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Nov 17, 2006, 8:05 PM
Another out of left field:

60 story tower addition to the Palace hotel.
SOM designed
Jessie and Arnie Sts.
Proposed height: 669 ft.
Would be San Francisco's tallest residential.

In today's Biz Times, more details to come.

I'm wondering where that would go. If it's part of the YB Development area, they won't need a great deal of city input, since the YB areas are covered by the SF Dev. agency's 'state' authority, which means sue hester can suck air... The old Call building at 75 Montgomery is protected (landmark) so I'm thinking either the ugly parking garage with the Office Max mini store???? Between the Paramount and the block with the Hearst Bldg?

Nov 17, 2006, 8:54 PM
"The proposed 269-unit skyscraper would emerge out of the back left corner of the Palace's 92,000 square foot lot, at Jessie and Annie alleys, replacing a 1989 addition to the hotel that would be demolished."

Nov 17, 2006, 8:58 PM
That pink monstrosity? Good--they really should tear that thing down.

269 units in 60 stories? Vertical mansions. Nice.

Nov 17, 2006, 9:09 PM
I wonder if the whole thing would be condos? Or would a portion be devoted to hotel like the St regis.
I want a RENDER !

Nov 17, 2006, 9:14 PM
I was wrong about the pink monstrosity--the 1989 addition is actually lowrise and beige.

I wonder if they'll replace the pool (that's where it currently is).


J Church
Nov 17, 2006, 10:01 PM
Also in today's issue, 535 Mission is back on. Back to office, but now 27 stories (was 24 in previous pre-condo incarnation). Filing for LEED fast-track like the 222 2nd project. HOK is still the architect.

Nov 17, 2006, 11:33 PM
I dont know about this project, something fishy going on here, sounding almost too good to be true. Of course, I would love to see it happen. However seeing as it is taller than both Millenium Tower and One Rincon Hill, and approaching the California Center realm, it better look good.

Nov 18, 2006, 12:26 AM
Also in today's issue, 535 Mission is back on. Back to office, but now 27 stories (was 24 in previous pre-condo incarnation). Filing for LEED fast-track like the 222 2nd project. HOK is still the architect.

If my memory serves me right, 535 Mission went from office to condo, and is now back to office. Is HOK allowed to simply re-submit that original office design, or do they have to go through the SF Planning Department process all over again? It's great they're applying for an LEED certified building. Hopefully all future high-rises are built that way. Now if we could just exempt LEED construction from Prop M.

Nov 18, 2006, 2:23 AM
Can Prop M be reversed through another ballot initiative?

Nov 18, 2006, 3:57 AM
1. My recollection is that 20 years ago, the Palace proposed a tower that was shot down by preservationists, mostly worried about the effect on the Garden Court. How is this tower different?

2. JChurch, I noticed you've added 185 Fremont to your proposed list. I seem to have missed this one. Anything you can tell us about it? Thanks

Nov 18, 2006, 7:28 AM
Maybe it is the same proposal, or a similar proposal that isnt meeting too much oposition ... change of times?

Nov 18, 2006, 8:35 AM
Transamerica pyramid was originally proposed at 1014 feet. Times have changed.

Nov 18, 2006, 9:02 AM
No, the original proposal had Transamerica at 1,150 ft. or 350 m.

Nov 18, 2006, 8:21 PM
I'm still upset that they didnt build it at its original height. Imagine seeing a 1150' (350m) tall Transamerica Pyramid in SF. Probably would have been twice as better ... not to impose on our pyramid today, its still beautiful and iconic nevertheless :)

Nov 19, 2006, 12:37 AM
Yea, a taller Pyramid would have been not as bulky as the current one now is.

I don't think anyone has posted this pic from Axis -San Jose.

Nov 19, 2006, 10:48 AM
The Garden Court at the Palace isn't in danger--those two barrel-shaped glass structures are not the Garden Court. One is over their pool, the other I don't know--but the Garden Court is actually hidden for the most part, closer to Market Street.

Nov 19, 2006, 5:57 PM
Quick Question.

Was there ever any confirmation that the Sofitel project was swallowed into the potential Piano building? I have thought about the incredible build up in that corridor recently and think that the Sofitel project seems more feasible now, especially with the area's population boom and the return of tourism numbers.

I looked back at the Biz Times article about Piano's involvement and it doesn't specifically say Sofitel's lot was acquired: "In the past three months, Choo's company has paid about $50 million for three buildings on the northwest corner of Mission and First streets."

Anyone know any particulars?

Nov 19, 2006, 6:41 PM
I always thought that the Sofitel Hotel was canceled after the economy soured during September 11, and that they came up with a new proposal that was eventually scraped to give way to Renzo's Tower. I think I'm wrong, but thats what I would imagine happened.

Nov 19, 2006, 7:45 PM
I always thought that the Sofitel Hotel was canceled after the economy soured during September 11, and that they came up with a new proposal that was eventually scraped to give way to Renzo's Tower. I think I'm wrong, but thats what I would imagine happened.

Golden Gate University still owns that plot of land. The Sofitel was supposed to include space for some of its professional programs. One of the extended hotel groups had optioned the land in 2005. I don't think they are land-banking that space, but in a few more years it will be twice as valuable as now.

Nov 19, 2006, 8:51 PM
I thought that it was to become part of the plot for the 1250' transit tower?

Nov 19, 2006, 10:36 PM
I thought that it was to become part of the plot for the 1250' transit tower?

Hey, hey, Macris and the Transbay JP Board are still talking 1,000 feet:-) It could be the case, like you said, and that's why there is no hotel under construction. For some reason, I'm thinking the tower is where current turnarounds for the Geary and Fulton busses and that semi-circular drive where the Golden Gate and Sam Trans loop and wait.

Nov 19, 2006, 10:58 PM
Hey, hey, Macris and the Transbay JP Board are still talking 1,000 feet:-) It could be the case, like you said, and that's why there is no hotel under construction. For some reason, I'm thinking the tower is where current turnarounds for the Geary and Fulton busses and that semi-circular drive where the Golden Gate and Sam Trans loop and wait.

Riiiight, 1000' ;) ;)

I think its good to speculate, but lets just be carefull not to say that anything is official if it is not.

Nov 20, 2006, 1:43 AM
The Sofitel thing died years ago.

Nov 20, 2006, 3:51 AM
As we had said in another forum, its too bad that it did, it had great potential. I still have my hopes that with Transbay going up, perhaps the Sofitel will be revived (in another location of course :) ).

Nov 20, 2006, 6:17 AM
It seems that David Choo has purchased the four adjacent northwest buildings on the corner of 1st and Mission; 76, 88, 50, and 62 First Sts., and NOT the Sofitel site. From what I can gather, Accor still owns the parcel. They cancelled the Sofitel development, but have not sold the plot. I was wondering if anyone knew what was up with it. Maybe they decided against it at that time (2003), but it's a far different market and neighborhood now, and the design is still on SOM's site.

Anyone know details?

Nov 20, 2006, 6:37 AM
If you follow San Francisco developments for any amount of time, you'll see that there is a difference in the height of an approved building and one that is built. For example, one rincon hill was listed as 550' and is now 643'
There was a discussion on here a while ago of the transit tower going as high as 1250'
Look at the proposal for the rezoning of the area - unlimited height and FAR.
If the tower is approved at 1000' it WILL be taller than that.

Nov 20, 2006, 7:35 AM
For your reading pleasure:

Palace uprising: 60-story condo tower
Luxury property would be built above landmark hotel
San Francisco Business Times - November 17, 2006
by J.K. Dineen

The Sheraton Palace Hotel's owner plans to build a slender, glass, 60-story condo highrise atop the landmark hotel, creating San Francisco's tallest residential building, according to documents filed with the city.

