mostly in underground garages.
In the public comments, which were limited to the potential environmental impacts of the project, three people expressed concern about increased traffic congestion. Two people called for less parking, which would in turn stimulate less traffic and encourage more people to use nearby transit options like the M Ocean View Muni Metro line. Others expressed concern about the project’s density and aesthetic impacts.
The Planning Department will be accepting comments on the scope of the environmental review process — required under the California Environmental Quality Act — until May 30. Members of the public will have several more opportunities to comment on the environmental impact report, which is expected to be complete by the summer of 2023, as well as other aspects of the project as it seeks approval before the Planning Commission.
Brookfield is hoping to begin construction in 2024 and wrap up by 2032.
The proposed project comes as San Francisco officials seek to allow more development on the west side as part of the state-mandated Housing Element process, which will require The City to accommodate 82,000 new homes by 2031.
Over the even longer term, city planners are considering building a new subway line stretching down Geary Boulevard and 19th Avenue, going right past Stonestown along the way. During a recent hearing discussing the subway, Melgar specifically referenced the Stonestown redevelopment as a reason for increased transportation investment. City planners have previously studied the possibility of putting the existing M Ocean View Muni Metro line underground, but the project has yet to advance beyond the preliminary planning stage.
Even if the Stonestown project is fully environmentally cleared and approved, that’s no guarantee it will actually be built. Less than a mile south on 19th Avenue, the 5,700 unit Parkmerced redevelopment, which was approved in 2014, has yet to break ground.