PROWLER NEWS — Winter 2018
For almost 20 years, Prowler, Inc has been helping developers, landowners, non-profits, and public agencies address project management, development, and planning challenges.
On behalf of the property owner, Keller Grover Properties, David Prowler led the effort to design and win approval of a 96-home mixed-use project at the corner of Market Street and Duboce Avenue – a site the local area plan calls the Gateway to Upper Market. It’s an important and tricky site, with new construction above and alongside a historic 1926 former funeral home. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project on January 18.
It’s a great project, featuring adaptive re-use of a historic building, affordable housing, and a sensitive design. The existing building will be preserved and the additions were designed to respect and complement the historic features. Of the 96 new condo units, 14 will be permanently affordable. On the team besides Prowler: David Baker Architects, Steve Vettel of Farella Braun + Martel, and Charles Chase of Architectural Resources Group.
Says client Eric Grover: “We were so fortunate to be introduced to David Prowler who then put together this terrific team of architects and lawyers.”
The project earned widespread support, with endorsements from the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, the Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association, Castro Merchants, the Castro Community Benefits District Board, and the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition.
“David employed his impressive management skills, political contacts and community outreach experience to gain entitlements for a unique project on a challenging site, garnering near unanimous support for the project from community and government stakeholders”
—Steve Vettel, land use lawyer, Farella Braun + Martel
For more information, visit SocketSite.com.
Aging is a big challenge. Doing so in a real community can be helpful and soon there will be a senior community, up in Healdsburg, where the spiritual tools of Zen Buddhism will be available for a broader population. For the past five years David Prowler managed the San Francisco Zen Center’s participation in pre-development activities. The Zen Center has now entered into a partnership with the Quaker-based Kendal Corporation, another non-profit, to co-sponsor, operate, finance and build the community.
The project will be the first of its kind, offering a meditation hall and classes, with food inspired by Zen Center’s Greens Restaurant. 20 retired Zen teachers will be in residence, among 220 independent living units, 30 assisted living units, and memory care for 24. The site is about a mile and a half north of Healdsburg Town Square. The design, by Mithun and HKIT Architects, will meet the highest standards for sustainability.
“David has been instrumental in working with the Zen Center and Kendal in the early stages of the project in Healdsburg. His development experience, instincts and communications skills have helped to bring this community vision to life.”
—Steve Bailey, SVP The Kendal Corporation
For more information, please go here.
David Prowler has for some years been guest lecturer in the Urban Studies Program at Stanford University, most recently in a course called From Gold Rush to Google Bus. Prowler’s lectures cover the time from the ‘70s to this morning’s headlines. Michael Kahan, Co-Director of the Urban Studies Program says, “My Urban Studies students at Stanford always learn a great deal from David’s guest lectures. He had a front-row seat to so many of the city’s historic events over the last 40 years, and he’s great at depicting the personalities and conflicts that he witnessed firsthand. But more than just “war stories,” he brings a well informed historical perspective that enriches their understanding of San Francisco’s recent past, as well as its present.”
David Prowler puts his thoughts on urbanism and design on his blog, at www.davidprowler.wordpress.com. The latest post is called The Persistence of the Past, and it’s about how today’s planning gridlock is explained by events of 30 years ago. John King of the SF Chronicle called the post “terrific” and J.K. Dineen, also of the Chronicle, deemed it “wonderful”.
Previous posts concerned Japan, surrealist architecture, what street grids tell us about cities, and hostile modern design. Also: the latest on mastodons South of Market, memories of Harvey Milk, Zen billboards, and lucky addresses.
Behold current and past members of the San Francisco Planning Commission, gathered for a reception at City Hall to celebrate the Department’s 100th birthday. David Prowler (top row, right) served on the Commission in the early 1990s.
As part of the celebration, Planning staff produced a history of city planning in San Francisco, a handsome paperback with some interesting insights. You can download a copy here.
According to the recent Bay Guardian Readers Poll, that’s Creativity Explored, where art changes lives. It is an art workshop and gallery for artists with developmental disabilities. David is President of the Board.
PROWLER NEWS — Fall 2013 — For just about 15 years, Prowler Inc. has been helping developers, landowners, and public agencies in San Francisco with development and planning challenges. These clients have included SFMOMA, Emerald Fund, 888 Brannan, One Rincon Hill, Glen Park Marketplace, SF State, and the City of San Francisco. To learn more, please check out Prowler Inc.’s redesigned website at www.prowler.org.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the nation’s densest neighborhood outside of New York. The residents, mostly elderly and families, are crammed into residential hotels and small apartments. Even the neighborhood park, Portsmouth Square is jammed. On Stockton Street, the community’s Main Street, the sidewalks are virtually impassable most of the day. But Chinatown is slated to get a new plaza, right at the heart of the neighborhood at Stockton and Washington, atop the new Chinatown subway station.
