Public comments on a draft environmental impact report for the University of California San Francisco’s proposed Child, Teen and Family Center, at 2130 Third Street, have included strong opposition to the facility’s design and location. The project, currently in the design phase, is slated to go before the University of California Regents this May for a go/no-go decision. If approved, construction is anticipated to start by early 2018, with a targeted completion the first quarter of 2020.
The property is owned by the Lisa & John Pritzker Family Fund; the Center would be operated by the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. The development team consists of SKS Partners, LLC and Prado Group, working alongside Pfau Long Architecture and ZGF Architects. Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company is the general contractor.
“The Child, Teen and Family Center is designed to address the three unique street environments adjacent to the building: the larger transit-oriented nature of Third Street, the transition of 18th Street, and the more residential nature of Tennessee Street,” said Lee Ishida, construction manager, SKS Partners.
The project site is one block from the UCSF-Mission Bay campus. An existing office building and surface parking lot would be demolished to make way for the new development. The Center would be three to five stories, with 150,000 gross square feet consisting of outpatient clinics, research areas, educational spaces, offices and retail. The structure would have a varied height of 45 to 68 feet, with a subterranean parking garage.
The building’s layout features a central atrium with natural light that’ll function as the heart of the Center, connecting the 18th and Tennessee streets building entrances. Floor plans are designed for easy circulation and fostering human interaction, gatherings and collaboration. The designers have chosen materials which aim to match Dogpatch’s scale, textures, colors and distinctive character. The developer will be seeking Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Gold certification, with a green roof to collect storm water runoff, energy efficient lighting fixtures, water efficient plumbing and shower facilities to support bike commuters.
Last year, UCSF created the Dogpatch Community Task Force to address community concerns and potential impacts of university satellite projects in Dogpatch, specifically the Child, Teen and Family Center and proposed graduate student housing for three properties at 560, 590 and 600 Minnesota Street. The Task Force consists of representatives from the Dogpatch Neighborhood, Dogpatch Business, Potrero Boosters Neighborhood, and Potrero Dogpatch Merchants associations, as well as the Dogpatch Northwest Potrero Green Benefit District. Several meetings have been held to allow community stakeholders an opportunity to voice their opinions about the projects. UC has a policy requiring its campuses to cushion development impacts by being responsive to community concerns.
Neighborhood issues raised at Task Force meetings have been largely related to the building’s design and location. “I question the impact of a psychiatric facility standing alone away from the professional community it is professed to be serving,” stated one EIR commenter. “…since both professionals and patients will be located away from the building, they will all have to travel further distances…You are not integrating into the neighborhood; you are taking it over!”
According to John Loomis, Dogpatch resident and professor of architecture and design at San Jose State University, community members view the Center as UCSF’s “trojan horse” for further development in the neighborhood. Dogpatch’s northern section, including the vicinity of 2130 Third Street, was designated a Life Sciences and Medical Special Use District by the City in 2008, facilitating UCSF uses pertaining to healthcare, research and biotechnology. The District defines medical and life science laboratory activities as a “principally permitted use,” which are exempted from certain zoning requirements.
“Given the corrosive effect UCSF has had in the Mt. Parnassus, Laurel Heights and Mt. Zion neighborhoods, the fear is that the Life Science and Medical Special Use District extends the UCSF prerogative to do whatever they want and turn Dogpatch into Medpatch,” stated Loomis.
According to Loomis, the Center’s original vision consisted of a friendly, approachable, low-scaled building, instead of one with an institutional feel. The current project design is massive, he said, and doesn’t achieve the intended neighborhood feel. Last year, representatives of UCSF and the developer presented an updated design to the community, which Loomis felt didn’t adequately address the issues.
“The overall configuration and massing remained unchanged,” he said. “The Tennessee Street elevation continued to loom high over the Dogpatch Historic District Victorian houses across the street. There were unconvincing gestures as to surface and ground level treatment. And there was a flying exterior terrace soffit that seemed to have been cut and pasted from Benioff Children’s Hospital.”