SoMa skyscrapers pushed

The South of Market skyline is headed for the heights, with San Francisco’s Planning Commission considering plans for the eighth residential tower planned for the developing Rincon Hill neighborhood.

Part of an overall plan that is projected to bring thousands of new apartments and condominiums, as well as shops and greenery, into a 12-block section of SoMa, the newest tower, located on Fremont Street between Harrison and Folsom streets, would include up to 330 residential units in a 400-foot tower. The proposed project would involve the demolition of two buildings, both of which are marine labor union halls considered to be historical resources.

On Thursday, San Francisco’s Planning Commission was scheduled to consider several requests for planning code variations from the project sponsors, Colorado-based Archstone Smith Operating Trust and San Francisco’s Jackson Pacific Ventures. Planning staff have recommended approval of the requests, including an exception to a parking requirement that limits parking for residential units to a ratio of one space per two units. Instead, the developers have asked for one parking space per unit, on the grounds that because the parking is underground it won’t impact the surrounding area — an assertion challenged by the project’s critics.

All matters related to 340 Fremont Street were postponed until next week, however, after one of the Planning Commission members asked for an extra week to review the Final Environmental Impact Report.

Among mitigations proposed in the EIR would be the placement of a permanent exhibit on maritime unionism in the lobby of the Sailors Union of the Pacific union hall, which is scheduled to be turned into a community center as part of the project plan.

In the works since 1999, progress on the Rincon Hill development projected has accelerated in recent years, with the approval of residential towers from 350 to 550 feet high on Rincon, Spear, Folsom, and Lansing streets. Two weeks ago, The City’s Planning Director, Dean Macris, said the skyline may reach even higher if momentum grows behind a proposal to include three towers more than 850 feet within the residential development for the new Transbay Terminal, including one tower that would top all others at 1,000 feet and could become the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast.

beslinger@examiner.com

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