The City hired a team directed by David Prowler and including Gensler and Keyser Marston Associates to work with the SFMTA, the Mayor’s Office, other City agencies and the Chinatown Community Development Center to plan the site. The task: to produce not just a design but also a plan for funding, development and maintenance of the space.
There are a lot of possibilities: a second story park overlooking the bustle of the street, film projections and performances, public art, food kiosks, historical displays, maybe even “an open air cultural center”.
The team’s recommendations result from a series of interviews, a focus group, and three workshops in Chinatown. The form and use of the space came last, only after a thorough airing of how people would use the space.
“David’s experience, judgment, and focus led to a plan that responds to community values, meets the needs of City Hall, and can be effectively built and maintained. The Plaza will be a great place for Chinatown residents and visitors alike.”
Cindy Wu, Community Planning Manager at Chinatown Community Development Center
This has got to be one of the most complex projects per square foot ever:
– At least three integrated uses on site: subway entrance, retail or cultural use, and park. It’s got to be a good place to pass through and to hang out, for locals and tourists.
– A small site (just over 10,000 square feet) with the access, exiting, ventilation and security challenges of a subway station.
– A raft of agencies involved: not just SFMTA but also the Mayor’s Office, Planning Department, Arts Commission, Recreation and Parks Department, and the School District. Even the Department of Homeland Security has a say.
The Study will be presented to the Planning Commission, Arts Commission, Recreation and Parks Commission, and SFMTA Board. Construction of the plaza should begin in 2017.
Sometimes it’s hard to say what a piece of property is worth – and when the City needs a parcel for a public use and the seller is unwilling, that tricky question can wind up before a jury. That’s what happened in the case City and County of San Francisco vs. PCF Acquisitions LLC.
At the heart of the dispute, this question: how hard would it be to change the zoning of a gas station to allow a high rise – and would anyone pay a price based on that possibility? The City turned to David Prowler as an expert witness to outline for the jury just how difficult, risky, expensive, and lengthy that process is.
The testimony worked.
According to Deputy City Attorney Jim Emery:
“It was an absolute pleasure to work with David on this trial, and his presentation to the jury was both engaging and persuasive. Based on David’s testimony, the jury rejected the property owner’s argument that a possible zoning change enhanced the value of the property.”
D- The Century
E- The Allen Arms
A- San Francisco
D- San Mateo
Well underway, construction of the SFMOMA Expansion. Click here to see a time-lapse stream of the construction cam.
David Prowler spoke along with Kelley Kahn from the City of Oakland on a panel sponsored by the Great Communities Collaborative. The topic: lining up all the players for transit-oriented development. Here’s the description of the session:
Building complex, mixed-use development projects around transit requires effective coordination across multiple parties – not just across private (developer) and public sectors, but also within the public sector. The development of just one particular site could include multiple departments within one city such as: Economic Development, Planning, Housing, Public Works, Transportation, Utilities and Building Inspection. In addition, the developer and the city agencies must partner with the transit agencies that serve the property. We will hear from leading Bay officials about their experience aligning multiple agencies to produce the best TOD results.
There to learn: Transform, Low Income Investment Fund, Greenbelt Alliance, and others.
Here’s a link to an article David wrote on this subject published by the United Nations.
To keep up, blogs are indispensible. Check out:
http://www.theatlanticcities.com — An urban wonk’s dream site.
www.socketsite.com/ — Essential.
sf.curbed.com/ — Essential, too – plus snarky.
urbdezine.com — Also kind of wonky.
www.spur.org/blog — What they’re thinking about at SPUR
www.sfusualsuspects.com/ — So trees don’t have to die to bring you political news
www.davidprowler.wordpress.com — For the latest on mastodons, memories of Harvey Milk, Zen billboards, lucky addresses, etc.
1- B. “FBI agents arrested the 29-year-old San Francisco resident — allegedly known online as Dread Pirate Roberts — on Tuesday in the science fiction section of a small branch of the San Francisco public library, where he was chatting online.” Associated Press
2- B. Norma.
3- C. 3,401 According to the City’s June 2013 Homeless Count. That’s way too many. To be part of the solution, consider a donation to HPP, the Homeless Prenatal Program.
4- A. San Francisco. See San Francisco Chronicle article.
5- D. A whopping $20.00.
Prowler Inc. is celebrating 14 years of service to public agencies, landowners, developers and institutions.
Please take a look at this review of recent accomplishments, take the quiz, and visit the blog.
On behalf of SFMOMA, Webcor is completing the construction of the firehouse on Folsom Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
The new facility, designed and built to the City’s specifications, will replace Firehouse 1 on the site of the future SFMOMA Expansion.
