15th and Van Ness Condos: ‘You’ve shopped at the Apple Store, now live in one’

Reader J9 sends us this:

These weird developer people came by my apartment today telling me that were going to build a bunch of gross loft condos down the street from my apartment at 15th street and S. van ness.

Take a look here:http://www.1501-15thstreet.com/

These condos don’t even look inhabitable- the buildings look like weird Darth Vader office buildings.

In case you’re a part of the Rebel Alliance, there’s a meeting tonight where you can discuss your concerns with the lack of neo-Victorian detailing in these chic living obelisks. Maybe you can glance at the plans and locate an unshielded thermal exhaust port:

Come to the 1501 15th Street Neighborhood Meeting on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011. The meeting will be held in Annunciation Cathedral at 245 Valencia Street @ 14th Street.

The Empire appears to be trying to evade dissent by not posting an actual start time, but rest assured, we have a contacted them and will update with the relevant info when we get it.

Update: Meeting starts at 6pm

155 Responses to “15th and Van Ness Condos: ‘You’ve shopped at the Apple Store, now live in one’”

  1. piratensnack says:

    It is very important to me that other people live in buildings that I aesthetically approve of.

    • Dave says:

      This design does not match my personal twee-precious fantasy of what the Mission is supposed to look like.

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  2. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    Wow. Those are pretty seriously horrible.

    But, on the bright side, I’m sure they’ll be built like shit and need to be replaced in 20 years.

    • SFdoggy says:

      I think these are actually more interesting than many things that are being built; Those boxy buildings with boxy bay windows (see 18th and Valencia) are getting pretty tiresome. I have no idea how these fit into their surroundings, but they don’t seem that bad in isolation — and I am not a huge fan of much of modern architecture.

  3. Dave says:

    Oh look! It’s new! let’s all hate it.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      There’s plenty of new architecture that does not look as craptacular and unimaginative as this piece of dross.

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  4. MrEricSir says:

    Maybe they should hire an architect who didn’t flunk out of 2nd grade?

    • Dave says:

      Because good architects don’t want to design buildings in San Francisco because they know that their designs will be scrutinized by people who think they actually know something about architecture.

      • MrEricSir says:

        Yes, the common, lowly man is unable to judge what’s hideously ugly. Obviously that takes years of intensive training. Thanks for setting me straight with your amazing wisdom!

        • Dave says:

          You’re welcome.
          I look forward to seeing your highly informed PowerPoint presentation on why you think bay windows are neat! at the next city planning meeting.

          • MrEricSir says:

            Hey I don’t even need to do that, since the city’s building code already includes that.

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  5. Dave says:

    “Lack of neo-victorian charm.”
    Yes, every new building should have “neo-victorian” crap on it:
    Because we still live in 1892, wear knickers and carry around parasols.
    Because buildings with neo-victorian charm look sooooo great in this city.
    Because the mission should always look like a dump.

    • MrEricSir says:

      If you don’t like the way SF looks, you can always move to San Jose or something.

      • Dave says:

        If you don’t like new things, You could always move to Bolinas.

        • Simon says:

          Unfortunately, it would cost at least 4x as much if they were built to the standards of victorian era.

          • Iknowrebekah says:


          • MrEricSir says:

            Cash really what it comes down to, especially when we’re in a recession. Building ugly crap out of off-the-shelf parts at Home Depot like this building is a lot cheaper than installing curved glass and wood, cutting wood at angles, designing livable elements like light wells, etc. etc.

          • Alai says:

            So everything that’s built should be done to luxury specs? Are people really proposing that the city ban affordable housing construction?

            Then people turn around and complain that there isn’t enough, and want the city to subsidize it.

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    • AttF says:

      As someone who builds affordable housing, I’d throw a contractor off the job if he showed up with anything from Home Depot. From the lumber to fixtures, that stuff is pure garbage. There is plenty of quality product out there that is available for standard cost. Most of what folks pay for in “luxury” buildings like this is the glossy shiny finish.

  6. Drew says:

    These look amazing!

    Not as nice as a stucco faux Victorian, though.

  7. Jane says:

    I live on this block too (J9, hey neighbor!) and got this letter, googled it and was incensed to see this.

    I don’t understand why rich people want to live in cheaply-constructed Ikea boxes … but rich people so a lot of gross things I don’t understand (wear True Religion jeans, drink Midori, drive Audis) so go figure. I just wish developers would try to preserve the architectural character of this neighborhood instead of turning it into Emeryville. To this firm’s credit, they have done this with a handful of their other buildings, like the apartments above Goood Frikin’ Chicken and their building on 14th across from Thieves.

