CityPlace, USA -- and why Newsom wants developers involved in district elections

Newsom warned a crowd of real-estate developers that the city will face a "dramatic shift" if their candidates lose.
Rebecca Bowe

Speaking at the San Francisco Mariott Hotel today, Sept. 14, to a room packed full of developers, land-use attorneys, building owners and managers, members of the San Francisco Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, and others who had gathered for a San Francisco Business Times event, Mayor Gavin Newsom championed a retail development project proposed for San Francisco’s mid-Market area that is being opposed by Livable Cities and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The project will come under consideration at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

“CityPlace will be an anchor of revitalization” in mid-Market between Fifth and Sixth streets, Newsom said. Members of the Board of Supervisors may try to block it, he added, but “we can’t afford to let that happen. It’s a quarter of a million square feet, and it connects right up from Nordstrom’s.”
“CityPlace is critical,” he added. Marcia Smolens of public relations firm HMS Associates is representing Urban Realty, the developer of CityPlace, according to a file included in the Board of Supervisors meeting packet. Smolens contributed $2,500 to Newsom’s run for Lieutenant Governor. An architect with a partnering firm on the project, Gensler, plunked down $1,000 for Newsom’s campaign.

The mid-Market area has long faced issues of blight and crime. Newsom put forth a vision for its revitalized future that would include “more cops” (the development would connect with a police officers’ substation planned near Sixth and Market streets, Newsom noted), a creative bent thanks to partnerships with artists, and an area “a little less crowded with folks panhandling.”

The proposed development is essentially a large glass box with a shopping mall inside. According to the project website, Urban Realty has not yet engaged potential tenants, but appears geared toward attracting low-end retail chains. “We intend to bring affordable, value-based retail tenants to the area and expand the shopping choices available to make this section of Market Street a shopping destination that truly caters to San Francisco's diverse demographic,” the website notes. Our guess is that they aren’t talking about unique, independently owned thrift stores that offer affordable used items and encourage shoppers to support small business, but something more along the lines of TJ Maxx.

The project would also include 188 parking spaces in an underground garage. In contrast, the Westfield mall near Fourth and Market streets was built with no new parking.

Livable Cities has filed an appeal of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for CityPlace on the grounds that transportation issues weren’t adequately dealt with, and the board will vote on the appeal today after opening the item up for public comment. Livable Cities executive director Tom Radulovich noted that the project would demolish the St. Francis Theater, a 1910 building that some had envisioned as a structure that could be rehabbed as part of a revived theater district in that area. He also felt the development was out of character for the neighborhood. “They’ve been given a lot of bonuses, like surplus parking and an excess floor,” Radulovich noted. “We feel like the Planning Department gave them a lot more value -- millions of dollars worth. The public should get something out of it.” Partly out of a desire to improve the area, he said, mid-Market amounted to a sort of “Wild West in terms of planning. That’s been the story is that the only way to move forward is to throw away our rules.”

The developer estimates that the project would create up to 250 union jobs during construction, and 760 new permanent retail positions (that is, non-union, low-wage jobs with high rates of turnover -- but at least it’s something). This could present a quandary for supervisors who might otherwise hold their nose at the idea of approving a big-box mall in the heart of San Francisco. Construction workers are in dire straits right now, and unemployment in the city is nearing 10 percent -- and even higher in communities of color such as the Bayview.

Meanwhile, Newsom urged the crowd of downtown real-estate big shots to get involved in disctrict elections for the Board of Supervisors, lest “you wake up and things get worse quickly.”

The mayor issued a strong warning that “ideology is too strong in this town,” and then referenced the Guardian, speaking to some dangerous influence wielded by “these people who write these blogs."

“You are the only thing standing between a dramatic shift off course in this town,” he told the crowd. “But our opportunities are limitless as long as we have stable leadership. Please take the time to learn about these candidates. Get involved – even in the districts you don’t reside in.”

At the end of Newsom’s speech, everyone applauded and then turned their attention to a short, flashy video about America’s Cup.


Do thrift stores pay that much better than a TJ maxxx?

The neighborhood activists and the rest of the gang have had plenty of time to get mid market together if they had a plan of some sort. The busy bodies don't have any money for anything down there of course, just an opinion on what other people should be doing with the money they have.

Newsom is making the entirely correct assumption that left to their own devices the lefties will dither as mid Market continues to be a drug barn and hot bed for violence and crime.

It interests me that the left bemoans the crapping out of infrastructure state and nationwide, but if we had been blessed with them around when it was being built, our activist betters would have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 1860's, around 1960.

"OK, we will give you railroads but the interstate highway system is bad"

"OK we will give you dams for flood control as well as energy and water for the city of SF, but we draw the line at bridges, it makes it too easy to get into our San Francisco for the unenlightened"

Posted by matlock on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

"The mid-Market area has long faced issues of blight and crime."

Perhaps because it is so close to City Hall?

I happen to like mid-market as it is.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

I would too if it represented regular people and had something to offer the city.

