Short Cuts

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Corovan Lawsuit

Save The Hill and Grow Potrero Responsibly have filed a lawsuit challenging the environmental review conducted on the development of 395, primarily market rate, residential units on approximately 3.5 acres at 901 16th and 1200 17th streets. According to the community groups, the City improperly relied on an “outdated” 2008 environmental study from the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan that substantially underestimated the residential growth the City has experienced since the recession. “The Plan projected approximately 3,100 new residential units on Potrero Hill and Showplace Square by 2025, yet these areas are already on track to build 4,500 units. Meanwhile, the City has failed in its promise to provide us with community benefits we need to support this kind of growth” said Alison Heath of Grow Potrero Responsibly.  “My clients are not against the development of Potrero Hill, but the community should not have to shoulder the impacts of a for-profit development when there are feasible alternatives that reduce the project’s impacts and satisfy most of the project’s objectives,” attorney Rachel Mansfield-Howlett stated.  The legal action seeks to overturn project approvals and cease reliance on the environmental study.

Power Play

Associate Capital is buying the 21-acre Potrero Power Plant site from Houston-based NRG Energy, which had been working with District Development to craft a proposal for three million square feet of housing, retail, open space and research and development facilities. “Without a doubt this is an unprecedented opportunity for urban infill for a spectacular location on the waterfront in a perennially desirable City,” said P.J. Johnston, Associate Capital spokesperson. NRG decided to put the site on the market because the firm is “an energy company, not a land developer,” said spokesperson David Knox. The company was represented by Colliers International in the deal. The power plant is “one of the last premier large scale development sites in San Francisco,” said Chris Foley, a principal who focuses on development sites with Polaris Pacific, a condominium marketing and research firm. The site is near other mixed-use projects, such as 28-acre Pier 70, 14-acre India Basin, the proposed Warriors arena, the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point.  According to sources familiar with the deal, the power plant attracted interest from large, established developers, such as Shorenstein Properties, Lendlease and Build Inc., which is developing India Basin. The buyers are a partnership led by Enrique Landa and Charles Thornton, with backing from investors that include the Whitman-Harsh Family Office.

Derelict Structure

Laborers recently spotted in the yard of 1515 19th Street weren’t working on the long derelict property but on the adjacent house, 406 Connecticut Street. The vacant house at 1515 19th Street is owned by Pierre Cantou, who inherited it when his father, Jean, passed in 1996. Cantou has lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for the past three decades. Since 1990, there’ve been nine liens on the parcel, although there’s none outstanding. Most were for unpaid taxes; only one was levied since Pierre inherited it, for sidewalk repairs in 2010.  Cantou, who is in his late-70s, worked as a paralegal for the U.S. Department of Interior on Indian Affairs for 32 years.

Restaurant Empire

Cha Cha Cha, in the Mission, has changed hands, though the Caribbean restaurant will remain as-is, with all staff retained, according to its new proprietor.  Irfan Yalcin — the owner of L’Emigrante wine bar, at 2199 Mission Street, Urban Fish, at 2139 Mission Street, and Mediterranean restaurant Pera, in Potrero Hill – took possession of Cha Cha Cha, at 2327 Mission Street, last month. “Keeping it as it is, that was my main goal,” said Yalcin, a Turkish Kurd who immigrated to the United States in 2006, when he was 30 years old. “I can only take the place with the name and menu intact. Nothing is gonna change basically,” though improvements might be made — lighting, a new floor, and new televisions — and the tapas menu could expand. Yalcin may also add brunch to the restaurant, which currently opens after 5 p.m. for dinner and drinks.

Artistic Homes

This month the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) launched its 3rd Street Studios Program, a professional studio residency. In its pilot year, 25 subsidized artist studios have been created in Dogpatch, home to the recently opened Minnesota Street Project and numerous art galleries. The program includes a full-scale woodshop, digital media station and printing laboratory, and black-and-white darkroom.  The individual, semi-private studios are from 150 to 300 square feet, priced below market. “SFAI is thrilled to contribute to addressing the imminent threat to the continued vibrancy of the Bay Area arts scene posed by the lack of affordable studio space,” said SFAI interim president Rachel Schreiber. “The studio residency program aligns with our mission to educate and promote artists, not only in our degree programs but in the entire community. Through offering the crucial resources of space, public exposure, and professional development opportunities, the residency program will provide a platform to sustain the viability of artists living and working in our City.”  The pilot program runs through August 2017.