CH Planning kills controversial 50-story condo project in SF’s Outer Sunset

Developer sells site to Pacific Housing West for affordable housing, ending two lawsuits

CH Planning Kills “Nonsense” 50-Story Condo Tower in SF
2700 Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco (Getty, Solomon Cordwell Buenz; Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

CH Planning has killed a controversial plan to build a 50-story condominium tower in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset and has sold the site for affordable housing.

After years of lawsuits and failing to get its project approved, the Reno-based developer led by Raelynn Hickey has withdrawn its plan to construct the 589-foot highrise at 2700 Sloat Boulevard, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

CH Planning sold the 1-acre Sloat Garden Center site to a nonprofit unit of locally based Pacific Housing West for an undisclosed price.

Pacific Housing plans to build an eight-story, 100-percent affordable condominium building, with units sold to moderate-income households. Plans for the project were not disclosed.

“I gave (Pacific Housing West) authorization to proceed with their development plans with the city,” Hickey, CEO of CH Planning, stated in her withdrawal application. “It’s certainly smaller than anything we had proposed, and we hope it goes well.”

The CH project, proposed as a 646-unit tower in March last year across from the San Francisco Zoo, drew national headlines — its spire soaring over the low-lying neighborhood along Ocean Beach. 

Earlier plans called for 213-unit or 400-unit complexes, before it was upped to 680 condominiums in July.

It also became symbolic of the ongoing battles over the state’s push to force cities to rezone to allow taller, denser residential buildings, according to the Chronicle.

The project drew fierce opposition from neighbors, while local housing boosters pooh-poohed the tower as an outlandish fantasy barred by the city’s zoning code that wouldn’t pencil out.

The project’s legality boiled down to an interpretation of a zoning rule around “bulk code,” or how many square feet of building can be squeezed onto its footprint, according to the Chronicle.

The developer argued that the project would actually be four thin towers sitting on a single podium. Together, CH argued they would violate bulk and code requirements — but individually they would comply. The city Planning Department disagreed.

CH Planning filed two lawsuits against San Francisco, adding a state law to fast-track affordable homes, in an attempt to overturn the project’s rejection.

Hickey also said CH Planning would be withdrawing the two lawsuits disputing the city’s ruling on the zoning of the property. The developer also asked the city to refund the fees paid for the now-canceled development.

“We don’t want to interfere with the buyer’s efforts and the generation of positive feelings about their project,” Hickey said. “We fully support their housing goals for the area.”

Planning Director Rich Hillis said the department welcomed the new affordable housing proposal. He said it’s not clear how many units the project would include.

“We believe the site can accommodate hundreds of units of new housing in an area of the city that hasn’t seen much development,” Hillis told the newspaper.

Supervisor Joel Engardio, who represents the Sunset, said the new proposal “puts to rest the nonsense about a 50-story tower that has been a boogeyman and headache for neighbors over the past year.”

San Francisco, whose state-mandated housing element requires the city plan for 82,000 homes by 2031, is now upzoning commercial corridors on the city’s westside for 34,000 new housing units.

— Dana Bartholomew

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