The proposed 269-unit skyscraper would emerge out of the back left corner of the Palace's 92,000-square-foot lot, at Jessie and Annie alleys, replacing a 1989 addition to the hotel that would be demolished.

The addition would soar 669 feet. One Rincon Hill, now under construction, will be 641 feet, and the Millennium tower at First and Mission streets, is slated to rise 645 feet.

Skidmore Owens Merrill is the design architect on the project, with preservation architects Page & Turnbull handling the historic aspects.

The Kyoya Corp., which owns the hotel, is controlled by Blackacre Capital Management, the real estate investment division of Cerberus Capital Management, a large privately held hedge fund run by financier Steve Feinberg. James Reuben, attorney for the owners, declined comment on the project.

The revised plans, submitted to the city Planning Department on Sept. 28 by Reuben & Junius partner Joel Yodowitz, would be twice the size of the Palace Hotel's last proposal, submitted in 2005. That application called for a 24-story tower with a total of 377,000 square feet in additional space.

The new addition would include a net gain of 727,109 square feet and bring the total of the Palace Hotel and condo development to 1.2 million square feet. The plan is for 41 one-bedroom units, 63 two-bedroom units, 111 two-bedroom "plus" units, and 51 three bedroom units. There would be three 8,000-square-foot penthouses on floors 58, 59, and 60. The eighth floor roof of the current Palace would be redesigned with a pool, spa and yoga space.

The Palace Hotel, city Landmark No. 18, was completed in 1909 and was the post-fire successor to William Ralston's 1873 hotel of the same name, which was the center of activity for the city's 19th century social elite. The building's most famous feature is the skylit garden court, which the architecture guide Splendid Survivors calls "an example of Parisian opulence equal to almost any contemporary space in Paris."

While the development will certainly come under close scrutiny from historical preservationists, Charles Chase, executive director of San Francisco Heritage, said he has seen the renderings of the proposed development and has "nothing but enthusiasm" for the design. Chase said the corner of the building that would be demolished for the tower was not significant.

"What is being proposed is a modern addition that doesn't affect the historic resource, which is the hotel itself," said Chase.

Still, past proposals for additions at the Palace have been shot down largely because any tower would likely cast a shadow on the garden court. Chase said he has requested a more detailed shadow study of how the new structure would impact the garden court.

"We are looking at and evaluating the effect of the shadowing," he said.

But Chase said several recent projects, including the Paramount luxury apartment complex at 680 Mission St. and 33 New Montgomery St., already cast shadows on the garden court.

Chase called the SOM design "highly transparent" and "light and thin."

"It's not a heavy bulky building, it's tall and elegant," he said. "It's very much a statement of its time, which we think is going to reinvigorate and extend the life of the historic resource."

Under the proposal, the hotel would hold onto all of its 518 rooms. This could become a significant point as the approval process progresses because Hotel Workers Union Local 2 has opposed efforts to convert hotel rooms to condos.

In 2005, the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel floated a plan to convert some of its hotel rooms to timeshare condos, an idea that prompted Supervisor Aaron Peskin to broker an 18-month moratorium on condo conversions at hotels.

J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/11/20/story1.html?t=printable

Nov 20, 2006, 7:39 AM
For your further reading pleasure:

Beacon takes dive into office project pool
Wants 'green' S.F. go-ahead for a 350,000-square-foot office tower
San Francisco Business Times - November 17, 2006
by J.K. Dineen

Beacon Capital Partners is going green at 535 Mission St.

The Boston-based developer has filed an application with the city to build a LEED-certified 27-story office building at 535 Mission, the second developer this month to take advantage of a new city planning policy that gives processing priority to projects built to standards set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for sustainable buildings

On Nov. 2 the Business Times reported that Tishman Speyer is planning to build a 33-story LEED building at 222 Second St. Beacon Capital filed its application Nov. 6.

The twin green towers proposed for the south financial district speak both to the bullishness of the downtown office market as well as the strength of the incentives created by the green building program. Under the program, project sponsors willing to do LEED projects are guaranteed to have a city planner assigned within two weeks, and an initial review within another two weeks. While the Planning Department has become more efficient in recent months, typically developers have waited six months to a year to be assigned a planner to conduct an initial review.

Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum has been tapped to design the 350,000-square-foot building. Senior Planner Craig Nikitas called the initial design "sculptural, strong, and elegant" with tapered walls and a curtain-wall system.

"All four vertical faces slope inward as it rises," said Nikitas.

HOK, which itself works in a LEED-certified office at 1 Bush St., has been a leader in green design, and earlier this year published a 450-page book on sustainable design. Officials from HOK and Beacon Capital did not return calls seeking comment.

Over the past decade, the site at 535 Mission has been the focus of several development schemes, both office and residential. In April, after entitling the site for a condo tower, developer Monahan Pacific sold it to Beacon, citing an "overheated" residential construction environment. Before the Monahan Pacific proposal, Hines had entitled it for an office complex, but dropped those plans after the tech crash of 2000. Beacon bought the land for $30 million, $10.8 million more than Monahan Pacific paid in 2003.

The project is next to the only office highrise currently under construction, Tishman Speyer's 555 Mission. The south financial district has a 9.5 percent vacancy rate, with average asking rates of approximately $40 a square foot. Overall downtown Class A vacancy rates are 11.1 percent, with average rates of about $36 a square foot.

J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/11/20/story4.html?t=printable

Nov 20, 2006, 7:46 AM
It never ends:

Filling up Market-Octavia
Neighborhood plan fuels first building project
San Francisco Business Times - November 17, 2006
by J.K. Dineen
Najib Joe Hakim

For six years local builder Brian Spiers has carefully watched the Market-Octavia plan wend its way through the city's seemingly endless planning process.

Now the plan is on the brink of passing, and Spiers is poised to be a pioneer in the new wave of housing development the zoning changes are expected to spur.

Spiers has acquired a prominent 22,000-square-foot lot at the corner of Buchanan and Market streets for between $9 million and $11 million. Currently a Union 76 gas station, the parcel is one of several along Market Street the plan identifies as a top priority for the Market-Octavia area.

The Market-Octavia plan aims to create a transit-oriented neighborhood with dense housing over retail and streets that that cater to walkers and bikers. The plan covers 379 acres including Hayes Valley, a portion of Mid-Market and Mission Dolores and part of Duboce Triangle. The plan, could result in 4,400 more housing units over the next 20 years, allows taller buildings near Van Ness Avenue and Market, but reduces heights in residential neighborhoods like Hayes Valley. It allows for three 400-foot towers clustered around the intersection of Market and Van Ness.

"There are a lot people waiting for this plan to go through -- they don't want to submit anything under the old zoning," he said.

Spiers has hired Miami-based design super star Arquitectonica to design an eight-story, 115-unit building on a sloped lot stepping down from the tan art deco apartment building above on Buchanan Street. Arquitectonica is more often associated with high-profile statement buildings like Tishman Speyer's Infinity project on Rincon Hill, but Spiers was referred to the firm by another builder and he was thrilled it said yes.

"The Planning Department wants good design and I hired Arquitectonica because I wanted to give them good design," said Spiers. "If you go up and down Market Street, this is one of the most visible sites. It is an important corner within the plan."

Spiers, a former carpenter, last year finished a 28-unit mixed-use project at 270 Valencia St., next to the old Levi Strauss factory.

The plan requires ground-floor retail along Market Street between Noe Street and Van Ness Avenue. Spiers has 220 feet of frontage along Market Street and plans to build a restaurant and two retail spaces. Spiers owns two bars in the city, including the Lucky 13, just up Market Street from the site. He said he would have loved to have had the new plan in place for the Valencia Street project because it would have given him 15-foot heights on his ground floor retail, instead of 10.

