This fantastic high-rise development proposed for one of the last remaining Transbay District sites at Folsom and Spear is facing some major opposition from former mayor and frequent anti-waterfront-development activist Art Agnos, and a group called Save Rincon Park, and we call bullshit. At a moment when San Francisco can finally add some world-class design to its generally nondescript skyline, and when acclaimed Chicago architect Jeanne Gang has proposed a gorgeous, twisting form unlike any other tower on the west coast, the fight is all over ten extra stories that the developer has requested to add to the tower height that would not only make the design look less squat, but would also enable them to include 36 percent affordable units on site.
As the Chron's John King suggests, the group now vocally opposing the 391-unit project being developed by Tishman Speyer includes some residents of the nearby Infinity Tower, who are clearly most concerned about their own views being obstructed. The idea that they might "save" Rincon Park itself just a strip of grass with some public art (like Cupid's Span) that people walk or jog through along the Embarcadero from a few afternoon shadows is disingenuous, especially given the fact that the site is already zoned for a 300-foot tower under the existing Transbay District rules. Not to mention the fact that the nearby Salesforce Tower will be three times this tall and will clearly cast shadows on this very same park.
Tishman Speyer is seeking a zoning exception to build up to 400 feet on the city-owned, citing the fact that nearby towers in the district have already been allowed to build to 550 feet and above, and would then pay the city $5 million more for the land, or a total of $19.2 million. They would then build 140 below-market-rate units, with 64 of them available to middle-income buyers.
Agnos, with the same bravado with which he opposed the Warriors' waterfront plans and the seemingly dead 8 Washington project, says the proposal is "outrageous" and says "the paltry number of affordable units being offered isn’t worth the loss in [neighborhood] livability."
But is that even true? How does 100 feet change the livability of this already high-rise dominated neighborhood? All because that strip of grass on the Embarcadero will be slightly less sunny part of the day? And not even much less sunny than it will be once the half dozen other towers go up within spitting distance of this one?
Fight for more tall buildings, I say! And in a time of a severe housing crisis, when a developer is being pretty generous about affordability, arguing like children over 100 feet is just tedious.