    • Dave says:

      Seriously? Have you seen Bay Street in Emeryville?

      • Stu says:

        Dave, do you work for these people? Why so touchy?

        • Dave says:

          Nope. I don’t work for them.
          I just don’t get why there is so much anti-progressive architecture sentiment in this city. Sure, victorians are cute and all, if you like things like “Ann of Green Gables” and bad space planning and shit. But do new building in SF really HAVE to look like fake copies of old architectural styles? This city is ULTRA conservative when it comes to art and architecture. Is craptorian architecture really all that great??? Seriously, Go over to Emeryville and take a look at the Bay Street development ’cause that’s what gets built when we push developers to do “Faux-Victorian.” Is that really what you want???

          • Stu says:

            Well, they are just differing opinions then aren’t they? I, and many others seem to think these shitboxes look like a cheap and fast way to cram people in there for as much as they can get away with charging. The old “craptorian” architecture is half of the beauty of this city, for me. We’re supposed to be (we pride ourselves on being, anyway) an imaginative city. Where is the imagination in these lego structures? If this is “progressive architecture then, yes, I am anti.

          • Dave says:

            So would you say that victorian architecture is the best we can do? We shouldn’t even bother trying to design new things because there’s no way we can top the victorian style. Is that right? Sure, This particular design may look a little bland (to you). But borrowing fake details from an outdated architectural style that was borrowed in the first place is not very “imaginative” either.
            I agree with you that there are a handful of some very beautiful victorian and edwardian buildings in this city. They have lots of charm and they do contribute to the beauty of this city. But, like it or not, this city IS growing and new things do get built. I would rather see this city embrace and encourage forward thinking design when it comes to NEW construction rather than get hung up on sentimentality and nostalgia.

          • Stu says:

            Nah, I never said Victorian architecture was the best we could do. Are we looking at the same picture here? Show me the forward thinking involved in these buildings and I might actually agree. A 5 year old could have said “let’s put some silver rectangles here with windows on them”. That is all.

          • Dave says:

            Can’t really speak for the architect. Personally, I don’t really see what’s so offensive about this design. Maybe you should go to the meeting and listen to what the architect has to say about the design. You might learn something.

          • Quin2013 says:

            You know what? I Agree, this city needs architecture with a wow factor, not this square looking stuff. It’s terribly plane.

            I hope some artist paints an awesome mural to cover the ugly facet.

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    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Jane: yeah, they did a decent job with the Building that GFC is in. Doesn’t stick out like an ugly, ugly box in the same way that these planned apartments do.

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    • SFdoggy says:

      @Jane: What is wrong with Audis? Would you prefer BMW’s?

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  8. hoboking says:

    I for one will miss the classic Victorian sensibilities of the vacant lot these boxes will replace. Still it’s nice to know that the inhabitants of this development will still be able to enjoy the ‘old timey Frisco’ feel of the moribund gas station across the way.

    Seriously folks – that intersection is a brownfield. Also, personally, I prefer even a pedestrian attempt at new architecture to another to the Potemkin Victorian developments that seem to be popping up.

  9. Iknowrebekah says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but one of the things I enjoy about SF is being able to look around me as I wander the City & see gorgeous buildings. The problem with this ISN’T the newness of it, it’s the fact that it lacks character.

    • Quin2013 says:


      The plainness of the building is just plain boring. No wow factor that this city needs to keeps it beauty that world-wide known.

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  10. simon stark says:

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  11. Sweet T says:

    Exhibitionist-chic. Who needs drapery? I’d like the entire neighborhood to witness my robust social life and impeccable interior decorating sensibilities.

  12. Vic Wong says:

    Honestly, joking aside, I really don’t care what kinds of buildings pop up. Don’t get me wrong, I love Victorians. But I also like utilitarian green modular eco cubes with living roofs, wind turbines, solar panels.

    Aesthetics change over time. Sometimes those aesthetics suck. Look at Fox Plaza and 100 Van Ness. Gross buildings. But also hilarious and entertaining to look at and slap your forehead about now. In a place as diverse as SF, ugly things are welcome too. Don’t worry, there will always be Victorians in SF for at least as long as Full House reruns still air, so you can go see them whenever you want.

