Treasure Island development slims down 

Tall buildings will rise on Treasure Island, but the prospect of consistently narrow towers was rebuked by The City’s planning chief because they might resemble Vancouver, British Columbia.

Draft design guidelines for the redevelopment of Treasure Island — where new stores, a hotel and thousands of new homes are planned to be built in the coming decades — were presented Wednesday by master developers and city staff to island directors.

Much of the Oakland-facing part of the artificially made island will be left as public open space, parks and a farm or community garden.

But the San Francisco- and Yerba Buena Island-facing elements of the sparsely populated island are planned to be heavily developed.

Most of the buildings will be residential and reach up to five stories.

But at least a handful of towers reaching up to 650 feet, about 60 stories, are planned that will forever change the view from
The Embarcadero.

To improve the pedestrian experience on the island and minimize shadows, developers propose limiting the width of the new towers.

Additionally, streets are orientated in an unusual triangular pattern to minimize wind and maximize the amount of sunlight at the ground level.

A 600-foot tower could not be built wider than 150 feet, under the draft guidelines. A 450-foot tower could be up to 145 feet wide.

Squat, 70-foot buildings, on the other hand, could grow up to 200 feet wide.

“The story here is the visibility of towers,” San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim said. “They’ll be more visible than anything downtown or anything in any part of The City.”

Rahaim said the guidelines need to be flexible and also need to be crafted to prevent multiple tall buildings from being constructed to the same height.

If too many towers are built to similar heights following the narrow-building guidelines, then the island could resemble downtown Vancouver, according to Rahaim.

“The bigger problem with Vancouver is that there is incredible monotony,” Rahaim said. “It’s all perfectly done and it’s all boring.”

Expected development costs rose by roughly $250 million during the past four years, in part because the Navy is asking for more than $100 million for the island.

Those additional costs are being offset by reduced spending on parks, by renting instead of purchasing three ferries and by developing larger housing units, according to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s economic adviser, Jack Sylvan.



Treasure Island redevelopment

$1.46 billion Expected development costs

$118 million Expected sale price of island from Navy to San Francisco

7,540 Units of housing planned

250 Hotel rooms planned

202,000 square feet Retail space planned

3 Ferries planned between island and San Francisco

650 feet Maximum planned tower height

Source: Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development

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