Proposal to Redevelop Kansas Street PDR Building

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A showroom and retail building located at 300 Kansas Street, on Potrero Hill’s northern end, may be transformed into a modern structure, if a preliminary proposal moves forward. Developer Group i recently submitted an application to the Planning Department that proposes to demolish the existing production, design, and repair building and construct a new six-story PDR building on the 27,500 square foot PDR-zoned lot. The parcel is bounded by Kansas, Vermont and 16th streets. According to Planning staff, the application won’t likely be reviewed for several months.

“We just submitted, so the process is still in the very early stages,” said Leigh Chang, director of acquisitions, Group i. “There are a lot of small industrial PDR buildings in the area, and we want to come up with something that’s more modern PDR, not something old or antiquated. We’re hoping to create a more 21st century PDR building, but still keep with the character of the neighborhood; something innovative that serves the community.”

Group i purchased the property in 2016 for $14.2 million from a private investor. The company is working with architect El Dorado Inc., which produced a conceptual plan for a 68 feet tall building that provides 137,500 square feet of space, of which 112,192 square feet would be rentable, with the remaining used for common spaces and exterior open areas. A basement garage accommodating 61 vehicles would be below six above-grade levels and a roof deck.

According to Josh Shelton, El Dorado Inc. principal, his firm strongly believes that there’s a place for PDR uses in the urban core. He said his firm has extensive experience in planning light industrial facilities, and has been working on the design for 300 Kansas Street for more than five months.

One project goal is to allow for high quality interior lighting, which would be achieved by utilizing transparent and translucent polycarbonate materials that reduce glare and diffuse light. Shelton described the design of the building’s facade along 16th Street as having a quality akin to a glowing lantern, making it appear as a beacon, bringing a feeling of warmth to the neighborhood, in contrast to the common coldness of older industrial structures. He expressed a desire for the structure to have a positive and optimistic presence on the site, imbuing a welcoming feel against the backdrop of Highway 101 just to the west.

The developer has met with the Potrero Boosters development committee, and plans to hold meetings with other groups to garner their feedback. Frank Gilson, Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association president, hopes to meet with Group I representatives, and expressed a desire that opportunities for small businesses be created in the new space.

Chang emphasized that the development team has just begun the conceptual planning process, and that it could be up to two years before entitlements are gained. “We met with the Boosters and gave a presentation back in December,” said Chang. “It went very well, and people gave some very thoughtful comments about the conceptual plan. We definitely want to hear from more folks in the neighborhood.”

J.R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president, and a candidate for District 10 Supervisor, anticipates that a followup meeting with the project team will be scheduled once changes have been made to the preliminary design. Development committee members praised the concrete podium, transparent mezzanine and use of translucent material on the building’s north and south facades. However, given the height and associated visibility from much of Potrero Hill, some want more attention paid to the roof treatment. Overall, the committee found the east and west facades to be quite dark, and communicated that they were hoping for a brighter appearance. The Boosters requested that the amount of vehicle parking provided in the garage drop from 100 spots to 61, given the project’s proximity to public transit.

“We’ll continue to work with them on the design,” said Eppler. “I’m optimistic that the committee can work out the details. Another committee meeting will be held in March and then there’ll be a presentation to the general membership in April.”

Eppler said that he and other Boosters members are appreciative of the 100 percent PDR use for the building, and surmised that the main tenant could possibly be a medical testing and device company. A request was made during the Boosters meeting that a street-level, smaller, maker space, as well as room for the arts, be provided along Kansas and 16th streets. According to Eppler, it’s important to incorporate a passenger loading/unloading zone on Kansas Street in addition to the loading/unloading zone for building operations that’s etched into the plans for Vermont Street. He said that increased street-level activity will help make the area feel safer.