In Portland's old town before it was gentrified there was drug dealing and other crappy behavior, but it also had local bars and other places to go for regular folk to go. As it gentrified there was some awesome places lost. The 6th st area is a toilet full of out of town drug dealer scum bags. If this area was cleaned up there is no reason to lose Aunt Charlies, and we could keep places like the book store down from aunt Charlies that closed years agot.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

"The 6th st area is a toilet full of out of town drug dealer scum bags."

Sixth Street is home to 1956 registered San Francisco voters.

I'd rather spend an afternoon on 6th and Market that at Castro and 24th in Noe Valley or on Chestnut, thanks.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

So those people have to put up with east bay drug dealers as part of living there? I wonder how those 1,956 people feel about that?

I don't exactly know what gentrified areas have to do with your point exactly.

Having drank at the departed Loyds and O'Grady's at 9am when it was nice and quit then leaving at noon too see the vultures move in, I doubt that those 1,956 denizens share your love of the predators.

I also was the only person to show up to testify at an assault trial because all the others called were too afraid of the TL/6th st scum bag to show up. So I do wonder if the locals support your local terrorists?

Posted by matlock on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

It is all about you, your experiences and your needs.

I find Market and Sixth Street refreshing, and if there is any blame for the increased intensity there it goes to recent Mayors who have tried to extirpate the poor from Civic Center and UN Plazas.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

That's an interesting observation after reading many of your posts. har

It is hardly my needs, I can go anywhere for a beer, not a lot of places at 9am anymore sadly, and yes they are my experiences, obviously.

You like it the way it is, which seems to be letting the predators have the run of the area, I am missing something in your posts?

I'm not for gentrification, but I am for such things as jobs being created, closing down the open air drug trade, allowing the citizens of the area to leave their SRO's without fear of being attacked, making it so that people wondering past are not in for being attacked by the out of town thugs, etc... but you like it the way it is I hear?

Maybe we could just put up a fence around that area for you?

Posted by matlock on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

Doh! it brings in the Doh!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 4:29 am

I live in the Market and 6th streets area and welcome mid-Market revitalization. Time will tell if a glass mall is the right prescription.

On the subject of drug dealing in the TL, many if not most of the drug dealers do not live in the Tenderloin and prey upon those who ended up in the TL because of drug addiction.

And much of the drugs changing hands are prescription drugs.

The good news is, there are more foot patrols in the TL than ever before and that's having a big impact on livability. We're also seeing a lot more undercover cops working the streets to stem drug dealing and put the dealers behind bars.

What the City is failing to do is keep vagrants and inebriates from using the sidewalks as a toilet. Yes, there are DPW clean up crews that go around with expensive machinery on a daily basis to sanitize the sidewalks, but this is a costly reactive solution to what is believed to be a preventable act. 24-hour sanitation facilities with showers and toilets, and maybe even a subsidized laundromat, would go a long way to improve not only the lives of TL residents, but would also provide some semblance of dignity to the less fortunate among us.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

destroyed like the North side of Burnside in Portland.

Good post guest

Just stopping it from being a center for the drug trade would improve things massively. You don't just get the locals buying drugs and ruining the place either. When I first moved to the Mission 20 years ago it was known as a place where people could come and do drugs and screw hookers in their cars. It was even in a Hustler mag "article" about the best places in the USA for that sort of behavior. The TL and 6th has that going for it now, losers from all over the area can come and fuck it up.

Yuppies can wonder through the area to add to the problem buying pills, as I have seen.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 15, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

Look, I live in the North Mission which by any measure has everything that Mid Market does not have which boosters claim that Mid Market needs in order to end the blight.

We have vacant storefronts. 1950 Mission has been abandoned for ten years. But we also have all sorts of activated ground floor uses, totally active streetscape.

The scene would be described as vibrant but absent the "people who make more money than you" part.

So I am suspicious that everything that boosters claim is required to remove the blight from Mid Market is dependent upon crappy profitable development that is out of character with San Francisco and further degrades transit.

Might I suggest that boosters are looking to the wrong city department, that instead of turning to the Planning Department, we look to the half a billion dollar police department in order to get them to do their jobs and bust people who make communities unlivable?

Cops want to make it home alive, a worthy goal. This means that they avoid entering into situations where they might get injured or killed. So instead of busting drug dealers, San Franciscans or East Bay Aryans who might be armed to defend their small business, cops prefer to bust the relatively harmless homeless.

So long as dealers remain confined into the containment zone established by the SFPD, running in a half moon from 16th/Mission, through western SOMA and by 6th and Market into the TL, it is business as usual.

This is why we see an open air heroin dealership within one block of the 17th and Mission cop shop and why the TL is still a free for all.

