New 25-story tower planned

The proposed high-rise towers at Pine and Franklin.

By Don Langley

Another new high-rise residential tower — this one almost twice the permitted height — is being proposed in the neighborhood. The tower, part of a project to be built at Pine and Franklin Streets, would be 240 feet, or 25 stories, tall. A second tower on the site would be at the 130-foot height limit. The two towers would be connected by a seven-story, 65-foot high structure.

Even if it is built within the height limit, the taller tower will block some views from the San Francisco Towers, the complex of life care residences for seniors across Pine Street. For that reason, taller, slender towers with some view between them are better than a lower but bulkier building, according to John Robertson, president of AF Evans, the developer.

In the proposed plan, the taller tower would be on the Franklin Street side. It would be set back from Pine Street to make space for a landscaped mini-park and water feature open to the public. Retail outlets would occupy the ground floor of the buildings. The units — 282 in one plan, 265 in another — would likely be condominiums, mostly with one or two bedrooms, some with terraces and balconies to soften the exterior appearance.

A four-member committee of San Francisco Towers residents has been meeting with AF Evans, the project’s developer. Ralph Romberg, a committee member, said the sessions have been “fairly friendly” so far. Residents are happy to be getting rid of the rundown buildings now on the site, Romberg said, but are worried about traffic and the density of the project. Some Towers residents are also concerned that the proposed mini-park will exacerbate the area’s homeless problem.

John Milford, director of the Towers, took an expansive view: “We are not anti-development. In fact, anything new on that space will be an improvement, in my opinion.”

But the Towers residents council has hired attorney Sue Hestor to contest aspects of the project. In a letter to the planning commission, Hestor argued that because of its height and density, the condo project is not compatible with the neighborhood or the residential areas to the west. She also asked for an alternative proposal that “gives something back to the street and to the surrounding residences.”

“Better design would be the first step,” she said. “Greatly reduced heights the second.”