Chris Foley of Polaris Group brokered the land deal and will market the condo project when it is done. He said that Spiers, a Sunset District native, was determined to build a "pioneering project under the plan."

"He wants to really build an incredible, world-class building, which is why he hired a killer designer," said Foley. "It is going to cost him a lot of money, but he wants to be proud of the building and for the city to be proud of the building."

Lead Market-Octavia planner John Billovits said he hopes the Planning Commission will approve the plan Dec. 7 and move it to the Board of Supervisors by Dec. 14.

He said it's been satisfying to see developers like Spiers come forward plan-consistent projects.

"The plan is about more than just buildings, it's about neighborhood building," he said,

J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/11/20/story6.html?t=printable

Nov 20, 2006, 7:53 AM
Hotel action:

S.F. hotels undergo upgrades deferred since 2001
San Francisco Business Times - November 17, 2006
by Ryan Tate

After nearly three years of revenue gains, San Francisco hotels are investing in themselves again, with an expensive new round of renovations unseen since the dot-com days.

Many hotel owners deferred significant upgrades starting around 2001, when economic recession and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sharply curtailed travel into the city, starving hotels of business. Revenue per available room fell for three straight years, leaving many owners uncertain even as conditions improved in 2004 and 2005.

Now that it's clear the recovery has legs, owners are pumping money into rooms, lobbies, hallways and restaurants, hoping to participate in the rate increases that have swept the city. Those without the means or inclination to do so are selling their properties to new, better-capitalized owners intent on a renovations.

"It's a great time to take off," said Toni Knorr, general manager of the 410-room W San Francisco, in SOMA, which is about to embark on its most extensive renovation since it opened eight years ago.

A more dramatic makeover has been at the 550-room Hilton Financial District at 750 Kearny St. Owner Justice Investors of San Francisco hired Dow Hotel Company to manage the property a little over two years ago, following the expiration of a five-year lease to FelCor Lodging Trust. Justice and Dow in January wrapped up $45 million renovation that had closed the property for six months to transform a down-at-the-heels Holiday Inn into a bustling business hotel.

The changes brought a brighter lobby with a new cafe, lounge and restaurant; refurbished meeting rooms with videoconferencing and electronic signs; and guestrooms with flat-screen televisions, large desks, new carpets, new bedding and new bathrooms.

Another change was more subtle: plugging in to Hilton's guest loyalty program. Close to 35 percent of guests are members of the program.

The result? Room revenue is up 80 percent for the last six months of 2006, compared with the same period just before the hotel closed in 2004. Food and beverage revenues are up 156 percent.

"The property is poised to be very successful in 2007 and the future," said General Manager Mark Everton.

The Hilton Financial District and the W are hardly alone. The city's top-rated hotel, Ritz Carlton, in June completed a $12.5 million renovation of all rooms and suites, with new furniture and electronics, including high-definition televisions.

The 313-room Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf is in the midst of an extensive renovation. Joie de Vivre, the San Francisco boutique hotel chain, is a few weeks away from wrapping up a $7 million renovation of the 177-room Galleria Park at 191 Sutter Street after acquiring it last year.

Then there are the large, recent hotel trades, which have sparked their own wave of makeovers. The Park Hyatt is being remade as a Meridien, complete with a new art gallery, after being bought in the spring. The recently-traded Argent will become a Westin, the Pan Pacific is now a JW Marriott. The Renaissance Parc 55 is in the process of being sold.

Thomas Callahan, CEO of San Francisco-based hotel advisory firm PKF Consulting, said the race to renovate has become so intense that many national brands are telling franchisees they must finally, after years of delay, make upgrades in order to keep their "flag," or brand.

"It's very sophisticated analyses most of these operators are doing -- continually doing projections on lift in room rate for various improvements," Callahan said. "If I spend $10,000 upgrading my room, I am going to get quite a return on room rate."

Ryan Tate covers hospitality for the San Francisco Business Times.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/11/20/story8.html?t=printable

Nov 20, 2006, 5:28 PM
Yeah, so long Union-76 station. Now, if someone could do something about the sheetworker union hall across the street... (not the union, the building. EWWWW!)

J Church
Nov 20, 2006, 6:18 PM
You know what else is going away on that stretch of Market -- the abandoned one-story commercial with the parking in front next to the GLBT center, you know, the one that's set back at an angle. Something like 300 condos starting construction soon.

Nov 20, 2006, 6:24 PM
Yeah, so long Union-76 station. Now, if someone could do something about the sheetworker union hall across the street... (not the union, the building. EWWWW!)

Furtunately, I don't have a car in SF to worry about any more but I used to get my smog inspetions there. If I still needed to, I'd miss it.

When I first read this and saw another gas station biting the dust, my first thought was that this must be part of the greater conspiracy to drive cars completely out of town. For sure, the places to buy gas are getting rare.

J Church
Nov 20, 2006, 7:08 PM
There's a meeting of the No Gas Station Cabal at 5 o'clock. Wanna come?

Nov 20, 2006, 8:39 PM
There's a meeting of the No Gas Station Cabal at 5 o'clock. Wanna come?

If you mean me, it would be a long trip--940 miles give or take. I'm in Tucson but SSP, the BizTimes and SFGate are my main ways to keep up on doings at home (SF).

Thanks, though, and please keep us advised on the cabal's plans.

Nov 20, 2006, 9:07 PM
Who's bringing the dip??? Make sure it's petroleum free:-)

Nov 20, 2006, 11:21 PM
The cabal's plans are now, as always, to deprive motorists of their god-given right to pump gasoline right on San Francisco's biggest ceremonial urban boulevard. But hush now--it can't be a conspiracy if it's out in the open like this.

Regarding the new condos about to go up next to the GLBT Center--this is cause for celebration. I'm not the only one who remembers when that stretch of Market Street was pretty sad--a used car lot right at Valencia, the double decker freeway and rental truck parking lots, an imploding, abandoned victorian at Octavia, more parking lots, that crappy strip-mall type store set to close. I used to look at much of that from my home on Elgin Park as recently as 1998--today, that may be the most improved stretch of Market Street in the entire city.

Nov 21, 2006, 12:44 AM
I walk that stretch of Market a lot, due to it being between some of my favorite bars and my apartment. The Union 76 is not ALL bad - zipcars live there! =) But yeah, glad to see it go.

Nov 21, 2006, 2:47 AM
Amidst the celebration at the improvements on Market St., I'd like to inject a little smile about some renewal happening along the street where I live, Van Ness. Aside from the fact that 730 should be nearing completion (or at least the exterior--it was close to topping out 6 weeks ago when I left for Tucson), I am told by a friend that demolition is well underway at 810, a former 1 story very ugly squat grey mattress store. I managed to come up with this puny rendering of the replacement:


which is described thusly: "a proposed 52 unit 8-story building . . . available late 2007-early 2008".

If anybody has additional info or a better rendering, I'd be very appreciative.

And I can't think of a single gas station left on Van Ness, San Francisco's widest ceremonial urban boulevard.

Nov 21, 2006, 3:30 AM
I don't mean to kill any buzz with the changes on Van Ness, but I can't help but be irritated at the wasted opportunity. 8 stories on Van Ness? One of the City's main thoroughfares, prepping for BRT? Come on. These should be at least 200'.

Nov 21, 2006, 4:05 AM
I don't mean to kill any buzz with the changes on Van Ness, but I can't help but be irritated at the wasted opportunity. 8 stories on Van Ness? One of the City's main thoroughfares, prepping for BRT? Come on. These should be at least 200'.

