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Is Lombard Ready For The Big Time?

San Francisco could be adding a toll system to drivers on Lombard’s famous crooked street. photo: Nicolas Vigier

Developing housing in San Francisco isn’t easy — for the developer or the neighbors. Case in point: Neighbors around a new Russian Hill development have met with the project’s developer in the hope of learning more about its progress, hoping to reduce disruption, and ensure that their own properties don’t suffer in the process. What started out as a potential legal mess looks like it could end in relative peace — if the communication is ongoing.

The project at the through-lot of 841 Chestnut Street to 950 Lombard Street includes extensive remodeling, additions, and shoring up of the hillside. Neighbor worries include possible damage to down-hill properties from disturbing the hillside to the large number of trucks parked near the property, causing noise pollution and creating street congestion.

Neighbor Christina Noren became concerned by the project, which involves the remodeling of two houses on the property with what she says is a total potential sale price of up to $35 million. “I don’t know that there’s a villain here, but this is an example that this is a very out-of-scale project for our neighborhood,” she said.

“The project has been enormously disruptive to the neighborhood,” Noren told the Marina Times. “It’s been going on for three years and counting.” She said there are days when a dozen trucks are parked in the street making deliveries from 7 a.m. on. Another major concern was the stability of the hillside; with the developer planning to reinforce it with concrete and add a three-car underground garage, tennis court, and a cantilevered swimming pool, neighbors were worried about the potential damage to their homes if the hillside collapsed.

After a meeting of neighborhood residents and developer representatives in February, Noren sounded a bit optimistic. “I feel like they are taking us seriously and dealing with us,” Noren said.

The developer, Troon Pacific, Inc., said it is “bringing a new life to the Willis Polk historic home, cottage and gardens at 950 Lombard — we are reconstructing a property that has been abandoned and unmaintained for approximately 20 years,” the company said in a statement to the Marina Times. “We strive to achieve the highest degree of sustainability in our construction methods and, with respectful care, honor both the architectural history and the beautiful gardens and open space at the site. The project is pre-certified LEED Platinum and registered with the Living Building Challenge.” Troon expects to complete the project by the end of this summer and are “confident that the finished product will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood”.

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