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» SF development boom swallows up historic family businesses

The five-story Empress of China restaurant on Grant Avenue has been the Chinatown community’s wedding capital for decades. Its building is being sold, and the restaurant will close at the end of the year. Photo: Scott Strazzante 

On Russian Hill, Lombardi Sports, a hub for generations of cyclists and rock climbers, is liquidating its inventory to make way for 62 units of housing.

In Chinatown, the Empress of China, the swanky five-story emporium that has hosted thousands of weddings, will shut down at the end of the year in anticipation of the building’s sale.

At Market and Valencia streets, Flax art and design store will move to an undetermined location to make way for 160 housing units.

Some of San Francisco’s historic family-owned businesses are disappearing as fast as an artisanal ice cube in a $14 craft cocktail.

Supervisor David Campos, working with the nonprofit San Francisco Heritage, is finalizing legislation that would create a registry of legacy businesses, defined as restaurants, retailers and manufacturers that have been around at least 30 years and have contributed to their neighborhoods in a meaningful way. The program, which he says is the first in the United States, would create financial incentives that would encourage property owners to retain those kinds of businesses.

“So many of our most valuable businesses that have enlivened these neighborhoods for decades are struggling to survive,” Campos said. “These are businesses that have become cultural institutions, that have helped create the character of the neighborhood.”

read more: sfgate, 01.10.14.

» Repacking Portlandia

America’s most urban planning-obsessed city is about to get a lot more urban.

Residents of Division Street’s “Breakfast House”, protesting an eviction notice. via The Oregonian, 16.05.14.

"A look through the real estate stories in local newspapers, business journals and the Portland Monthly makes this much clear: there’s a construction boom going on in the city, and for the first time in a generation, it’s producing buildings that are truly, enthusiastically, sometimes ill-advisedly new. As Randy Gragg points out in that article series above, the boom is not unprecedented in size; the number of building permits issued in the city in 2013 is still well below the peak of the hot-burning early 2000s.

But what’s being permitted this time is different. Instead of more two-story homes with lawns, punctuated by the occasional condo, now we seem to be making almost nothing but urban buildings. City buildings. Buildings for people who walk fast and ride the streetcar and take taxis, and stay up late and order takeout…

"Portland is a city built on a dense grid of streets, with abundant sidewalks and closely spaced commercial districts. Its public transit system far outstrips that of any US city of comparable size. The growing preference for localism prompts many residents to look down the street for their needs, rather down the highway. These are the underpinnings of a dynamic, multi-modal city, and they’re ideal for supporting the kind of density depicted in the latest round of renderings."

read more: medium @carlalviani, 26.09.14.

» You're Not an Environmentalist If You're Also a NIMBY

In the intense mid-decade battle over a condo project at Telegraph and 51st Street, a group of anti-dense-development activists who called themselves Standing Together for Accountable Neighborhood Development (STAND) sought to block the project and demanded height limits of 48 feet in the Upper Telegraph neighborhood. They were opposed by a pro-dense-development group, known as Urbanists for a Livable Temescal Rockridge Area (ULTRA), which backed the 68-unit project and advocated for taller buildings, up to 75 feet in the area. Ultimately, the city approved the condo project, but it has yet to break ground because of the housing crisis.

At its July 7 meeting, the Oakland City Council likely will approve a plan to allow an unlimited number of tall buildings throughout much of downtown. The proposal follows months of debate that — as in Berkeley — centered on high-rises. Most developers have advocated for as many skyscrapers as possible in the downtown core.

But the city’s proposal could end up backfiring. Mike Pyatok, an accomplished Oakland architect who designs buildings for developers throughout the West, explained that rezoning most of the downtown for tall buildings will artificially raise property values, thereby inhibiting development. Erecting tall buildings is already a costly endeavor, so developers need to acquire land as cheaply as possible to make it work. But if the downtown is rezoned for tall buildings, property owners are going to demand more money for their land, Pyatok explained, noting that property values usually increase when land is rezoned for high rises.

read more: eastbayexpress, 01.07.09.

