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San Francisco Municipal Railway

Site History & Facts

The Kirkland Yard site was originally part of the Bay and was filled in 1886. The 2.6-acre site was in private hands until 1942 when it was acquired by the Department of War. San Francisco obtained the property from the Department of War in 1947 and in 1950 it began its service as a bus storage yard. The site is 412.5 feet by 275 feet, encompassing 113,437 square feet. It is currently zoned "P" or "Public", which is due to its ownership and use by a public agency. The property is within a 40-foot height district and is subject to the Northeastern Waterfront Area Plan of the City's General Plan.

The Municipal Railway's diesel bus operation at the Kirkland Yard is to be relocated to a new, larger facility at Cesar Chavez Street and I-280, currently scheduled for completion in 2008. That relocation will allow the Kirkland site to be redeveloped to a new land use that is more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. The Kirkland Yard property is a valuable real estate asset and it is the intention of the Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board, which oversees Muni, to obtain value from the site so that other transit capital financing needs can be met, including the estimated $73 million price tag for Kirkland's replacement bus facility for low emission vehicles.

In seeking to realize the value of the Kirkland property through its redevelopment, Muni believes that it has a responsibility to assure that a new land use on the site is compatible with the neighborhood and the City's General Plan, zoning requirements, and development procedures. Consequently, Muni has initiated a careful process, which first evaluated the economic and planning context for the redevelopment of the Kirkland site. This report was completed in 2003 and has led to the decision to move forward with the redevelopment of the site as a "joint development" project.

Project Study Conclusions

The study of the Kirkland Yard site undertaken by Muni examined a number of possible new land uses on the property, including hotel, office, tourist-related commercial, and housing. The market analysis and associated economic evaluation of the site led to a firm conclusion that the strongest economic value of the site would be, for the foreseeable future, its development as "for sale" or condominium housing. This conclusion was measured against the City's General Plan guidelines for the area, and it was found that housing on the site also met those guidelines very well.

These conclusions led to the decision to move forward with the "joint development" of the Kirkland Yard site. "Joint development" defines a process in which a private developer is asked to accomplish a defined development on a publicly owned property, after which time the public owner of the property receives a continuous revenue stream from the lease of the property or a lump sum payment through the disposition of the property. In the case of the Kirkland property, the near-term financial needs of the Muni have dictated an interest in disposing of the property once the proposed housing development is approved.

The Joint Development Process

It is proposed that the Kirkland development be accomplished through an RFQ-RFP process, the goal of which is to select a team consisting of an experienced housing developer and partnering architect to undertake a condominium housing project on the site. The Request For Qualifications (RFQ) will be a document that describes the proposed Kirkland project and defines information about the developer and architect which will be submitted to the Muni and then carefully reviewed. Several development teams that are determined to be qualified will then be provided with the opportunity to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP).

The RFP will ask the development teams to prepare and submit information about their ideas for a housing project on the Kirkland property. This will likely include preliminary project ideas, such as number and type of units, financial information about the resulting value of the project, and initial design thoughts and concepts. These responses will be evaluated carefully and a development team will then be selected.

Selection of a developer will allow an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement to be signed between the developer and the City. This interim contract will remain in place while the developer refines the proposed project and then steps through the necessary entitlement process of the City, including preparation of necessary environmental documentation (an EIR), approvals of the necessary re-zoning, and all other public approvals that might be required. When approval of the project is completed, a disposition contract will be prepared, and following approval of the project and this contract by the Board of Supervisors, the property will be conveyed from the City to the developer.

Project Notes

The RFP will define condominium housing as the new use on the Kirkland site, but the design and many details of the proposed project will the responsibility of the developer/architect selected to accomplish the project. The RFP will state as "givens" the current height and setback limitations on the property, along with the City's Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program goals. In addition, working with the Planning Department, the RFP will seek to provide guidance to the developer and to emphasize certain elements considered to be important to a successful project.

The RFP will also set forth certain project priorities, including attention to a pedestrian-friendly design, possible inclusion of neighborhood-serving ground-floor commercial uses, and special attention to other elements which reflect the unique location of the site. The Kirkland property enjoys a high level of transit access with direct service to downtown, so elements such as the off-street parking requirements, integration of the F-Line streetcar passenger stop, and encouragement of bicycle accommodations, will be highlighted in the RFP.

Throughout the RFQ, RFP, and design and permitting processes, Muni will be seeking input from a Citizens Advisory Committee, made up of members of the surrounding community, the district Supervisor, and City staff from other departments.

Project Schedule

Although preliminary, the schedule set forth below attempts to identify the major project milestones for the Kirkland Yard project. This schedule is not binding and is subject to actions by the Municipal Transportation Agency Board and other City policy-making boards and commissions.

  • RFQ Solicitation and Receipt of Responses
    Sep-Nov 2004
  • Completion of Screening of RFQ Responses
    Dec 2004
  • RFP Provided to Selected Teams
    Jan-Mar 2005
  • Selection of Prospective Developer Team
    May 2005
  • Exclusive Negotiating Agreement Signed
    July 2005
  • Completion of EIR & Project Approval Steps
    Nov 2006
  • Final Contract Approval
    April 2007
  • Project Design / Engineering / Permits
    May 2007 - Nov 2008
  • Construction Begins
    Jan 2009
  • Construction Completed
    July 2010

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