Proxy SF

Key Facts:

Project summary: A temporary project on a two block vacant lot containing a flexible mix of food, art, culture, and retail units.

Location: Octavia St, San Francisco

Programme: Biergarten, ice cream parlour, coffee shop, bike tours, butchers shop and more.

Initiator: San Francisco Mayor’s Office

Project Duration: Approximately 4 years (ongoing)

Lead in Time: 4 months from site acquisition

Site Area: 200m2

Client Team: SF Mayor’s Office, Envelope A+D

Project Team: Envelope A+D,

Funding Sources: Self Funded, Development Partners.

Project Costs: Proxy is broken down by phase which includes building & operation costs:

Phase 1: £125,500 Phase 2, 3, 4: £188,000 each

Profitability/Loss: Unknown – Ongoing

Permissions / Permits: A full plan was submitted as for a permanent building. Because Proxy is continuing to evolve in its design, any change to the site must be reviewed by the City/neighbourhood beforehand.

Proxy as a whole does not currently hold a liquor permit, only biergarten does.

Local Links: Proxy was delivered using local contractors and the initial businesses are locally based, as the project grows it is intended that businesses from a wider area will participate alongside local ones.

Publicity/advertising: Website, local publicity

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
The site is a two block section of vacant land, previously used as a freeway until the structure failed in an earthquake and had to be demolished. The land was owned by CalTrans who subsequently transferred it to the City. The Mayor’s office then issued a call for housing proposals for all the blocks along the highway route. However, the housing market crashed and the Mayor subsequently came to Envelope A+D and asked what they could do if they had the site for just 4 years.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
The project has a lifespan of around 4 years and intends to both engage with the existing communities but also to activate a site that would otherwise be dormant and use this to inform future development.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
The idea of a temporary project that lasts 4 years didn’t fit with the existing definition of temporary from a planning perspective (<90 days) as a result the permissions required were the same as those for a permanent building and not suited to a project like Proxy.

Envelope A+D worked with the Mayor’s office to streamline some of the planning processes etc. and have achieved a result that works.

Feedback from users / staff:
“Everyone has been extremely supportive, and because we’ve had such support from the City it’s helped us navigate uncharted waters.”

“In the neighbourhood people really understand what it’s doing to what used to be a parking lot – how this starts to activate areas that used to be vacant.”

“We get a ton of inquiries. Multiple inquiries a day, people that are interested in being a part of the project. We’re really curating the site and we’re not interested in having redundant program.”

What next?
The project is ongoing with Phases 3 and 4 currently under construction, it is anticipated that after the scheduled end date the economic conditions will favour the original programme of housing better.

Complementary Programmes:
There are a number of programmes within the Proxy development, these programmes are designed to work together but be ever changing, potentially any public programme could be a part of the proposal.

Project Website / Further Info:

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