There's a 40 ft height limit. You can go higher--730 is 13 stories--with a setback to maintain the 40 ft. streetwall. But the character of the place is more like the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, which we have discussed before and where most of the buildings are 9 stories, than like a highrise neighborhood in Manhattan. The place San Francisco is presently encouraging highrises is SOMA and Rincon Hill--contiguous to downtown--and there's room there to build all of those anybody presently seems to want to build. If that area gets built out, I'd be for building them along 3rd St. where the city just spent megabucks putting in light rail transit (Van Ness has good bus service but no rail and the busses are already packed). Smaller developers like the guys doing these Van Ness buildings are not capable of highrise development and the large companies like Turnberry that are don't seem interested.

But admittedly, there's some NIMBYism involved. The building I live in is 13 stories--also on Van Ness--and several of my neighbors led the opposition to 730 Van Ness. In order not to make enemies, I had to pull a disappearing act when they sought my help.

Bottom line, though--8 stories of good quality modern housing is a major improvement over single-story cheap-as-possible low end retail which is what it was.

Nov 21, 2006, 4:42 AM
Plus, the intersection of Market and Van Ness is zoned for 40 story towers while the immediate (adjacent blocks) are zoned for towers upto 30 stories. Any body recall if the South Van Ness section drops back down to the 13-story height limit?

J Church
Nov 21, 2006, 4:53 AM
And I can't think of a single gas station left on Van Ness, San Francisco's widest ceremonial urban boulevard.

The closest to Market is at Pine.

My neighborhood group met with the developer of 810 but all I can remember is that it sounded like a fine project. Just more good, solid infill for Van Ness (sorry if it's not tall enough for some folks; VN is slowly turning into a great street nonetheless).

coyotetrickster, it's in the M&O plan, which I'm too lazy to go check right now.

Nov 21, 2006, 6:25 AM
Sorry--duplicate post

Nov 21, 2006, 6:26 AM
[i]The closest to Market is at Pine.

Oh, yeah. For 20+ years I've been catching the bus at the stop on that corner and ignoring the gas station (and renting cars at Hertz next door). I don't think I've ever bought gas there. You can put it on the cabal's agenda.

Nov 21, 2006, 8:23 PM
From the Biz Times:

Signaling an emphasis on transportation issues, a San Francisco think tank has recruited a transportation expert to oversee policy.

The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association said Wednesday that Dave Snyder is the new director of transportation policy. Snyder, who has worked on SPUR's board since 1999, said he will focus on improving MUNI's performance, the MUNI subway extension to Chinatown and the Caltrain extension to the Transbay Terminal.

Snyder's past transportation experience includes work with the Thunderhead Alliance, a national coalition of bicycle and pedestrian advocates. Snyder also was executive director of Transportation for a Livable City, a San Francisco organization that promotes transportation and land use. He sat on the board of directors for City Carshare, a car-sharing service begun in 2001, and also was executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

MUNI must improve its finances, Snyder said. If not, he said, "It's a potential public transit tragedy." A SPUR report last March said "unless new revenue sources are found, MUNI will continue on its downward spiral of fare increases and service cuts rather than expanding and improving."

Neither the planned Caltrain extension to the Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco nor the planned MUNI subway to Chinatown have enough money, Snyder said. He planned to work with leaders of both projects to shore up funding.

Nov 21, 2006, 8:41 PM
The closest to Market is at Pine.

There's a Chevron on Van Ness and Mission. That's where I fill up my scooter.

Nov 22, 2006, 12:20 AM
There's a Chevron on Van Ness and Mission. That's where I fill up my scooter.

Ahem! I believe that would be SOUTH Van Ness and Mission. ;)

Nov 23, 2006, 8:01 PM
High-rise condos sprouting
Luxury residences in San Francisco are plentiful as developers jump into market sector that hasn't slowed
- Marni Leff Kottle, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, November 23, 2006

Luxury living in San Francisco traditionally has meant a Pacific Heights mansion or a house perched on a bluff in Sea Cliff. But with a new wave of glitzy, high-rise condo towers south of Market Street, developers are trying to change that.

As many as 30,000 condos are under construction, planned or proposed in San Francisco and about half of those units will probably wind up being built in the next five years, according to Foresight Analytics, a consulting firm.

"San Francisco, up until recently, has never really been a city for high-rise residential development," said Don Peebles, a Florida developer who is working on two high-end projects in San Francisco. "An evolution in the South of Market area has really taken place over the last 15 years."

But with the influx of new building, the question is how quickly developers will be able to find buyers, and at what price.

So far, the San Francisco new condo sales, for the most part, have been sheltered from the kinds of decline other segments of the Bay Area housing market have seen. At the highest end, the market is an island governed by its own set of rules with buyers who have few financial constraints or in some cases are shopping for their second or third home.

But with developers taking deposits of just 3 to 5 percent for many of the most expensive units in the city, some economists question whether buyers will go through with their purchases a year or more from now when it's time to close the deal. About 7,500 new condos are scheduled to open next year and the year after -- including high-profile projects such as One Rincon Hill and the Infinity. The additional supply will slow the market, tripling the time it takes to sell a unit and slowing price appreciation, according to Foresight.

"We think that the average time to sell will lengthen from three or fewer months now to six to nine months," said Matt Anderson, a partner at Foresight. "That may not sound like that much, but in a market that is used to a rapid rate of sales, it will be a noticeable shift."

Developers in other segments of the condo market are already offering incentives to compensate for the increased supply. Buildings such as the Beacon, the Lansing and the Palms are offering discounted mortgages in a bid to reel in new buyers.

Whether those kinds of programs will spread to the trophy properties remains unclear.

Price appreciation across the new condo market has already slowed dramatically. The median price of a new condo will probably be about $640,000 this year, up 2.5 percent from 2005, Anderson said. Prices rose 10 to 15 percent in each of the two years prior to that.

Number of units to jump

Developers will release about 3,000 condos to the market next year, more than double the 1,200 put up for sale this year, Anderson estimates. That number will jump to 4,500 in 2008 before slowing.

Still, developers remain optimistic that there's enough demand to sell out their buildings. They say that the city's strong job growth, increasing population and wealthy out-of-towners looking for second homes will spur sales.

"We continue to believe in San Francisco," said Carl Shannon, regional director for Tishman Speyer's San Francisco and Silicon Valley projects. "The market is not as strong as it was, but it is still quite strong."

The Infinity project will include two towers and a shorter building that will house a gym and some of the development's less-expensive units. The first tower is set to open by early 2008 and Tishman has already begun selling condos. How quickly work begins on the second tower will depend on sales in the first tower, Shannon said.

He declined to say how many units have been sold. The units start at about $800,000 and cost an average of $1,000 per square foot. A buyer recently agreed to pay more than $5 million for two units on the top floor that will be combined into a single apartment.

Tishman is collecting deposits of 3 percent from buyers on studios and 5 percent for bigger units, which is typical for presales in San Francisco. One Rincon Hill is collecting 5 percent deposits and has contracts for more than 90 percent of the 376 units in the project's first tower.

Economists say that the presale practice, which is relatively new in San Francisco, raises concerns because buyers have too little at stake.

"Such a small deposit is required that it makes it a very risky endeavor," said Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at UC Berkeley. "It's a very, very flimsy view of what's sold."

So far neither the Infinity nor One Rincon Hill, whose buyers are more affluent and which are slated to open the end of next year, have not used incentives to lure buyers.

For other builders, however, it's a different story.

When the Beacon, a 595-unit complex across the street from AT&T Park, opened in March 2005, there was little competition. The first weekend, the developer, Centurion Real Estate Partners, sold 50 units.

Toward the end of last year, the pace began to slow, said John Tashjian, a principal at Centurion. Instead of racing back to the sales office to sign a contract after viewing a unit, buyers make two or three trips to the building before committing, he said.

So the Beacon is working with buyers, advertising below-market mortgage rates and agreeing to a break on monthly homeowners association dues. Through a program with the lender, Americorp Funding, the buyers get a 4.69 percent interest rate for the first three years and Centurion pays the difference.

