Historic Preservation Commission - November 1, 2017 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
November 1, 2017 - 1:30pm



Meeting Minutes


Commission Chambers Room 400,
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4689

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
1:30 p.m.
Architectural Review Committe




STAFF IN ATTENDANCE:  Eiliesh Tuffy, Tim Frye – Historic Preservation Officer, Jonas P. Ionin – Commission Secretary

+ indicates a speaker in support of an item;
-   indicates a speaker in opposition to an item; and
= indicates a neutral speaker or a speaker who did not indicate support or opposition.

1. 2015-010013ENV                                                                                 (E. TUFFY: (415) 575-9191)
30 OTIS STREET –  located on the north side of Otis Street between 12th and Brady Streets, Assessor’s Block 3505, Lots 010, 012, 013, 016, 018 (District 6).  Review and Comment before the Architectural Review Committee on the proposed preservation alternatives in advance of publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed project. The project proposes to: demolish the existing buildings at 74 12th St., 90-98 12th St., 14-18 Otis Street, 30-32 Otis Street, and 38-40 Otis Street to construct a new mixed-use development. The project includes a 27-story residential tower at the intersection of Otis and 12th Streets (Height: 250-ft) and 10-story building podium extensions to the west along Otis Street and to the north along 12th Street (Height: 85-ft). The Otis Street frontage will have retail on the ground floor, bicycle parking access, and an entrance to the underground parking garage. The 12th Street frontage will include the residential building lobby and the main entrance for the City Ballet School’s new dance studios and theater. The project would provide a total of 421 dwelling units, 5,590 square feet of ground floor retail space, a below-grade garage with 94 off-street parking spaces, 435 bicycle parking spaces, and 16,463 square feet devoted to the City Ballet School. The building at 14-18 Otis Street is considered to be an historic resource for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The project site is located within a C-3-G (Downtown-General) Zoning District and 85-X and 85/250-R-2 Height and Bulk Limit. 
Preliminary Recommendation: Review and Comment

SPEAKER: = Eiliesh Tuffy – Staff report
+ Jessie Stewart – Project description
+ Bob Baum – Project design


Reviewed and Commented

The project sponsor presented to the Committee, outlining the goal and objectives of the Project as well as a summary of each of the three Preservation Alternatives studied by the team: No Project; Full Preservation; Partial Preservation.

The Full Preservation option would result in a tall, exposed blank wall facing west due to the location of the building core. Full Preservation would also partially conflict with the ability to locate a ballet theater – which is a double-height space - on the lower floors of the building.

The Partial Preservation design would allow for a theater, and would create an L-shaped tower mass to wrap the front portion of the preserved resource.

It was noted that part of the challenges of integrating the historic resource into the new construction was the disparate floor heights between the 1920s construction and current construction standards.

There was a question about the interpretation of demolition calculations, which the Historic Preservation Officer clarified by stating that the retention of the historic resource’s existing east and west party-walls – by leaving them in place and building around them – would not push the project over the demolition limits set forth in Sec. 1005(f).

Commissioner Hyland spoke to the Committee’s role of reviewing the alternative design studies for their adequacy.

The team was asked whether shifting the location of the ballet studio to better fit it into the building program had been explored. The team responded that it had been studied and that – given the need for a column-free volume of a specific height, the placement of that feature was somewhat limited.

Relocation of the historic resource was raised as a potential option to be studied. It was pointed out that this option had, in fact, been explored and was listed in the packet materials as having been rejected due to structural engineering feedback regarding the fragility of the 1920s concrete and anticipated loss of historic fabric through racking and cracking during even the most careful moving process. Unlike wood frame buildings, concrete does not perform as well under tension. The amount of reconstruction and seismic reinforcement that would be required would result in very little remaining original historic fabric left intact.

Commissioner Pearlman cited the ever-changing built environment of this intersection of streets in the “Hub” along the Van Ness corridor, stating that the history was that of change. The alternative studies reflect in various schemes a loss of up to one-third the potential new dwelling units on this site. A sense of conflict between the value of adding needed housing versus the retention of the resource was discussed.

The programming of the Project was recognized to be challenging, in no small part because of the ballet school & theater proposed to be incorporated into the over site design.

Overall the Committee agreed with the department’s analysis that the submitted Preservation Alternatives were adequate for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act, and for further analysis as part of the preparation of the required Draft Environmental Impact Report.