» ‘I Just Wasn't That Stoked on Where the City’s Going’

"Even when I was a kid, so much of the illusory “prosperity” of the city has been fueled by land grabs. It’s been politicians taking land and selling it to developers at below market value, who in turn pay off the politicians and develop the land for resale. All without paying the full cost of things like maintaining sewer and water and roads far from central areas of the city.

That’s the core underlying story of development in Southern California and that’s shaped our communities.

There are people who are trying to change that, but they’re outgunned by money.

A great example of this is back in 2010, when the city indicated that they didn’t want big-box stores and Walmart just steamrolled through the process and got in anyway. Yes, Walmart pushed that through, but the City Council was complicit. It didn’t go to a vote or anything. City Council just rolled over…

I don’t want to say that the city can never improve, but I think it’s a really long process. The progress is not very impressive.

So, for me, I want to live in a place that supports the things that city dwellers value.”

read more of the interview: vosd, 06.02.14.

Transformation of North San Jose into urban tech hub under way.
…crucial to the city’s success in transforming North San Jose will be attracting high-profile companies. That effort recently got a boost when Samsung broke ground on what is expected to be an iconic campus on First Street near East Tasman Drive. The complex will be dominated by a pair of 10-story office towers and total 680,000 square feet.
To encourage more projects and corporate expansions in North San Jose, city officials have slashed development fees, cut red tape for developers and are allowing higher density than was previously permitted…
"Higher density is the future, and if the demand is there, then it makes sense to build more in North San Jose," said Chad Leiker, a vice president with realty firm Kidder Mathews. "San Jose is betting on light rail and on BART to really make this work."
read more: oaklandtribune/sanjosemercury, 21.01.14.
» Portland should consider overnight permits to solve its parking headache

for a class project, i’ve been reading up on recent apartment buildings going up in Portland that do not provide residents with off-street (on-site or any other space for) car parking. from a ruling made 13 years ago, developers are not required to provide parking in areas of close proximity to transit.

Some residents of these new apartment buildings own cars, however, and park them on the nearby streets. The residents of nearby neighborhoods are now complaining about parking spillover, and who can blame them? Fortunately, the city of Portland can solve this spillover problem without new parking requirements. The problem is not a lack of off-street parking spaces, but the lack of on-street parking management.

Portland can allow the residents of any block to adopt an overnight permit parking district that prohibits overnight parking on the block except for cars with resident permits. This will prevent nonresidents from storing their cars on the block, and it will eliminate the parking spillover from apartments without parking…

The city can make residents of apartment buildings without off-street parking ineligible for residential parking permits on nearby blocks, so anyone who rents an apartment in those buildings will know that overnight parking in front of nearby homes is illegal. Tenants will have to live without a car or make arrangements to pay for off-street parking. The market for these apartments without parking is large, however, because almost a quarter of renter households in Portland do not own a car.

read more: guest columnist Donald Shoup on theoregonian, 05.01.2013

surprising that Portland doesn’t have a parking management program/strategy, while the city/metro area has got land use planning and transportation down for the most part.

like, Portland has no parking permits for residential areas? (ok, they do, but not in every residential area and they started some mini area pilot project, but that’s neighborhood-initiated and no one’s applied yet…) and developers can’t get residents to pledge not to move in to their new apartments with their cars?

I still have to read Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking

**highly recommended, btw, even though I haven’t read it yet***

» The Show Must Go On: Will Mid-Market's Dramatic Development Attract an Audience?

The Strand Theatre, which ACT purchased for $4 million and subjected to a $32.5 million restoration effort, is slated to open in January 2015.

read more: sfweekly, 09.10.13.

related: The Bacon-Wrapped Economy: Tech has brought very young, very rich people to the Bay Area like never before. And the changes to our cultural and economic landscape aren’t necessarily for the better.
eastbayexpress, 20.05.13.

tl;dr of ebx article: the new, young rich (tech) has different preferences of what they spend their money on (ex. bottle service at clubs, bike-to-work pants), vs. the old rich (going out to see plays, symphony orchestras..), and the effects of this on the economy and development.

» Mission BART development could spark political fireworks

bizjournals, 24.10.13.

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