    I’m sure some people thought Victorian architecture was gaudy and tasteless when it surfaced in SF too. Just enjoy the snapshot of your times and let history be the judge.

  13. funkalow says:

    No balconies!? In the Mission!? Fail.

    Mission residents need outdoor space, not more sealed dens for the accumulation of consumer goods.

    We choose the Mission, and much of San Francisco, for the good climate… Let’s have balconies on all new construction PLEASE.

    • marcos says:

      This project also throws the finger to the neighborhood in that it does not respect the rear yard pattern that makes the Mission special. We get sharp shinned, red tail and coopers’ hawks as well as hummingbirds.

      The worst part is that the building is situated such that it would have a south facing rear yard and that would integrate it into the neighborhood instead of turning its back on us. Part of the Mission is having an interior courtyard so that you can have slightly more intimacy with neighbors, that is a wave from the porch knowledge of them, than one would otherwise have when wearing urban armor on the street.

      Combine that with the remote control garage door and elevator to the condo, and you’ve got a sealed auto accessible capsule dropped into a really cool neighborhood to the south west. I’ve lived here for 22 years and love it.

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  14. sfnola says:

    I wonder how many people even bothered to notice that these are actually being built at 15th and South Van Ness, not 15th and Valencia as the title implies.

    I also bet that there wouldn’t be 20+ comments on “15th and South Van Ness Condos…” because most wouldn’t give a shit about the aesthetics if it wasn’t on they’re walk between Zeitgeist and the Elbo Room.

    • Vic Wong says:

      That was a typo. It has been fixed. Valencia/S Van Ness, same thing right? Ok S Van Ness has more poop on the sidwalk.

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  15. Harrmmm says:

    They should have made this building look like a pirate ship. I think many of the bums of 16th x mission BART station would fill in as wonderful pirate actors.

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  16. Eon says:

    J9 should look up the definition of “inhabitable.”

  17. Leslie Low says:

    SF’s navel-gazing has no end. Everyone’s a critic. You haven’t even posted pictures of the units inside. You want unique and individual? Stop wearing flannel and beards and hanging in the fucking park!

  18. Urban density isn’t going anywhere soon. Maybe it’s the new standard and people are tired of it, but at least the appliances, electricity, and plumbing are up to date. Can’t afford it? Go back to school, fool!

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  19. MrEricSir says:

    Amazing how many people in this thread have no taste.

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  20. QueSaraSara says:

    Wow, this thread is uh-mazing!

    I am being pulled by it’s gravitational force to add my own very important opinions:

    1. Victorian and Edwardian architecture is pretty. We all like it. Yay! By definition it’s an architectural style from 150 years ago, appropriate to the building techniques/materials/industry of the day. I know: let’s enjoy and coo over our pretty Victorians and Edwardians AND build things appropriate to OUR day and age!

    2. This design seems relatively tolerable/innocuous to me (read: it could be a whole helluva lot worse in the ugly department people!) However, it would be a whole helluva lot better if it were made out of SHIPPING CONTAINERS! Please feel free to hate on that concept now.

    3. More housing=people can live there. Cool… Empty brown lot=people walk by and ignore the uselessness and depressing aesthetic of it. Hmmm…

    4. Balconies FTW! I dream of a balcony

    5. Wouldn’t it be cool if people cared this passionately and spoke up about more important stuff? Immigration reform. Go!

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  21. stiiv says:

    No doubt the architects are skilled or whatever, but these don’t look that good. We’ve got a bunch of similar places over on my side of The Mission. Here’s what’s wrong with them.

    Who the hell lives there? Seriously, I have no idea. I even know a few people who live in one condo or another and I still have no fucking clue. These places are all interior and no exterior. Maybe they’re great to live in, but they suck to walk past.

    For instance, let’s take those pretty umbrellas around the drawing. Why are they there? Is there a restaurant at the bottom? If not, I very much doubt the residents are going to be spontaneously sitting at tables on the sidewalk. It’s like the architects know what’s wrong with these places and toss a little flair around to compensate.

    The place looks like the box a building comes in and it integrates with the neighborhood like a six pack of Coors at a rave. Not living up to your potential: C-

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Well said.

    • Dave says:

      So you don’t like buildings like this because you personally don’t know the people who live there, are offended by superfluous umbrellas and it makes you think of drinking cheap beer at a rave??? Be sure to bring up all of these points at the meeting tonight. I’m sure everyone there will really appreciate your input.