The land swap between SFMOMA and the City went into effect in mid-February. Construction of the new museum will begin this summer.
Prowler assisted SFMOMA by providing community and government relations services.
Here’s what Greg Johnson, Director of the SFMOMA Expansion Project said about David’s role:
“David is among the handful of team members whose work led to the approvals of our expansion and the firehouse. We really relied on his judgment, relationships, and experience every step of the way.”
Mayor Ed Lee and UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann joined a handful of invited guests at a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of Genentech Hall, the first building built in Mission Bay. The new 43-acre biomedical research campus and the Benioff Childrens Hospital (under construction) will ensure that UCSF remains one of the top spots in the world for medical advances and their applications. David Prowler was the Mayor’s Project Manager for the creation of Mission Bay.
This historic battery factory is coming back to life as the new home of Airbnb. Prowler advised the owner, SKS, on Planning approvals for the conversion.
— A close up look at how Chinatown came to be, from the birth of the City at Portsmouth Square to the “veritable fairy palaces filled with the choicest treasures of the Orient” that saved the community from relocation to Hunters Point in 1906, to the International Hotel and beyond.
Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, SF Municipal Transportation Agency
A team of consultants directed by David Prowler recently completed a report called SFMTA’s Real Estate Vision for the 21st Century.
It’s a blueprint for addressing the real estate challenges confronting our transportation system:
- To meet growing demand, the passenger fleet will grow about 20% by 2030, with some vehicle types doubling;
- Some facilities are obsolete and seismically vulnerable. For example, the base for repairing overhead lines is in an 1893- era unreinforced masonry building;
- The entire system of maintaining and parking vehicles could be more efficient, enabling operating savings, better working conditions, and better service.
In addition, SFMTA has the chance to offer selected sites for development, providing revenue to address facilities needs and to help meet City smart growth goals.
The SFMTA Board accepted the report at its meeting of January 29. No decisions have been made regarding report implemetation.
The report results from collaboration between the consultants, including Prowler Inc., Parsons Brinckerhoff, Gensler, Keyser Marston Associates, and Vital Environments and the staff of SFMTA. We held 8 workshops, toured SFMTA facilities and interviewed line staff, and conducted a survey of sister agencies to learn how they do things. We held briefings with members of the Board of Supervisors and their staffs, the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Committee, and SPUR.
Here is the link that leads to the Vision Report. Some of the key recommendations:
- Increasing flexibility by accommodating longer buses everywhere and adding electric lines capacity to the Flynn Yard;
- Consolidating storage, paint and body repair, and the historic fleet;
- Increasing energy and water sustainability;
- Addressing obsolescence and vulnerability of Presidio and Potrero facilities in partnership with private developers;
- Offering the Upper Yard at Balboa Station to the Mayor’s Office of Housing;
The report recommends implementation measures including financing sources.
RECENT POSTS AT PROWLER BLOG
You ought to check out the blog, www.davidprowler.wordpress.com.
JK Dineen of the San Francisco Business Times posted on Facebook, “ I love David Prowler’s blog”. Posts concern urbanism and design and have recently touched on the past lives of Rockefeller Center, the surrealist architecture of Frederick J. Keisler, broken clocks, and mastodons.
See Answers Below
A- Jerry Garcia, 1974
B- Gavin Elster, 1958
C- Dan White, 1977
D- Emperor Josiah Norton, 1859
A- All Shook Up, Elvis Presley (1957)
B- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Roberta Flack (1972)
C- To Sir With Love, Lulu (1967)
D- Riders in the Sky, Vaughn Monroe (1949)
A- San Francisco
D- San Mateo
A- Moscone Center
B- Embarcadero Center
C- San Francisco Honda
D- Kabuki Hot Springs
A- Families served.
B- Babie born (of which 98% were born drug-free and over 90% normal birth weight).
C- Families placed in permanent housing.
D- Clients receiving help with domestic violence.
1- D. 60,000 conventioneers can yak on their cell phones at the same time.
2- B. Gavin Elster, a character in the film Vertigo, in the scene where he hires an unsuspecting Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) to follow his wife, Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak).
3-A. All Shook Up, 1957.
4- A. San Francisco is the lowest cost of all the counties, at 39.5%. Households pay the highest percentage in Marin (56.3%).
5- C. San Francisco Honda, at Market and South Van Ness.
6- A-4; B-3; C-2; D-1. In addition, HPP even helped clients with 1,337 tax filings, recouping for these families, who have average monthly incomes of $930, tax returns totaling $1,872,707. David Prowler serves on the Board. To learn more or to donate, visit www.homelessprenatal.org.