Subsidized mortgages, often called mortgage buydowns, are popular because they allow developers to offer a discount on a buyer's monthly payment without lowering the price.

"They are offering those types of promotions because they are trying to hold the list price higher than it really should be," said Berkeley's Rosen. "That shows weakening of demand already."

At the 82-unit Lansing, 21 buyers decided to purchase because of a similar promotion that discounted the mortgage rate to 4.625 percent for three years, said Alan Mark, whose firm, the Mark Co., is marketing the Lansing, the Watermark and several other new condo buildings.

And a few blocks away, the Palms, a 300-unit project, also offers a 4.625 percent mortgage.

"The question is, what is the hook that will get people to buy," Mark said. "For a lot of first-time buyers, it is that monthly payment."

A break on paying dues

That's one reason developers are also offering a break of as much as two years on homeowner's association dues that can run from $500 to $800 a month for a total of almost $20,000 over two years, said Nikki Gunn, a real estate agent at Pacific Union's South Beach office.

"It's a really big chunk of the monthly payment and (association) fees aren't tax deductible," Gunn said.

At projects such as the Park Terrace, a 110-unit building on Berry Street, incentives aren't being advertised.

The building isn't scheduled for completion until spring and it's a relatively small project. That means that selling 5 to 10 units a month is enough for now, said Paul Zeger, chief executive of Pacific Marketing Associates, which is helping to sell the project.

So far, the approach is working.

Gerald Lowe, an almost-retired San Francisco native who works in the sheet metal industry, and his wife recently put a 3 percent deposit on a two-bedroom apartment in the building.

"We wanted to move to a new area," said Lowe, who sold his house on Dolores Street and is living in an apartment until his new unit is ready. "I love the location -- we're going to have a little bit of a view and we liked the park and the promenade."

They didn't work any perks into the deal and hope to move into the new place in July.

Still, Zeger said, there may be some room for negotiation for serious buyers.

"People want to come away with a little something," he said during an open house earlier this month for brokers at the Park Terrace's sales center. The office features a mock kitchen and bathroom, which is complete down to the toothbrush next to the sink.

Right now, real estate experts say, the developers who are relying on incentives are close to completing projects. How much developers will need to use such programs to lure buyers for the 7,500 units expected to open next year and the year after is something that only time will tell, said Berkeley's Rosen.

"There's no way to know how much of the demand is real," he said. "A good portion of it may be. But the condo market is certainly in a riskier position in the housing market than anything else we have going on."


E-mail Marni Leff Kottle at mkottle@sfchronicle.com.

Changing skyline

More than 30,000 condominiums are proposed, planned or under
construction, the majority of them in the South-of-Market area. Here are 10
projects and the number of market-rate units for sale. Some of the condos have
already been sold and are occupied. The number of below-market-rate units was
not available.


Market units
Name Address Neighborhood commenced for sale

1. The Odeon 181 O'Farrell Union Square October 2006 29

2. The Infinity 300 Spear South of Market June 2006 365
3. One Rincon Hill 425 First St. South of Market June 2006 382
4. Arterra 320 Berry St. Mission Bay June 2006 269
5. The Palms 555 4th St. South of Market November 2005 300
6. The Lansing 50 Lansing St. South of Market July 2005 72
7. The Beacon 250 King St. Mission Bay February 2005 567
8. The Watermark 501 Beale St. South Beach September 2005 120
9. 235 Berry 235 Berry St. Mission Bay February 2006 52
10. 188 King Street 188 King St. South of Market June 2006 44
The Chronicle
Sources: The Mark Group, ESRI; TeleAtlas, Foresight Analytics

San Frangelino
Nov 27, 2006, 5:36 AM
New Renderings of a San Josie High Rise

1 South Market – San Jose, California

CLIENT GOAL: Enhance an existing downtown district by encouraging around-the-clock activity through residential and retail development.

DESIGN RESPONSE: Located in the heart of downtown. The building is adjacent to the San Pedro Square dining and entertainment district. New retail space at street level and the addition of permanent residents will strengthen and improve the district. The building design utilizes traditional materials in a modern curtainwall skin at the base and rises to a modern glass and stone tower that will offer residents views of downtown and the surrounding Santa Cruz and Diablo Mountain ranges.The residents of the 300 luxury condos can enjoy amenities including a landscaped elevated plaza deck with lap pool and spa. Bus and lightrail access is only one block away.





Nov 27, 2006, 5:58 PM
Jack Myers's new project:

Developer plans to build huge So. S.F. office complex on spec
San Francisco Business Times - November 24, 2006
by J.K. Dineen
Jack Myers is going spec on Mandalay Terrace.

Myers Development Co. is aiming for an April groundbreaking for the 670,000-square-foot office complex at the foot of San Bruno Mountain. The project was approved by the South San Francisco City Council on Oct. 25.

Myers said building speculatively has traditionally been the rule, rather than the exception, on the Peninsula.

"The Peninsula is not set up as a pre-leasing market," he said. "When you have structural steel going up, that is when brokers and tenants get interested."

Mandalay Terrace will consist of two 335,000-square-foot buildings with a 2,000-car garage. The architect is SOM, the firm that also designed Myers' well-regarded 101 Second St. building in San Francisco. Hathaway Dinwiddie is the general contractor. CB Richard Ellis will lease the property. SunChase Capital of Arizona is Myers silent partner on the development.

Myers said the explosion of biotech powers like Genentech and Biogen in South San Francisco has created a need for Class A office space for the lawyers, accountants, bankers and venture capitalists feeding off the life science industry.

"A lot of these companies want to be as close to the till as they can," said Myers.

Mandalay Terrace is the last of six sites entitled for development within the San Bruno Mountain Park. Myers called the design "organic" with its soft lines meant to reflect the terrain and topography of San Bruno Mountain. Each office tower will be clad with continuous glass curtain walls "the surface of which will become a shifting canvas for the sky, fog, and vegetation." Translucent glass fins will ascend the height of the building.

Only eight of the campus's 21 acres are used for development, and the open space will feature "people places" providing worker bees a green respite from the cubicle.

The South tower, the first to be built, will rise 12 stories with 27,000-square-foot floorplates.

Myers had originally entitled the property as retail and residential, but switched it to office space last spring as that sector started to pick up.

Myers bought the land in 1998 and expects to be able to construct the project for $400 a square foot -- a significant savings over the $500 to $600 a square foot new construction costs in downtown San Francisco.

Class A rents in the area are currently in the $32 to $36 range. Myers is expecting that to jump, but didn't want to make projections.

"I'm not going to try and out-think the market," he said.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/11/27/newscolumn2.html?t=printable

Nov 27, 2006, 6:01 PM
Transbay progress:

Transbay draws crowd
Submittals for the new Transbay Transit Center and Tower competition are not due until Jan. 11, but a pre-submittal meeting held Nov. 15 offers a window onto to the identity of some of the would-be designers and developers.

Developers attending the meeting included representatives from Forest City, Clark Realty Capital, Kenwood Investments, Wilson Meany Sullivan, Hines, Shorenstein Properties and Boston Properties. Designers included SOM, Studios, HOK, Chong Partners, HellerManus, KMD and Arquitectonica. The fact that the meeting sign-in list includes none of the marquee international designers rumored to be working on a submittal -- such as Richard Rogers, Frank Gehry and Sir Norman Foster -- is not surprising. All of these architects would likely be teaming up with local design firms.

The architects attending were local, with one exception: Denver-based Fentress Bradburn, an experienced transportation specialist that has done airports in Seoul, Korea, Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Denver.

Dec 2, 2006, 2:23 AM
BizTimes says Foundry Square IV to be green:


Dec 3, 2006, 7:49 AM
So I noticed on my biweekly walking tour of SOMA construction sites this week that they were doing soil testing at the old sofitel site at first and mission. Is something up?

