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Bay Area buildings and neighborhoods we broke up with in 2017: Year in review

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Industry notables fess up

Tribune Tower in Oakland.
Tribune Tower in Oakland.
Photo by Victor R. Ruiz

As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked informed locals in San Francisco’s architectural, design, and x-factor industries to reveal their thoughts on 2017. Here are the constructions and neighborhoods that—alas—proved less than appealing this year.


Victoria Fierce (organizer with East Bay for Everyone):

“I've reduced my relationship with the Tribune Tower to passing acquaintances. We see each other on my walking commute to the East Bay for Everyone office but hardly spare a glance. Earlier this year a group of pro-gentrification preservationists fought hard to preserve views of the tower, going so far as to ask if ‘low income units were worth the destruction of this unique view.’ Really? Below market rate housing is absolutely worth losing the view of a tower constructed by an openly racist state senator who worked hard to break the general strike back in the day?”

David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects):

“As a Boomer myself, I'm parting ways with the old Boomer ideas about all our neighborhoods, and I'm trying to get my fellow Boomers to ‘break up’ with them too. We need to let go of the old Sunset, the old Mission. It's time to let our neighborhoods evolve and densify to house our children, grandchildren—everyone. “

Sally Kuchar (cities director, Curbed):

“It's more of a requirement that the city of San Francisco should abandon. I am so done with ground floor retail in residential buildings. It doesn't work; nearly half of the spaces in San Francisco proper are vacant (all of Nema's 13,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space has been empty since the building opened years ago). This is an idea that failed. We need to be smarter about how what to do with these spaces.”

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↑ Marcel Wilson (founder/design director at Bionic, 2017 Curbed Groundbreaker):

The Powell Street Bart station.

Anne Fougeron (architect/founder, Fougeron Architecture):

“I broke up with SOMA: the overall quality of this neighborhoods has suffered greatly in the past few years. Gone is the industrial chic and in is the dirt and grim. Needs a major scrubbing.”

Mark Jensen (principal architect, Jensen Architects):

“Wanted to break up with the neighborhood underground: the capacity and reach of Muni and BART systems are a generation behind our current transportation needs. And how have the stations become so degraded when they could be grand civic spaces, underground rooms used by so many of us everyday?”

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Richie Nakano (chef, restaurateur, consultant at ChefsFeed):

“Hayes Valley has become so difficult to navigate lately that I mostly try to steer clear of it, which is hard since my four of my favorite restaurants—the place I do pop ups at, and my workplace—are all there. It’s just so tiny, and is crowded as hell and seemingly has construction happening on every other corner.”

Adam Brinklow (associate editor, Curbed SF):

“I'm psychologically boycotting the East Cut, expressly in response to the name East Cut. (As a rule, if it's a decent name for a barber shop, it's probably not meant to be as a neighborhood moniker.)”

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties):

“The Sunset-Parkside industrial complex. Having to tell our buyers that the $899,000 list price for another four-bed, four-bath, 2,300-square-foot remodeled Sunset house is just a teaser price is getting tedious. Also, would a bit of design originality in the area hurt anyone? The folks at East Star Building Supply have dictated more of how San Franciscans live than many of the city’s best designers. And did every house flipper get the Thermador three-piece appliance special that included a dishwasher or hood too?”

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↑ Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine):

The Tenderloin. For ten years we had a kinda toxic relationship—I liked all the exciting things it had to offer, but it was always promising to change and then falling back on bad habits. Plus, I grew up, had some kids, and it definitely wasn't ready to settle down and quit with the open-air heroin use and public defecation. I knew from the start it wasn't my forever neighborhood, but we had a lot of fun and it taught me a lot, including what my non-negotiables were when picking my next neighborhood. (Safety, more pleasant smell, a few trees that didn't catch on fire every couple weeks)”

Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

SoMa has really tried my patience this last year—between the construction and traffic queuing up at the access points to the freeways the streets have become parking lots and impossible to negotiate your way though.”

Malo André Hutson (professor of urban planning, U.C. Berkeley):

“I use to go to the Uptown neighborhood in Oakland all the time, but since Ozumo’s and Pican closed, the area has lost its feel for me. I do still go to Luka’s Taproom for good drinks and food and to Era Art Bar and Lounge when I want to hear a DJ spinning the best hits.”