The Planning Commission has approved plans for a new medical development adjacent to Tartine bakery on 20th Street.

The new project would be a Tier 1 three-story (45 feet) research/development and medical clinic facility consisting of approximately 76,167 square-feet and a five-level subterranean parking garage with 275 spaces. The property includes three parcels at 1925 Arizona Ave, 1234 20th St and 1242 20th St.

Gates, Kingsley, and Gates Mortuary (GKGM) funeral home used to occupy a Tudor Revival-style building on the property but the chapel portion was recently rehabilitated and converted into the Tartine bakery and full-service restaurant. Built in 1933, the existing two-story Tudor Revival-style building (GKGM) located at the street corner will remain in its current site configuration with its open front lawn area preserved.

However, some rehabilitation work will occur in the administration wing of the existing building including removal of nonoriginal exterior stone veneer. Some access points would also be changed or eliminated.

The project has been in the city’s pipeline since 2016 when it was proposed as a Tier 2 project including a building five stories and 70 feet in height. The original project was criticized for concerns regarding the overall scale, massing, and use of the building.

As currently proposed, the project has been reduced in size and modified to preserve the character of the adjacent GKGM building.

According to the staff report, the Wellness Center would accommodate a range of medical research activities, including space for laboratory modules, specialized equipment, medical archives, and support offices. The project would include approximately 54,000 square feet of medical related research and development space within the P1 level, ground floor, and second floor. Medical clinic and outpatient care would include exam rooms and flexible spaces for patient treatment and administration. The project would include 18,428 square feet of medical clinic space and occupy the entire third floor.

The commission approved the project with conditions that the look of the GKGM structure and landscaping remain generally unaltered, consistent plans for physically connecting the old and new construction be developed, the Landmarks Commission evaluate a historic interpretive exhibit and the applicant is given the chance to adopt any changes to parking rules in the future.

Commissioner Ellis Raskin abstained from the final vote and didn’t support the Environmental Impact Report prepared on the project. He said the loss of 10 potential apartment units needed to be addressed and that the $560,000 in mitigation fees paid to offset the removal was not enough.

“Notwithstanding how much money we’re getting out of it, we’re still losing 10 apartments,” he said. “That impact should be appropriately mitigated. For that reason I think I’m not going to be supporting the EIR.

Council has issued rules that temporarily suspend non-housing projects in the city but the rules exempted projects that had already begun the review process.

“I want to say very clearly, as we saw in the staff report, Council explicitly exempted applications that were in the pipeline as of a certain date when it moved to restrict the production of commercial uses on unavailable properties,” said Commissioner Shawn Landres. “So I too wish this was housing, it is a great site for housing. But I don’t feel in the context of a quasi-judicial hearing that we can refuse to certify the EIR or refuse to approve a project given the council has clearly made policy on this matter.”

Some commissioners raised concerns over chemicals in building materials, specifically formaldehyde, but as the project will comply with building codes, no specific rules were added over the issue.

“I am not happy that we cannot raise the bar regarding health and safety beyond what maybe the green code allowed,” said Mario Fonda Bonardi. “I think we should be pushing ahead. And every chance we get we should push ahead. So the argument that we can’t make it for this project because we’d have to make it for all the other projects, I think is exactly upside down. We should make it for all the other projects.”

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