It was clearly just a stunt from the outset, but now that 50-story tower that was proposed to be built near SF's Ocean Beach has been officially taken off the table.

The news media leapt all over the story of the 50-story condo tower that a developer was, absurdly, trying to get approved on San Francisco's underdeveloped west side last spring. We first heard wind of this in April 2023, and by last summer the Reno-based developer behind the imaginary project had released renderings showing the tower looming over the mostly two-story Outer Sunset, and the media kept writing about it as if this was even a remote possibility, which it never was.

The developer, CH Planning, which seemed to want to goad San Francisco's Planning Department — or they just wanted to get on the news — went so far as to file a lawsuit against the city over its rejection of the project, claiming that "NIMBYs and their enablers in local governments... continue to thwart the will of the Legislature and find ways to unlawfully interfere with the production of housing."

The site at 2700 Sloat Boulevard, across from the San Francisco Zoo, had originally been proposed as a home for an eight-story, 200-unit project back in 2020, and the developer later resubmitted a plan for a twelve-story, multi-tower project, trying to take advantage of the state's new density bonus law.

The 50-story, 680-unit project, the developer tried to argue, should be allowed at the site under the density bonus law, because it was set to include 110 affordable units. The site is zoned for heights of up to 100 feet, and SF supervisors and planning department staff balked at the notion that you could somehow get a 50 stories out of a 50% density bonus.

Now, as the Chronicle reports, the developer sent a letter to the Planning Department withdrawing the project, and announcing that the property is in contract to be sold to another developer with much less ambitious plans. The new developer, a nonprofit subsidiary of Pacific Housing West, has plans for an eight-story, 100% affordable project.

"I gave [Pacific Housing West] authorization to proceed with their development plans with the City," said CH Planning CEO Raelynn Hickey in the letter. "It’s certainly smaller than anything we had proposed, and we hope it goes well. The area desperately needs housing."

Hickey also said that CH Planning would be withdrawing its lawsuit against the city, and she requested the return of fees that were paid with the project submittal.

So, what was this charade all about, and did the developer ever have a serious intention of building on this site? Or was this some kind of game being played with liberal San Francisco and its anti-development rules and bureaucracy, just for kicks?

Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the Sunset, gave a statement to the Chronicle, saying that the withdrawal of the project proposal "puts to rest the nonsense about a 50-story tower that has been a boogeyman and headache for neighbors over the past year."

Engardio adds, "We need more housing in San Francisco and this is an ideal site for it. I look forward to working with a new developer in good faith to create realistic and code-compliant housing that will give people of all backgrounds a chance to remain in San Francisco."

Previously: Developer Behind Absurd 50-Story Tower Proposal In the Sunset Sues City For Not Approving It