But hey, the alpha and omega of politics is ensuring that the "proper" designees are the recipients of public largess, in this case that mantra is satisfied with developers, cops and drug dealers all continuing to be catered to by City government.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 16, 2010 @ 8:37 am

Marcos has the Limbaugh like "no wrong answer methodology down"

It's the; planning department, it's the cops, it's the drug dealers, i like it as it is, we need jobs, jobs suck, its out of place, its hard on transit, its good for transit, put people first, experts I agree with agree, it's too far from transit, it's too close to transit, it's too dense it's not dense enough, it's too tall, it's too short, it's too wide, it's all about you, it's all about me, it's about your experience, it's all about my experience, cops suck, cops should do their jobs, drug dealers are just businessmen, drug dealers suck...

what is it today that your expertise insists on?

Posted by matlock on Sep. 16, 2010 @ 9:07 am

I love your scientific methodology. We need to do "x" to solve this tremendously pressing social problem, but even though we did "x" elsewhere, those tremendously pressing social problems persist. So let's do "x" here anyway.

Perhaps the tremendously pressing social problems are if not fabrications magnified disproportionate to their real significance, political manipulations designed to distract from the real problems. Politicians would NEVER, EVER do anything like that in order to shift cash from the public balance sheet onto the private, where it naturally belongs according to economic sharia.

Mid Market is plenty vibrant, plenty vital. The desire is to change the vibrancy, to change the vitality so that other people besides the ones already there can thrive and generate some coin.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 16, 2010 @ 10:37 am

That stream of consciousness bit is very puzzling.

I don't know what that has to do with anything I posted. Marc I think you assume that everyone that doesn't agree with you holds an opinion that was given them by some AM radio shouter, because thats the only other world view out there to you.

Here's your justifications to get your way. Whatever your position is just pick one today because you can just pick another one tomorrow

1 It's a burden on transit
2. everyone should take transit,
3. business needs to be built close to transit
4. housing needs to be built close to transit
5. it involves making money so its bad
6. People need jobs
7. Taxes are too low
8. Its for people who spend money so we don't need it
9. Those are jobs we don't need
10 Rich people suck
11. Classism is bad
12. The business that person ran failed
13. I support people who could never run a business
14. Class is important
15. Class is meaningless
16. Its about race
17 Its not about race
18 cops are good
19 cops are bad
20 That person was on the police commission when it didn't work
21 That person was on the police commission when it didn't work but I agree with thats persons view on everything else so they are great.
22 drug dealers are bad
23 drug dealers are part of the community too

Posted by matlock on Sep. 16, 2010 @ 11:41 am

More excusifying as to why government is designed to extract wealth from communities to redistribute it towards those who are already doing well.

We need to just sit back and accept our lot as peons in a world of capital accumulation where it naturally gravitates towards its rightful owners.

Not to worry, San Francisco is an infinite sink for all impacts that make others rich, while we are an infinite source for entitlements and largess for the already rich.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 17, 2010 @ 7:56 am

The sixth street LOdging district AKA as The Sixth street corridor from hell will never climb out of the drug dealing hole without harm reduction techniques such as Cannabis sold OTC and Taxed to Help with social Issues.We can see it Now with a Police shortage.The New Police sub station will be just like the tenderloin station, USELESS.
The facts are that San Franciisco can't arrest their way out of this.There needs to be Harm Reduction Now San Francisco.

Posted by Tim Giangiobbe on Nov. 22, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

The SRO Housing Shortage created by the removal of THOUSANDS of SROs has had an effect on The Market street theater district.
The BART Big Dig happened and the area has not been the same since.I remember a safe sixth street corridor from hell.

The Redevelopment Agency has already SCREWED the POOR.
Time to revitalize the THEATER district not demolish it.
Until more SROs are built the homeless Issues that plague the city will just become worse.The Homeless have to deal with the Drug Dealers that come from other areas to sell their wares.
The BART brings customers to dealers or new stores take your pick.
It is not Gentrification until the SROs have been demolished on Sixth street.
The IMPROVEMENTS are needed right next to the NEW SROs.
SERIOUSLY there was thousnads of SROs RAZED.The Habitat for OLD MEN.

Those Old Men are now on the STREETS.

What a world Class Job of Hate,Apathy and Ignorance.

SF is heartless when Homeless Baby boomers are dying in Doorways.

The Commnuity Housing Parnership is the answer.
Then have members of the White House Council for Community solutions give our ideas to OBAMA.

OBAMA hired mY Uncle Maurice Lim Miller.
There will be no free rides.
He believes in a :POVERTY free nation.
That we WORK FOR!
Great CHOICE Barack!
Time for a Change.
Time to quit enabling down statistics and drug addiction.

Posted by Guest Tim Giangiobbe on Jan. 03, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

Matlock is so correct that YUPPIES BUY PILLS and POT.Harm Reduction sales of cannabis and pain clinics takes most of this issue away quickly.
The Drug Nazis are in Charge they love black markets for drugs and anything made illegal.
Al Capone did not make money off booze when prohibition was repealed and that was one of the nails in his coffin.
Be Real San Francisco can not arrest their way out of Street Drug sales.

Posted by Tim Giangiobbe on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 8:28 am