S.F. could put housing over Caltrain depot

Dense development should be built around San Francisco’s Caltrain station, according to a new public policy report that suggests one high-rise project could even be put over the train station’s rail yard.

The Caltrain rail yards at Fourth and King streets divide Mission Bay from neighborhoods to the north. A new report by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association advocates for a development project that would be built over the rail yard. Such a project would create a bridge connecting the two areas, concentrate more people near the transit hub and potentially generate funds to improve Caltrain, according to SPUR.

The Caltrain station is adjacent to two Muni light-rail stops and is the starting point for a new Central Subway to Chinatown, now in the planning phases.

“The core message of this report is, we should concentrate as much of the region’s growth as possible in places where people do not have to drive,” SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf said.

The report also advocates for changing the zoning in the surrounding areas — much of which has been used for light industrial purposes — to allow for more housing. But the report focuses on the potential use of the rail yards because the revenue generated from such a development could help pay to extend Caltrain to downtown, a $2.4 billion transit project long-supported by SPUR.

For the right to build a development project — which would include mid- and high-rise office and residential buildings — over the rail yard, Caltrain could receive between $200 million and $400 million, according to SPUR’s estimates.

Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said SPUR’s idea is not a new one.

“Our station in San Francisco is not adequate for the service growth we’re planning on in the next 20 years,” Weinberg said. “We’re going to have to redo that station anyway, and one of the possibilities is going up multiple levels.”

Caltrain, Weinberg said, has the right to build 30 feet up for any purposes related to rail travel — above that, Catellus Development Corp. has what are known as “air rights,” he said.

Dan Cohen, vice president of planning and development for Catellus, said the transit-rich site was ideal for high-density development and that the company was exploring its options.

Other cities, including New York, Chicago and London, have built high-rises over railroad tracks.

beslinger@examiner.com


Do you support a development above Caltrain?

Share your comments below.

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Passengers ride the 14-Mission Muni bus on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit officials fear Free Muni pilot could hurt already-strained service levels

Supporters say fare cuts could increase ridership, help low-income residents

The vacant property at 730 Stanyan St. in the Haight currently houses a safe sleeping site for the homeless. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Affordable housing project on former McDonald’s site delayed as city adds units

The start of construction on an affordable housing project on the site… Continue reading

Visitors read a notice hanging on the Polk Street entrance to City Hall on Thursday, March 26, 2020, shortly after the building was closed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Hall reopening to the public on June 7 after long closure due to COVID-19

San Francisco will reopen City Hall to the public on June 7… Continue reading

Historic streetcars are undergoing testing on The Embarcadero to prepare for their return to service on May 15.<ins></ins>
What to expect for Muni Metro’s relaunch on May 15

Significant service restoration includes downtown subway tunnels and historic streetcars

Most Read