Plan to convert Stonestown in SF into housing comes into focus. Here’s an early look

The plan to transform Stonestown Galleria from a shopping center into a vibrant city center with thousands of new residents is getting closer.

With the environmental impact report a few weeks away from publication – and the developer hopes to get approvals next year – owner Brookfield will unveil new renderings and plans tonight, shared with The Chronicle in advance, at a neighborhood meeting.

Much of the plan has not changed since the application was submitted last September. The plan still calls for 2,930 housing units, six acres of open space, and the reinvention of 20th Avenue as a new pedestrian-facing “main street” that will run past the front door of the current mall. The corridor will have small-scale retail and office spaces nearby under residences on the east side, while on the west side will be outdoor seating from the mall’s restaurants.

But after months of talks with a community working group, new details have emerged. The parking lot in the back of the property, closest to Lowell High School and Rolph Nicol Jr. Playground, will feature a city square as well as a linear park the size of South Park in San Francisco’s South of Market. There will be a dog park and a children’s playground. The weekly farmer’s market, which now uses the parking lot, will continue to be located there.

A view of the greenway of the proposed multi-use city center development at Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco.

Brookfield Properties

As envisioned, the new Stonestown will have 13 residential buildings. The tallest buildings – three at 18 stories and one at 14 stories – will cluster near San Francisco State University, on the south side of the property. The majority of the buildings will be five to eight stories, with some three-story townhouses in the northwestern portion of the property, closest to Rolph Nicol Playground and the homes along Eucalyptus Drive.

Courtney Pash, Sr. Director of Development for Brookfield Properties, said the mix of uses – retail, leisure, residential, some small-scale office space – “will help provide stability to weather the next crisis or economic downturn.”

“New renderings bring to life ideas contributed by the community over the past three years and show details of proposed improvements, features and experiences,” said Pash. “Our plans apply lessons learned from the pandemic and the ever-changing retail landscape. Cities and neighborhoods with a mix of uses, not just offices or retail, have proven to be more resilient in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

The latest version of the Stonestown proposal comes as San Francisco finalizes its housing element, a state-mandated plan that will rezone large portions of the city’s west side to accommodate 82,000 homes. The Stonestown redevelopment is the second largest opportunity to add housing to the west side, after the already approved ParkMerced, which has permits to add 5,700 homes but has stalled due to lack of funding.

Pash said the Stonestown developer hopes to receive approvals next summer and begin infrastructure work in 2024. The phased redevelopment will take place over 15 years.

A rendering of the Winston gateway view of the proposed multi-use city center development at Stonestown Galleria in San Francsico.

A rendering of the Winston gateway view of the proposed multi-use city center development at Stonestown Galleria in San Francsico.

Brookfield Properties

Mark Scardina, president of the Ingleside Terraces Homeowners Association, called the plan “community-focused.” Turning 20th Avenue into a one-way street with protected bike lanes and wide sidewalks calms traffic and reduces accidents, especially on Winston Street, which he called “one of the most dangerous intersections in San Francisco.”

“It’s a nightmare for pedestrians and cars alike,” he said.

Leslie French, a homeowner in Monterey Heights, said some neighbors are skeptical of the plan, concerned about increased traffic and new residents taking up the scarce parking spaces nearby.

“The west side of town doesn’t like change — and I don’t like change either,” said French. “But in life, change is the only constant. We need housing and this is the place to do it. I predict that in the long run people will love this project and be eager to live there.”

While Brookfield has set much of the site plan, the main, potentially controversial question is how many of the units will be affordable. In recent years, similar large-scale redevelopments — including Mission Rock, near Oracle Park, and Balboa Reservoir, a 17-acre parking lot at City College — have taken up between 30% and 40% of affordable-for-low-rise units. and moderate-income households.

Pash said the affordable housing plan, along with other public benefits, is being negotiated with Mayor London Breed’s office. She said neighbors have made it clear they want senior housing, both competitive and very affordable, as well as staff housing aimed at families.

Scardina said the west side neighborhoods are full of older people eager to downsize but want to stay close.

“We have a lot of seniors who are rich in homes and poor and have nowhere to go,” he said.

Like malls across the country, Stonestown’s crop of anchor tenants has withered in recent years. Macy’s closed in 2018. The Nordstrom store closed the following year. The Gap left last summer.

Still, compared to many malls, Stonestown has weathered the storm, signing a string of leases and establishing itself as a niche for Asian specialties like Marugame Udon and Japanese chain Gram Cafe & Pancakes. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are both open, along with a sports basement and a new 11-screen movie theater.

Pash said the mall is doing well and the housing plan will only make it healthier. “We have a connection with San Francisco, with the neighborhood, and this is the right place for housing,” Pash said. “We have the ability to provide housing and also support the mall and help the mall thrive in the future.”

So far, the only controversy that has emerged is whether Brookfield should save the single-story, shuttered 1970s movie theater at the rear of the property, which some conservationists claim is a rare example in San Francisco of ‘new formalistic’ architecture. . Keeping the theater would mean sacrificing about 170 housing units.

Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who represents the neighborhoods around Stonestown, said not one voter is arguing that the theater should be saved. She said she received little negative feedback on the project. “It’s been remarkably smooth so far,” he said.

JK Dineen is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @sfjkdineen

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