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With 150 Van Ness Approval, Civic Center's Residential Makeover Advances

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Yesterday afternoon, developer Emerald Fund's proposed 13-story apartment building at 150 Van Ness had its day in front of the Planning Commission. Parents and representatives of the neighboring Montessori preschool, LePort, packed the house, taking exception to a building that would cut off views from the back of the school to what is currently a windswept Hayes Street parking lot. (For more on the much-contested five feet, six inches of space separating the two properties, see our report from yesterday.) After almost three hours of proceedings, and some tears, the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to approve the project. 150 Van Ness's now officially entitled 420 rentals round out Emerald Fund's trio of residential projects around Market and Van Ness, whose combined 1,000 units are rapidly transforming the intersection into a residential hub.

150 Van Ness's makeover will demolish a vacant eight-story office building—once part of the AAA office complex, to which the adjacent 100 Van Ness also belonged—and put up 420 apartments (50 of them below market rate) over 9,000 square feet of retail. The recently opened 100 Van Ness brought 418 rentals, and Emerald Fund is also currently building 162 units at 101 Polk, which is slated to open in December. The developer's 1,000 units join the 308 residences proposed for One Oak (a.k.a. the Talking Tower), designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz and Snøhetta. The district's residential reboot fulfills the vision laid out in the Market and Octavia Area Plan, which calls for a high-density mixed-use neighborhood around Market Street's transit connections.

The LePort School, which had hoped to find a way to put more light and air between the rear of their building and 150 Van Ness, withdrew its opposition partway into the Planning hearing.

Parents still stood up to object, however, and the hearing went on for about two hours longer before Planning's unanimous vote.

Reached after the hearing, LePort's Bay Area executive director and vice president of outreach, Heike Larson, expressed her support for the project. She emailed us this statement:

We were pleased to hear Emerald Fund reiterate publicly their commitment to the mitigations they agreed on to make to ensure the children at our school will be safe and free from unreasonable noise and dust impact during construction. We are hopeful that with their expertise, they will be able to secure up to eleven additional windows for the northern façade of our school, and appreciate their efforts to work within the constraints of their design to maximize daylight in our classrooms once construction is completed. We thank also our parent body for their contributions to this process; our LePort parents are an exemplar of the type of thoughtfulness, energy, and high-mindedness that makes San Francisco such a wonderful and irreplaceable community. We look forward to working together with the Emerald Fund and our parents to implement the mitigation plan as construction commences on this project, and to maintaining an unwavering commitment to offer the very best to the children under our care.

Marc Babsin, principal of Emerald Fund, echoed Larson's praise of their newfound neighborly collaboration (sharing: it's preschool gospel!). "Emerald Fund greatly appreciates the efforts of the LePort School administration to work with us and the parents to find some common ground in a very short time period," Babsin told Curbed. "We look forward to creating and sharing a neighborhood with the LePort school. I imagine that many of our future residents will be thrilled to enroll their children in the LePort Montessori school."

With entitlements in hand, Emerald Fund will begin demolishing the old 150 Van Ness as soon as its demolition permit is issued.

· On the Border of a Proposed Residential Tower and a Preschool, a Lesson in Sharing [Curbed SF]
· Previous Coverage of 100 Van Ness [Curbed SF]
· Civic Center Rental Project Looking for a Green Light [Curbed SF]
· New Snøhetta Design Revealed for Tower at Market, Van Ness [Curbed SF]
· After Opening Its Mouth, Snøhetta's Tower Can't Be Silenced [Curbed SF]