Dec 4, 2006, 8:14 PM
Does anyone know if both infinity towers will be constructed at the same time or one by one? Also, what's the official height for those towers?

Also, does anyone know what ever happened to the whole Jack Myers tower? I think the last thing I heard was that the city was planning on buying the land because they don't think the Intermodal station could be built underneath the tower. Any updates to that issue?

Dec 5, 2006, 12:23 AM
So I noticed on my biweekly walking tour of SOMA construction sites this week that they were doing soil testing at the old sofitel site at first and mission. Is something up?

Well, supposedly Renzo Piano is designing an 850' building for that corner. He might want to know the soil conditions.

Dec 5, 2006, 12:31 AM
Does anyone know if both infinity towers will be constructed at the same time or one by one? Also, what's the official height for those towers?

Also, does anyone know what ever happened to the whole Jack Myers tower? I think the last thing I heard was that the city was planning on buying the land because they don't think the Intermodal station could be built underneath the tower. Any updates to that issue?

Both towers of "The Infinity" are part of the structure presently under construction. What is not yet under construction--and won't be, as I understand it, until The Infinity is nearing sell-out status--is the very similar building on the next block of Folsom by the same developer.

The Board of Supervisors voted to sieze Myers's lot by eminent domain and as far as I know that has been done. The matter of how much Myers is owed may still be in the courts, but his building on that lot (known as "The Century") is dead. The reason the lot was siezed was that Myers's building was incompatible with existing plans to bring CalTrain to the new TransBay Terminal and efforts to work out a compromise failed. The station will not be underneath that lot but part of the tunnel bringing trains to the station may be.

Dec 5, 2006, 8:40 AM
Thanks for replying.

Do we know for sure that the Piano project includes the Sofitel plot. The SF Business Times story only listed properties on 1st Street. A post here that said it did include the Sofitel plot also misidentified the site for the third tower.

Maybe we can take the soil testing as a confirmation?

Dec 5, 2006, 3:15 PM
Pseudolus, thank you for being so observant.

This has been a mystery for me. Personally, I think the Sofitel site is not involved with Piano.

Here's my rationale:

There was never confirmation that Accor (Sofitel's parent company) sold the parcel. From what I understand, after buying it from Golden Gate University, and then postponing hotel development plans, they have just held onto it.

Secondly, the five parcels that David Choo and his company have assembled for the Piano tower are all on first street, not Mission.

In addition, I don't think Choo would be ready to move on the Piano tower because I have only read speculation, not confirmation, that he would design the tower. And secondly, the TJPA and Board have not officially upzoned the sites yet.

Who knows? Maybe Accor is considering action.

Dec 6, 2006, 5:49 AM
Milestone for new bay span
Last of 452 concrete slabs, at about 780 tons apiece, to head down delta to construction site
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

In a gritty construction yard in the Port of Stockton this morning, Caltrans and Bay Area transportation officials will mark a milestone in the already lengthy history of the new Bay Bridge.

A giant crane will hoist a 780-ton, wing-shaped chunk of concrete onto a barge -- and the last of 452 pieces that make up the deck of the 1.4-mile skyway portion of the span will begin a 10-hour journey through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Bay Bridge construction site.

The huge concrete slab will sit, along with another bridge segment, atop separate barges anchored in the bay just north of the bridge until Friday. Crews will then pull the barges into position and cranes mounted on installed segments will lift the new pieces -- filling the last visible gap in the concrete skyway, near its center.

For any construction project, this would be a milestone worth commemorating. But for the new Bay Bridge, which has been otherwise marked by political infighting, delays and multibillion-dollar cost overruns, this is a big deal, officials said.

As political feuds raged in 2004 and 2005 over the design of the so-called signature span of the bridge, which will reach across the final 1,860 feet west from the skyway to Yerba Buena Island, construction of the twin concrete viaducts that make up the skyway section of the bridge forged ahead.

"We are all excited about completion," said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is overseeing construction of the span. "It's a memorable event. Even outside all the controversy, this bridge is memorable. It's a monumental achievement to get this built."

When the last segment of the bridge is in place, the skyway section of the bridge will be about 96 percent complete. For the next year, contractors for Kiewit-FCI-Manson, the joint venture building the skyway, will install cables and epoxy to tie the segments together, finish attaching the steel deck that will hold the bike path and apply the polyester concrete paving for the roadway.

The twin viaducts will wait while a separate construction crew -- American Bridge-Fluor -- builds the single-tower, self-anchored suspension span over the next six years.

"It will be used as a staging and access area for the (suspension) span," said Bart Ney, a Caltrans spokesman.

American Bridge has already set up camp at Pier 7 in Oakland and is submitting construction drawings for approval, he said. The contractor is also setting up outside the steel fabrication plant for the span's tower in Shanghai, China.

The Stockton prefabrication yard, which opened in 2003, is already being taken apart and the equipment either sold off or moved to other construction sites.

Building bridges by pre-casting the segments elsewhere, then assembling them on-site, is a common practice. But the bridge project was the largest pre-cast operation, Caltrans officials said.

The 452 segments cast in Stockton varied slightly in size but averaged about 85 feet wide, 25 feet long and three stories tall. The first segment was completed in June 2003. It took workers three to five days to cast each segment by pumping concrete into forms filled with steel reinforcement bars.

Workers cast nine segments at a time, end to end, to make sure they fit together. Engineers used lasers, mounted in towers, to measure the segments, which had to be within one-eighth of an inch of specifications.

A monstrous crane, which sits atop 16 tires, each 12 feet tall, carried the wing-shape concrete pieces to a storage area that workers called the "boneyard." As many as 180 segments were stored on the site as they awaited their barge trips down the delta.

http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/5589/babaybridge054mjmhc9.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/2905/babaybridgegrfsf8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

The last of 452 concrete sections in the 1.4-mile-long skyway section of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will ship today from Stockton to San Francisco Bay, where the 780-ton piece will be jacked up and attached on Friday.

Western approach replacement
Under construction.

Estimated completion: 2009


Western span

Seismic retrofit

completed 2004


Yerba Buena Island transition span

Preliminary work started.

Estimated completion: 2013


Single-tower suspension span

Contract awarded in March 2006.

Estimated completion: 2013


Work will be 96% complete

this week.

Estimated completion: Dec. 2007


Oakland touchdown

Work not yet started.

Estimated completion: 2013

E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanataun@sfchronicle.com.

Dec 6, 2006, 6:16 AM
Big news for the south bay! Hopefully this will be the start of a great transformation.:)

Judge OKs North San Jose redevelopment
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - 5:08 PM PST Tuesdayby Sharon Simonson

The final hurdle to a massive redevelopment plan for 5,000 acres in North San Jose has been cleared.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Leslie Nichols, who put San Jose's plans on hold in March, Tuesday signed documents to remove the last legal impediments to the plan's execution.

San Jose has sought a means to revitalize its North First Street corridor, the largest concentration of industrial development in the city and home to some of the region's most important companies such as Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO), Sony Electronics Inc. and BEA Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:BEAS)

The area had been hit hard by the region's economic downturn, leaving many of its buildings empty and undermining the city tax base.

Under the new plan, the city hopes to bring in 32,000 new homes and apartments, 26 million square feet of new industrial development and about 1.5 million square feet of new restaurants, shops and supporting services.

"This is huge. Just wonderful. It makes an economic development director's decade," San Jose Economic Development Director Paul Krutko said of the news.

The judge could have required San Jose to go through additional steps, some of which could have postponed the plan's implementation by another year, Krutko noted. This way, housing developers who have already submitted plans to the city can push forward, he said. In addition, office landlords with existing, obsolete buildings can explore new development.

