Prior to 1998, there was no residential neighborhood in Mission Bay; no Victorian farmhouses, no worker cottages ordered out of a Sears catalog in 1910, no ticky-tacky little boxes constructed en masse by Henry Doelger before World War II, no apartments, no condominiums, no townhouses. There were rail yards, warehouses and parking lots. The Mission Bay we see now was invented by Board of Supervisors decree in 1998.
It is unlike any other neighborhood in San Francisco, a fully-planned, 21st-century district featuring the latest in residential design and a growing population cutting edge commercial interests. In one important way, though, Mission Bay is the embodiment of a classic urban neighborhood: its residential makeup. Like Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Mission Bay has condos, townhouses and apartments and zero single-family homes.
Way back in 1998 Mission Bay was divided into two Redevelopment areas: “Mission Bay North” and “Mission Bay South.” The project’s ultimate goal was to build 6,000 residential units in the new neighborhood. Half of those were completed between 1998 and 2010. The rest, as anyone who’s recently strolled down Fourth Street knows, are either under construction, just finished or waiting to break ground.
Early building focused on Mission Bay North and consisted of several mid-rise condominium buildings, communities like Arterra, Park Terrace and The Edgewater on Berry Street and The Beacon and Signature on King Street, along with a few large apartment complexes (notably Avalon I and II and 355 Berry). It wasn’t until 2006 that 417-unit Radiance became the first Mission Bay residential complex built south of Mission Creek.
In August, 2012, Madrone, located adjacent to Pier 52 on Terry Francois Boulevard, kicked off the second phase of building in Mission Bay. Madrone debuted to great fanfare, preselling 200 of its 329 units then selling 97 more during its first month of “official” sales. From Madrone development moved to a few blocks inland, to Fourth Street. Long-range plans here are to create a mixed-use urban core for Mission Bay, with retail, restaurants, commercial space and hundreds of apartment and condominium homes.
On and around Fourth Street today you’ll find new or almost-complete buildings at 1155 Fourth (Venue), 1180 Fourth (Mercy Housing, with 175 Below Market Rate units), 1201 Fourth (Strata) and 185 Channel Street (Channel Mission Bay). When complete these five complexes will add approximately 1,200 residential units, the majority of them for lease, to the neighborhood. Channel Mission Bay, which opened for business in February, has already leased 35 percent of its 315 apartments.
Mission Bay’s new residential communities are luxurious, with generous living spaces, of-the-moment style and amenities like on-site fitness and business centers, barbecue areas, movie theaters and concierge service. Venue, at 1155 Fourth, adds some additional, somewhat quirky perks like a waterfall, an on-site car wash and an on-site dog wash.
The present phase of construction is hardly Mission Bay’s last gasp. With the 2008-2010 market downturn firmly in the rearview, ambitious development has roared back to life. Under construction at Fourth and Channel is Sol, a 21-story, 273-unit condominium building due for completion in early 2015. One block away at Third and Channel a proposal featuring a 250-room luxury hotel and 350 residential units is moving forward, and the impressively-named “Mission Rock Megaproject,” currently in its planning stages, aims to create a mini-neighborhood, with commercial and retail spaces, restaurants, hotels and residential buildings out of a series of parking lots located across McCovey Cove from AT & T Park. The project has already inked its first tenant, iconic San Francisco business Anchor Brewing.
Other Mission Bay projects underway include a new Public Safety Building, a children’s park and a massive park at Mission Bay Boulevard South and San Francisco Bicycle Route 5. Though it may seem that an entire neighborhood has appeared and matured in only 15 years, Mission Bay’s future plans suggest that we haven’t seen anything yet.