21 July 2007

Land use plan emerges

First, take a look at the Argus and Merc articles. The first article has links to three new PDF's that contain descriptions of the buildings in the core village and two views of overall layout:
Context A and B differ in one major way: timing. Context A shows the development after all of the residential units have been built. Context B shows the development some years prior to completion. Instead of housing west of Cushing Parkway, 5,970 surface parking spaces are shown. For the first few years, that parking combined with the planned parking east of Christy Street and additional spaces in both the village and the Albrae lot (across Auto Mall) should provide plenty of parking. By the end of 2016, all of the extra parking will be replaced by townhomes (and probably the school), but that gives the A's several years to truly gauge parking demand. If demand is high enough, additional garage parking can be built to make up for the loss. Interestingly enough, the Giants are facing their own parking loss, as the Port of S.F. has to decide what to do with a 14-acre parking lot across McCovey Cove from AT&T Park.

The best part is that according to the lease plan there will be 3,110 spaces set aside for retail use. Obviously, much of that parking will be claimed by retailers and the hotel, among other commericial uses. But there's no reason why a good portion won't be available for game attendees as well. And the funny thing is that I added up all of the non-residential parking shown there, and I got 4,510 spaces. So it would appear that at least for a few years, there's the possibility of over 10,000 spaces in the immediate vicinity. It'll be nicely broken up due to the design plan. Whatever the final number is, I don't get the sense that the A's are terribly worried about it.

There are also a pair of mystery elements: ramps that appear to run underneath the village. The ramps may be service entrances to the ballpark's outfield. They may also lead to additional parking for players, team employees, and VIP's.

Moving over to retail, the big surprise was a theater smack dab in the middle of the village. Articles refer to it as a movie theater, but that isn't a given. Small multiplexes such as the CineArts (Century) brand in Santana Row, Marin, and Pleasant Hill usually show smaller budget and independent films, and it could make sense in this location because the only nearby indie moviehouses are across the Dumbarton Bridge in Palo Alto.

However, a more interesting move would be some kind of performing arts center. Currently the only one in the city is the Gary Soren Smith Center on the Ohlone College campus, and it's just a little over a decade old. There would be a huge question of financing such a complex, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be on the table for discussion. Perhaps there's a way to split the 54,000 s.f. allotted for the theater so it could accommodate both a live theater facility and a smaller film multiplex. The movie theater would be the bean-counter's choice since a private concern would capitalize and operate it. A performing arts center would be a far more culturally significant venue.

Ah, but there's more. Certain buildings in the village have been identified as anchors. Those orange blocks are in the north corner (upper right) and southwest area (left). The north anchors are around 30,000 s.f., which should accommodate a multitude of large retailers such as Crate and Barrel and Best Buy. The intriguing space is the 140,000 s.f., two-level southwest space. Based on size and location, I'd lay my money on Nordstrom being the tenant, since a typical Nordstrom is around that size.

The school's location still needs to be worked out, and the transit hub needs to be addressed. There's plenty of time to make those elements work.