Under the plan, office development is allowed at up to four times the density permitted in the past. That means instead of an acre of land supporting a roughly 10,000-square-foot building, it will now support a building of approximately 45,000 square feet.

Numerous housing developers have already filed plans with the city to build new, high-density apartments and for-sale homes in the region, as well. Those plans can now be implemented.


J Church
Dec 6, 2006, 6:22 AM
That is good news.

Dec 6, 2006, 7:49 AM
North First has always bugged me. Its LRT line is way under utilized, the street is totally pedestrian hostile, and the buildings are beyond bland. If they really want to transform the area they're going to need to do a lot more than just make it dense, it has to be 100x more pedestrian friendly.

J Church
Dec 6, 2006, 8:29 AM
Hey, man, one step at a time.


Dec 6, 2006, 8:34 AM
Thanks for replying.

Do we know for sure that the Piano project includes the Sofitel plot. The SF Business Times story only listed properties on 1st Street. A post here that said it did include the Sofitel plot also misidentified the site for the third tower.

Maybe we can take the soil testing as a confirmation?

I actually did not mean to imply that the Sofitel lot is part of the Choo project necessarily. The fact is that at least it is adjacent and is vacant land. If it is not part of Choo's site, then pretty much all of Choo's site presently has buildings sitting on it. Until those are demolished, if one wants to know the nature of the underlying soils, one might have to do the sampling next door, no?

Dec 6, 2006, 4:23 PM
Hey, man, one step at a time.


i cant remember where i saw those images b4, but i remember reading something about how downtown san jose wanted to create a "2nd downtown" on this stretch of 1st street. so heres my question for those who know san jose better than i do: 1) how far is this part of town from the actual "downtown", and if its close, would this be an extension of dt, or its own seperate district?

Dec 7, 2006, 1:02 AM
i cant remember where i saw those images b4, but i remember reading something about how downtown san jose wanted to create a "2nd downtown" on this stretch of 1st street. so heres my question for those who know san jose better than i do: 1) how far is this part of town from the actual "downtown", and if its close, would this be an extension of dt, or its own seperate district?

This would definitely be its own distinct district as it's roughly 2.5 miles away from the DT proper.

Dec 7, 2006, 4:53 AM
would this new development be bigger than the current downtown, or is it just a large development to add to it?

Dec 7, 2006, 4:59 AM
Huge So. S.F. office complex

The problem with this complex and with the exisiting mandaly condo tower in the same spot is they are 100% totally autocentric and really eyesores against San Bruno Mountion. Really bad planning IMO by South City which has both underutilized Bart and CalTrain stops

Dec 14, 2006, 3:36 AM
Webcor update for CENTRAL PLACE, SAN JOSE, CA...




J Church
Dec 14, 2006, 7:37 AM
Now which project is that again? (I know, probably only a page or two back ... but I have a hard time visualizing S.J. projects.)

Dec 14, 2006, 7:41 AM
^Actually these are two different projects...

Central Place



Dec 15, 2006, 8:03 AM
socketsite saying that radiance at mission bay has broken ground, here:


Dec 15, 2006, 5:45 PM
:previous: Looking for a rendering of Radiance at Mission Bay, since I am unfamiliar with it, I came across this site http://www.tndwest.com/missionbay.html with this neat image:


Anyway, here is the site of Radiance at Mission Bay:


And this quote from a recent BizTimes article ( http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/12/04/story2.html?page=2&b=1165208400%5E1383949 ) confirms they are under construction: "Bosa Development is charging ahead with construction just to the south, with the 319-unit Radiance at Mission Bay on Parcel 10a."

However, I was still unable to find a rendering, even at the Bosa site or Emporis.

Dec 15, 2006, 11:13 PM
BizTimes article this week on who's in and who's not for the TransBay Terminal tower and tower design contest. I posted the details and will try to post the article when an HTML version is available at the project thread in the Highrises section.

The BizTimes also says a "group backed by California Mortgage and Realty" is assembling a development site at the corner of Market and Van Ness, a parcel that the Mrket-Octavia Plan will designate for a 400' tower (overall in this area the plan calls for 4 "thin" towers resulting in a "24-hr" mixed use district). "The group, 1540 Market St. NV, LLC" paid $7.8 million for 1510-1520 market St, "a wedge-shaped parking lot running along the intersection of Market and Oak St."

I wonder if it includes the funky/nasty 2-story donut shop on the corner. One can only hope so.

In June, says the article, the same group purchased the abutting 1540 Market St. for $6.5 million.

Of note is that CMR is David Choo's company--the same one reportedly having Renzo Piano design a building for the corner of First and Mission.

Again, I will try to post the article when it's available in HTML.

Dec 17, 2006, 7:59 AM
Ae there any San Jose rumors or anything about a say 500 footish building? It needs one to really get the skyline going

Dec 18, 2006, 4:55 AM
Ae there any San Jose rumors or anything about a say 500 footish building? It needs one to really get the skyline going

San Jose can't go above 300ft because of the airport. What you see going up now is as tall as you will ever see.

This picture by KCgridlock should explain everything ;)


Dec 18, 2006, 5:47 AM
Here's the BizTimes article. I'm surprised nobody has had anything to say about this. I'm frankly ecstatic that the ugly little 2-story snack bar and parking lot that has underdeveloped this important corner for decades could "soon" be history and arguably San Francisco's most important intersection (or at least the intersection of its 2 widest streets) will begin to be developed as it deserves to be.

Group quietly assembles site for second highrise
San Francisco Business Times - December 15, 2006
by J.K. Dineen

A group backed by California Mortgage and Realty is assembling a development site on a key corner at Van Ness Avenue and Market Street, a parcel that the pending Market-Octavia plan has designated for a 400-foot residential tower.

The group, 1540 Market St. NV LLC, recently shelled out $7.8 million on 1510-1520 Market St., a wedge-shaped parking lot running along the intersection of Market and Oak streets.

In June, the same group purchased the abutting 1540 Market St. for $6.5 million. CMR President David Choo and Vice President Henry Park signed a $9 million loan with the First East National Bank on the parking lot purchase, according to Old Republic Title Co. and public documents.

With the deal, CMR and David Choo become key players in two of the city's most important redevelopment areas.

In addition to the purchases in the Market-Octavia area, CMR has also been quietly assembling parcels for a proposed tower across from the Transbay Terminal that may be designed by star architect Renzo Piano.

Headed by Choo, 42, CMR bought 62 First St. in 2004 for $10 million, and this year the company has shelled out another $50 million for three other buildings on the block: 76-80 First St., 88 First St., and 50 First St., an acquisition which closed in late May.

Ron Heckman, a spokesman for CMR, declined to comment.

John Billovits, a city planner who is working on the Market-Octavia rezoning, which is expected to be approved by the Planning Commission in January, said the plan calls for four thin towers "punctuating" the vast and chaotic intersection where Market, Van Ness, and South Van Ness converge.

Billovits said the idea is to create a vibrant mixed-use 24-hour district at what will eventually be the terminus of the rapid bus transit planned for Van Ness. A variety of street improvements are also planned to allow better pedestrian access at one of the most dangerous pedestrian intersections in the city.

"It's an area we recognize needs a lot of help," he said.

He said increasing density and providing groundfloor retail on the four corners, would be "a way of closing the intersection up and creating a place that becomes more livable and desirable."

jkdineen@bizjournals.com / (415) 288-4971

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/12/18/story13.html?t=printable

Dec 18, 2006, 6:04 AM
I'm looking forward to seeing a design for a "green" hospital (even if it won't be by Foster + Partners):

UCSF selects finalists to design Mission Bay hospital
San Francisco Business Times - December 15, 2006
by Chris Rauber

HOK and Anshen + Allen have been selected as finalists to design UCSF Medical Center's proposed $1.3 billion Mission Bay hospital complex.