      • marcos says:

        The building has parking and elevators from the garage up to the condos. It has no rear yard facing the interior courtyard like all other homes on that block where I live. It turns its back on the community, insulates its condo dwellers in their cars and units and gives nothing back to the community.

        It needs less parking, much less parking, that parking has to be moved onto SVN, not 15th which runs by an elementary school that has a very high percentage of students who walk to school. The developer says that the commercial spaces need unbroken frontages on SVN and we think that the trade off puts kids at Marshall School in danger. That is a show stopper, business over students does not fly at the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors and for damn good reason.

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  22. Junk Thief says:

    The bastard child of Steve Jobs and Joseph Stalin.

  23. TJ says:

    Note to any progressive architects: we like our filth!

    • stiiv says:

      The filth just cozies up to a building like that. As soon as everybody moves in they stop taking care of the plants quite so much. At least of a couple of ‘em grow out of control because they picked stuff that wasn’t appropriate. The trash blows up against it and gets stuck in the nooks and crannies. Oh, and all those nice open looking areas get gated off cause of the bums. [I mean really, 15th and Van Ness?]

      So great, another fortress stuck down in the middle of The Mission. Other than tax revenues I’m not sure how this differs from a vacant lot.

  24. Tuffy says:

    I wish they were taller.

  25. Quin2013 says:

    Here’s a solution, Stop building condo’s and make it more affordable for the working people to actually afford a place in the city.

    • mike says:

      That’s a problem statement. What’s your solution? Specifically, what would be an alternative for the private lot owner of this space to resolve the problem you mention above?

      • Indeed. In fact, I suspect that these buildings are the solution, because building them will tempt people with loads of money out of the rent-controlled, Edwardian slums they have been hogging, thereby making them available to Quin2013, who will then be removed from the waiting list for subsidized project housing, and thus provide room for genuinely broke people who don’t have the wherewithall to give a rat’s ass about anybody’s housing but their own, regardless of the neighborhood or architectural style. Win-win-win!

        I believe it’s called “trickle-down-economics”, and, in this case, I think it works.

        • Quin2013 says:

          I actually have a great two bedroom apt.

          I’m talking about people that are honest to god hard working people that deserve to stay in the city, unlike asshole’s that take advantage of a system because they are too fucking lazy to work.

        • marcos says:

          When purchase prices are flagging and falling, adding new purchase units to the market will accomplish two things. First added supply will drive DOWN purchase prices and put everyone who purchased within 1/4 mile over the past 10 years at risk of losing a good chunk of equity over the next five years minimum. Second, since it will put downward pressure on housing prices, most folks will not get into the purchase market until there is some stability in the market. Where will they live? They will rent, and probably in the Edwardian Slums that make up the neighborhood now, the kind of place I like to live and own, and drive UP rents making the neighborhood less affordable.

          Falling housing prices in a climate of high unemployment and falling wages does not increase affordability. This deal is only good for the developer and possibly hypothetical San Franciscans who might live there maybe one day. For those of us who live here, whether we rent or own, this is a very bad business deal for us.

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            1)new housing wont be for real san franciscans
            2)new housing will invite new people, who will skew the political demographics of sf
            3)new housing will cause him to personally lose equity in the mission district condo he owns.

            Just so you follow his logic… people who can afford to own will not purchase until prices go up (because inherent risk is greatest when prices are low??) so therefore depressing the market will cause said homeseekers to rent – got that?

            I’ll leave you with a choice quote from Salomon recently published in the examiner:
            ““As a gay man who’s been around a lot of penis, I think foreskin is there for a reason,” Salomon said.”

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      Yes and I’d like a magical unicorn that poops rainbows to ride around San Francisco.

    • I’ll repeat what Mike wrote, since you weren’t honest enough to answer it when he wrote it:

      “That’s a problem statement. What’s your solution? Specifically, what would be an alternative for the private lot owner of this space to resolve the problem you mention above?”

      Go on — we’re all waiting. Please frame your answer as a response conforming to reality.

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  26. prince says:

    Wow people have a lot of opinions about building something on my block on the poopy abandoned gas station, across from the abandoned parking lot and the sketchy used car lot.

    Balconies was the comment that actually made sense to me.

    The flimsy little trees and plant boxes in the picture probably won’t be much help to ease the overabundance of concrete and filth.

    They look like they’ll get sunlight inside at least.

