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Development forces win one on the Embarcadero, for now

September 8, 2015

By J.K. Dineen : sfgate – excerpt

The city’s pro-development forces, who have been dealt a series of setbacks in recent months, finally have a reason to smile.

Late Thursday night, after a marathon 11-hour session, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved a 220-foot condo tower to replace a parking garage on Howard Street across the Embarcadero from the waterfront.

The commission unanimously voted to certify the final environmental impact report on 75 Howard St., a proposed 133-unit structure that developer Paramount Group has had in the works since 2011. The vote on other conditional authorizations was 5-1, with Commissioner Cindy Wu voting against and Commissioner Katherine Moore abstaining.

“The Paramount team is proud to have earned the support of the Planning Commission, and we look forward to building this appropriately sized residential building and helping to pay for affordable housing throughout San Francisco,” said project spokesman Alex Clemens. “A parking garage is not the highest and best use of that site in 2015 San Francisco.”

The vote came after an epic four-year battle during which the Paramount Group agreed to reduce the tower’s height drastically — from 348 feet to 220 feet — to win support. While the final version is generally code compliant, the changes were not enough to assuage the concerns of the opposition, which included neighboring residents as well as people involved in the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition that successfully killed a condominium project at 8 Washington St. in 2013.

But the fight, which comes at a time of widespread anti-development backlash, may not be over yet: Opponents have vowed to appeal the project to the Board of Supervisors… (more)

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