The grandiose plan to turn Stonestown Galleria and its parking lot into a vibrant housing village with new parks was approved by the SF Planning Commission, and it’s been souped up from 2,900 housing units to now 3,500 units.

Southwest San Francisco’s once-seemingly-dying, now surprisingly vibrant Stonestown Galleria mall has in recent years become the site of a wildly ambitious proposed 2,900-unit residential village project, revamping its 30-acre parking lot into housing, parks, and community centers. Last we knew of the proposed project from developer Brookfield Properties, it had nixed a planned hotel, raising the number of housing units from 2,900 to now 3,500.

That new plan went before the SF Planning Commission Thursday, and as the Chronicle reports, the commission gave unanimous approval to the new Stonestown plans.

Image: Brookfield Properties

“I spent a lot of time at this mall when my children were younger as pre-teens,” commission president Sue Diamond said before the vote. “I’m about to be a grandparent, and I very much hope this project is built in time that I can hang out with my grandchildren at this mall.”

While the Planning Commission certified Brookfield’s plans, it still needs SF Board of Supervisors approval.

Brookfield Properties Senior Director of Development Christie Donnelly vowed to turn Stonestown Galleria from “a beloved retail center into a town center.” The plan approved contains six acres of parks and plazas, street and parking improvements, and a new “merchant lane” that would hope to revitalize 20th Avenue into something much more pedestrian-friendly. There are also plans for a farmer’s market area.

Image: Brookfield Properties

Brookfield committed to making the project 20% affordable housing (though this may be achieved by donating other parcels of land to meet the requirement). There will also be 200 units of senior housing, with priority given to veterans. Additionally, there are plans for a 7,500-square-foot childcare center, and another 7,000-square-foot senior center.

Brookfield also vows that the existing Stonestown Galleria will remain open and accessible while all of this construction takes place around it.

Image: Brookfield Properties

But this will completely revamp the parking arrangements at Stonestown. Designer SITELAB urban studio co-founder Laura Crescimano said that under the new design, parking  “is not your primary experience on the ground.” Parking will be moved into structures, underground, or within the residential buildings.

“My sister actually learned to drive at the [Stonestown] parking lot,” Commissioner Joel Koppel said before the vote. “That's how much parking there is at Stonestown, People can learn how to drive there. So I’m thrilled to see the potential of this area just totally skyrocket.”

The commission acknowledged there may be drawbacks. “My main concern here, because I used to live at 19th and Taraval, is the traffic,” Commissioner Theresa Imperial pointed out. “On the weekends it’s really high traffic. Early mornings it’s high traffic. During its peak hours its high traffic. And it affects the transit, the buses, also the L [Taraval] as well.”

Image: SF Planning Commission

But here’s a kick! The commission was shown some of the original Stonestown images and advertising materials from its opening in 1949, and back then, there was also a residential component. Check out that one-bedroom apartment for $99 a month.

Image: Brookfield Properties

Of course, we’ve seen a ton of these projects get stalled lately because of “market conditions” or “it doesn’t pencil.” (Ahem, this is the same Brookfield Properties that surrendered the Westfield Centre to its lenders last summer, along with its partner Westfield Corporation.)

This project hopes to avoid that fate by getting permission to put off the affordable requirements, and prioritizing the market-rate stuff first. But that’s no guarantee. The current timeline calls for the whole project to be completed eight years after breaking ground, but there is no target date for breaking ground at the moment.  

Related: Stonestown Galleria Parking Lots Could Become 2,900-Unit Residential Village

Image: Brookfield Properties