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  27. Joe says:

    Sorry, having a little bit of a hard time dealing with the meta concept of super conformist mission types hating on modern architecture.
    This is the embodiment of the whole american apparel mess of a few years ago.
    They only good part is that all of you anti anything non twee in SF hipster conformist douches is that your parents will stop paying rent eventually, and you’ll settle down in Paramus hating your life.

    While you’re busy masturbating to knob and tube wiring and horse hair plaster, the other people of the mission are going about their lives – just a little too busy to comment on a website about a proposed development

  28. The Problem with Larry says:

    I think they look great. I live close by and I want them built. SO there.

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  29. scum says:

    They are going up on a lot that was a old gas station turned into a monthly parking lot had a lot of old junkers on it and a old pervert dude that had a white van and would walk around with his dick hanging cruising dudes.

  30. Sweet T says:


    Your aesthetic preferences are wrong

    No, your aesthetic preferences are wrong

    Well, your ideas concerning neighborhood development are wrong.

    No, your ideas concerning neighborhood development are wrong.

    I live in this neighborhood.

    No, I live in this neighborhood.

    But, your occupation and/or hobbies have no redeeming social value.

    No, your occupation and/or hobbies have no redeeming social value.

    You’re a conformist.

    No, you are.


  31. ernesto says:

    So is this building being built on 14th and Valencia or 15th and Van Ness?

    Because there was a sign that read JS Sullivan on the corner of 14th and Valencia

    • marcos says:

      Sullivan is building both projects. 14th and Valencia puts 3 parking spaces per 4 units on Stevenson, a special exemption up from 1 space per 2 units, which dump out to bike lanes on 14th and Valencia. Brilliant!

      • bikeman says:

        Oh noes, won’t someone think about the bikes?!

        • joe says:

          You mean the bikes ridden by lily white gentrifiers of a latino neighborhood? Lily white gentrifiers who work to make sure nobody else can move into their hood?

          • If it was ever ONLY a Latino neighborhood, Mission-born-and-bred-types would pronounce “Valencia” correctly.

            And brown-skin people ride fuck-loads of bikes. The only differences are that the bikes are those dinky child-sized bikes, and they ride them on the sidewalks.

            :D :D :D

  32. Where’s 15th and Van Ness? Is that near 15th and South Van Ness?

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  34. Zig says:

    These are relatively nice looking buildings (I like the way they are broken up rather than being squat and continuous wall) that someone wants to build at a shuttered gas station in the armpit block of the Mission (and this is saying A LOT).

    Most of you won’t even be living here in five years. What difference does it make to you?

  35. Seriously says:

    Who really gives a crap? People who just moved here, that’s who. Lonely bloggers, self-entitled experts in the art of pretending like you know something when you’re only 24. I’ve been here 25 years and can’t wait to get out of this f’d up town and move to a city where people act like the’ve been ballin for awhile. You’re a grip of spoiled, NIMBY-ass acting kooks, the lot of you.
    Sod off.

  36. Startup says:

    Uh oh, this is a start up of something modern. Next thing you know, they’ll be 10 more of these ‘condos’ in 10 years!

  37. DoubleD's says:

    J9 is a nasty skank who gave me herps. Watch out people of the Mission!!

  38. Mazzy says:

    I LOVE These. What, you want more victorians or Eduardians? This is 2011!!!

  39. marcos says:

    Silvio Berlusconi’s favorite Milan whorehouse, circa 1983. I believe that Duran Duran performed there at the time.

  40. GG says:

    TL;DR: I have strong opinions about the appearance of buildings I will see only occasionally, and will extrapolate their proposed appearance out to general statements about SF’s social/economic problems and/or the mindset of the prior commenter!!!

  41. cassie says:

    God forbid a building might be built in SF that doesn’t look like it was just lifted out of 18F-ing92

    For a city filled with such avant guard hippy dippy grungey progressive, uber liberal what nots – You all are such a bunch of whiney CONSERVATIVE NIMBY MORONS who – BTW – HAVE REALLY SHITTY TASTE IN OLD CRAPPY ARCHITECTURE THAT IS FALLING DOWN, NEEDS LOTS OF WORK TO MAINTAIN AND HAS THE AESTHETIC APPEAL OF A SMALL DARK BOX….that usually are firetraps and a nightmare to repair –

    I know – I’ve renovated a few of them – and the funny thing is – all the whiney jerks who complain NONSTOP about modern architecture….love them…cause they’re clean and modern….

    go figure

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