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Sloat Garden Center likely to close for new mixed-use development

Sloat Garden Center. | Photo: Adam S./Yelp

By Sasha Perigo - Published on April 15, 2020.

It's been over a decade since plans to demolish the Outer Sunset's Sloat Garden Center (2700 Sloat Blvd.) were first announced. Now, it appears that the proposed mixed-use development on the site — a neighborhood staple since the 1950s — may finally be happening.

On March 30, owner Dave Straus submitted dueling proposals for redeveloping the site to the Planning Commission. The first proposal calls for an 85-foot building with a total of 213 condominiums, 49 of which would be "affordable"—sold at prices below market rate (BMR).

At 125 feet tall, the other proposal is larger; it would have 283 condos, 85 of them affordable. In both cases, the units would be condominiums built for sale, not rental apartments. Market rate units are expected to start at $200,000. BMR buyers can apply for lower priced units through a lottery.

Both of the two proposals include 24,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space, bike parking, and car share spaces. Neither includes private parking spaces. Residents will have access to co-working space, lap pools, an outdoor terrace, and childcare facilities, among other amenities.

Typically, a developer submits dual proposals in anticipation of mediating potential complaints. Here's a breakdown of the two proposed projects:

  Proposal 1 Proposal 2
Total Housing Units 213 283
    BMR units 49 (23%) 85 (30%)
    Studios 98 128
    One-bedroom units 28 38
    Two-bedroom units 65 87
    3+ bedroom units 22 30
Retail Space 24,500 sq ft 24,500 sq ft
Project Height 85 ft (8 stories) 125 ft (12 stories)
Transportation    
    Private Parking Spaces 0 0
    Car Share Spaces 10 10
    Bike Parking 250 300+
Amenities offered in each of the two proposals. | Data: Lowney Architecture

Created in partnership with developer Lowney Architecture, both proposals would utilize the city’s HOME-SF density bonus program. The program allows developers to build taller and higher-density housing in exchange for providing more affordable units. Developers have argued these concessions make building affordable housing more financially feasible.

"Most people can’t afford to pay over $1 million for a home in the Outer Sunset, and are forced to either rent or not live in the area," project manager Dennis Menikheim told Hoodline. "The goal is affordable homeownership, and the ability to stop paying rent and build equity and stability."

Renderings of the 213-condo proposal. | Photo: Lowney Architecture

Conditional-use permits were first granted for a residential development on the Sloat Garden Center site in 2008, according to the San Francisco Examiner. A 2015 proposal, created prior to HOME-SF, called for 56 units, seven of them below market rate. (At the time, Straus was working with a separate developer and prospective buyer, Sloat-Parkside Properties.)

Though Planning granted Straus and Sloat-Parkside extensions after their initial permit expired, the team never went through with the development, which would demolish the garden center as well as two other buildings on the site.

Straus has since found a new buyer for the property, Tom Hu, according to a February 13 letter provided alongside his planning application. Lowney, the project’s current developer, came onboard in 2019.

The current site of the garden center. | Photo: Google Maps

Beloved by local gardeners, the 2700 Sloat Blvd. location is the original and flagship location for Sloat Garden Center, which now has 13 locations around the Bay Area (including two others in San Francisco). The original location first opened in 1958.

If the Planning Commission approves the project, Menikheim anticipates that construction will start in late 2021 or early 2022, with the garden center closing beforehand for demolition.

Unlike other local businesses shuttering due to coronavirus-related woes, Straus emphasized in his application that he’s not selling the property due to financial stress. (We reached out to him for comment, but did not hear back.)

San Franciscans can submit feedback on the project by emailing the Planning Commission.

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