July 2014

650 Indiana Street Demonstrates the Benefits of Good Development Practices

Dwane Kennedy

The west side of 650 Indiana Street, between 18th and 19th streets, is home to an unimpressive collection of warehouses, storage facilities, and Café Cocomo. Under a plan created by Build, Inc.—and unanimously approved last May by the San Francisco Planning Commission —110 housing units, 1,900 square feet of ground floor retail, public open space, and underground parking will be developed. 

The architectural mass will be divided into two separate structures, designed by different architects, each five stories tall, serving as a buffer to the rest of the neighborhood from the sights and sounds of Interstate 280 automobile traffic. The project’s southern end will be punctuated by an outdoor public plaza that will likely become a sunny gathering spot for local residents. 

The development’s crown jewel is the 51-unit structure designed by Pfau-Long Architects, referred to as “Building O.” The edifice is big, boxy, and attractive, with extruded windows, operable retail glass panels, and an exterior composed of modern materials. 

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the 650 Indiana project is the absence of opposition and controversy. At the May Planning Commission hearing at which the proposed plans were considered, the developer, community members, and Planning Commission all sang from the same song sheet. No one spoke against the project. Even Planning Department staff found little to criticize. 

The positive process was likely the result of Build, Inc.’s work with the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, and the close attention the company paid to the community’s concerns and recommendations, including such details as bicycle parking and accessory lockers for residents. Courtyards and open spaces are tied together and form a natural relationship to the City-owned Espirit Park, which is adjacent to the project site. By building on the existing neighborhood’s fabric, and respecting the character of the community’s people, places and values, the 650 Indiana Street project will likely provide an important contribution to Dogpatch.



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