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New apartment towers could rise from a North Beach parking lot. Not everyone is impressed

A driveway offers entry into a public off-street parking lot with daily, weekly and monthly rates.
A developer's plan for this North Beach parking lot could bring 74 new apartments. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Two new buildings set to replace a North Beach parking garage could bring more than 70 new market-rate apartments to the neighborhood—and no on-site car parking, according to a preliminary proposal filed with San Francisco city planners.

The architects on the project, Ian Birchall + Associates, drew up plans for both buildings at 425 Broadway to be about 65 feet tall, with a six-story building over a basement space facing Broadway paired with an eight-story building facing Montgomery Street. The buildings would be about 20 feet taller than adjoining buildings.

The site, owned by San Jose-based Montgomery Place LLC, is currently occupied by a 144-space, two-level parking garage and Zipcar lot. Its neighbors include the Fondue Chinoise and Paris Pizza & Grill restaurants, the Broadway Studios event venue, the Monroe SF nightclub and a clothing store. Montgomery Place did not respond to The Standard’s request for comment. Birchall declined to comment when reached by The Standard.

Felicity Torrecillas, who owns Felicity's Fetiche lingerie shop just across from the site, said the proposal would create a parking headache for the shops in the area. 

"It's gonna be very difficult for me to park in my parking spot outside my store every day,” Torrecillas told The Standard. “It's just gonna evaporate any kind of parking for my employees."

A woman sits in a large plush red and leopard-print chair and holds a small dog in a wooden-floored store.
Felicity, owner of Felicity's Fetiche lingerie shop, sits with her dog Disco. She shared her concern Wednesday about the possible loss of parking that a preliminary housing proposal across the street from her stores could have. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Torrecillas, who used to park in the garage that currently occupies the site, said she could foresee the dancers at nearby clubs, Vanity and Centerfolds, also running into parking issues.

"I would definitely veto it if I could unless they were to include some sort of parking or an area to pull into for drop-offs and pickups for deliveries," she added, noting that the development would also add to congestion on Montgomery. 

Payam Arvin, a partner at Monroe SF, said he wasn’t worried about the impact on parking, noting that there are two other lots in the block that his employees and some customers use.

"This is a nightlife district,” Arvin said. “Most of our traffic is ride-share passengers or designated drivers.”

Four architectural renderings of a modern multistory building with traditional surrounding structures.
Renderings show what the new apartment buildings could look like if built at 425 Broadway. | Source: Courtesy Ian Birchall + Associates

Though the proposal is still in early stages, San Francisco Planning Department Chief of Staff Dan Sider said the city is generally interested in replacing parking lots with housing as it works toward a goal of approving 82,000 new housing units by 2031.

"We’re eager for the builder to submit the rest of their application package so that we can get to work reviewing the project," Sider said.

But the current proposal, which includes a total of 74 homes—seven studios, 45 one-bedroom, 15 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom units—doesn’t have any affordable housing.

“Developments that are not 100% truly affordable but instead market rate amplify and encourage gentrification and the displacement of vulnerable communities,” said Greg Giachino, a board member of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers.

A sign offers public parking at daily, weekly and monthly rates at an off-street parking lot
A developer's plan for this North Beach parking lot could bring 74 new apartments. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

The neighborhood organization said it has thrown its support behind three different 100% affordable housing developments in the Broadway corridor, including at Broadway and Sansome, Battery and Broadway, and 88 Broadway at Davis Street.

​​Giachino, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, said when he first moved to the area, it was much more diverse and vibrant.

"I had these wonderful experiences with people that you would never meet from all over the world,” he said. “But today, you know, what ends up happening is we get luxury condos, and the interesting people end up moving out."

When asked if he had ever parked at the garage currently at 425 Broadway, Giachino said no.

A bi-level street parking lot sits between two brick-exterior buildings on a cloudy rainy weekday afternoon.
An off-street North Beach parking lot might be turned into 74 apartments if a developer's plan is approved. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

“It's an ugly parking lot,” he said. “I'm happy to see it go, but that's not how it should go because we do have an affordability crisis, and that's what we need to be building."

According to an October 2022 report prepared by the Board of Supervisors Budget & Legislative Analyst’s Office, there are about 61,000 vacancies—about 15% of the city’s 412,000 total units. As of December 2023, only 16,396 of the 73,934 housing units currently in the city’s development pipeline were described as affordable.

Although the proposal lacks any on-site parking, the plans for 425 Broadway include parking and storage for 85 bicycles. Developers have also proposed about 7,915 square feet of ground-floor retail space, a roof terrace, and a courtyard off Verdi Place.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Felicity Torrecillas also owned Foot Worship, which shares a space with her lingerie store. The owner of Foot Worship is in fact, Xochitl Hernandez. This article also stated Ian Birchall was the developer when in fact, his company is the architect.

George Kelly can be reached at