A field of nine architecture firms, reportedly including SmithGroup, SOM, NBBJ, Foster + Partners, Jonathan Bailey Associates, Ellerbe Becket and KMD, among others, has been narrowed to those two. The winning candidate to head the massive design and planning project will be picked by February, according to UCSF Medical Center spokeswoman Carol Hyman, after a recommendation from an advisory panel is made to CEO Mark Laret in late January.

UCSF officials wouldn't comment on the also-rans, but did confirm that HOK and Anshen + Allen were the two finalists. Anshen + Allen's bid was submitted in conjunction with William McDonough + Partners. William McDonough's firm, one of the country's leading green architects, opened a San Francisco office on Post Street in September.

"This is one of the largest architectural commissions in Northern California right now," said an industry insider familiar with the situation, noting that UCSF is looking for a design that meets various green specifications. "It's a big deal."

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/12/18/newscolumn3.html?t=printable

Dec 18, 2006, 8:40 AM
Here's the BizTimes article. I'm surprised nobody has had anything to say about this. I'm frankly ecstatic that the ugly little 2-story snack bar and parking lot that has underdeveloped this important corner for decades could "soon" be history and arguably San Francisco's most important intersection (or at least the intersection of its 2 widest streets) will begin to be developed as it deserves to be.

LOVE this news. Van Ness/Market intersection has so much potential, with an underground station, 18 billion bus and rail lines running through it, and freeway/101 traffic intersecting with Market Street, and several arts/entertainment options but the buildings and environment give off such a doom/gloom feeling.

Dec 18, 2006, 9:30 AM
glad to see that that awful donut/crack shop will not be a permanent fixture.

Dec 18, 2006, 6:54 PM
International competition staged in S.F.
to build new downtown transit terminal
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Monday, December 18, 2006

Quite a procession of big-name architects, engineers and developers turned up in San Francisco over the past couple of weeks to size up what's being hailed as the city's biggest development sweepstakes ever -- a new downtown transit terminal, coupled with an 80-story skyscraper.

If built, the high-rise would eclipse by least 150 feet the 853-foot-tall Transamerica Pyramid and could become the dominant feature of San Francisco's skyline.

"The current skyline is very flat, and needs some peaks to create a more distinctive look,'' city Planning Director Dean Macris said.

Such is the prize sought by the more than 200 participants, representing 120 firms worldwide, who attended a pair of prebid conferences at the Herbst Theater over the past two weeks.

Among those showing interest was renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, whose plan for a slender, twisting, 160-story tower in Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan is undergoing final review.

The big question here is whether San Francisco can create enough demand to fill an 80-story high-rise -- one that would have a hotel, condos and offices to help cover the costs of the adjoining $1 billion transit terminal, serving Muni, AC Transit and the like.

Macris is hopeful, noting that commercial rents are rebounding strongly -- one big reason so many potential bidders showed up.

"They still see San Francisco growth opportunities,'' he said.

Then again, the last time the city had a major international competition -- back in 1988 for a planned Market Street tower that was supposed to spur the Yerba Buena Center development -- the project never took off.

One unknown this time: Another $1 billion would be needed to bring high-speed rail service to the terminal, and funding for that isn't likely anytime soon, if ever.

Finalists will be picked by a Transbay Joint Powers Authority panel Feb. 15, with designs due Aug. 10 and the selection of a winner just 15 days later.

Dec 18, 2006, 7:37 PM
Speaking of Transbay. . .


Dec 18, 2006, 9:07 PM
ooh la la.

Dec 18, 2006, 11:28 PM
Sexy render.

Dec 19, 2006, 1:58 AM
that is purdy!

Dec 21, 2006, 12:41 AM
that is a hot pic. that site is so unsuspecting right now, boy is that going to change

One Rincon Hill already looks really imposing as you drive by.

Dec 22, 2006, 12:53 AM
I really hate Berkeley sometimes.

Cal to postpone athletic training center plans
- Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006

(12-21) 14:32 PST -- In response to three lawsuits filed by Berkeley officials, homeowners and oak tree advocates, UC Berkeley agreed today to postpone at least until January plans to build an athletic training center next to Memorial Stadium.

The three groups of plaintiffs had hearings scheduled this morning asking the Alameda County Superior Court to impose temporary restraining orders on the project, which they say is unsafe because of its proximity to the Hayward Fault.

But UC agreed to delay the project until January, when the plaintiffs will ask for an injunction at another round of hearings, said campus spokeswoman Marie Felde. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in early December.

An injunction would delay construction for months or even years, said Stephan Volker, an attorney representing the California Oak Foundation and a group of activists who have been sitting in the threatened oak trees since Dec. 2.

"We're thrilled. We couldn't be more pleased," Volker said. "But it'll be a long haul to obtain an ultimate court victory in this case."

E-mail Carolyn Jones at carolynjones@sfchronicle.com.

URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/12/21/BAGQRN3VGK12.DTL

Dec 22, 2006, 9:54 AM
what ever happened to that proposed 800 footer in oakland? did that fall apart?

Dec 26, 2006, 12:29 AM
Well it looks like Adobe is laying the ground work to expand in SJ again.:cheers:
This land is currently a few of the parking lots south of the Shark Tank right next to the Caltrain Station.

SJW sells San Jose parcels to Adobe Systems for $32.5M

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - December 19, 2006
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SJW Corp. said late Monday that the SJW Land Co., its wholly owned subsidiary, sold two parcels of about 2.2 acres and 4.5 acres of properties in San Jose to Adobe Systems Inc. for $32.5 million.

San Jose-based SJW (NYSE:SJW) said it recognized an after-tax gain on the sale of about $14.9 million, or 80 cents a share.

SJW Land Co. said earlier it entered into agreements -- one in April and one in November -- for San Jose-based Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) to purchase the properties.

In April, the software maker --- which has its current, nearly 1 million square foot headquarters less than a half-mile away from the SJW site -- said it intended to expand its headquarters on the new property.

The parcel at 374 West Santa Clara St. includes the historic San Jose Water Co. building and is entitled for nearly a million square feet of office space.

The SJW headquarters building, constructed in 1934, is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is a San Jose City Landmark. Adobe said any development plan would keep the exterior of the historic building intact. Under terms of the agreements, SJW has the option to lease the building and designated parking until June 2008.

In October 2005, SJW had secured entitlements for the property it is now selling for 1 million square feet of offices, 325 high-rise condominiums and at least 65,000 square feet of retail.
Adobe now occupies about 950,000 square feet of office space in its San Jose headquarters complex. Located at Park Avenue and Almaden Boulevard, the three-office-tower complex houses about 2,300 employees with total capacity for more than 2,800 employees.

Dec 26, 2006, 11:48 PM
Another new project for San Francisco. This is Supervisor Aaron Peskin's response in the San Francisco Bay Guardian to the proposed project in Chinatown.

City College's latest abomination
Our very own City College is now proposing a 17-story, 238-foot glass monstrosity at the corner of Kearny and Washington streets.

Battles to preserve the unique character of San Francisco's neighborhoods are nothing new. Indeed, most of the current crop of supervisors were elected in large part as a reaction to east-side development battles that raged during the first dot-com boom a half dozen years ago.

In the northeast corner of San Francisco, I have long been part of the struggle to preserve the character of some of the city's oldest, most historic neighborhoods against the onslaught of incompatible development.

Decades ago, as downtown was expanding northward, gobbling up thriving, diverse communities and destroying dozens of historic buildings, community activists won a monumental zoning battle by drawing a bright line down Washington Street. On one side is the massive Downtown Business District, where the Transamerica Pyramid sits. On the other side are the human-scale neighborhoods of Chinatown, North Beach, and Jackson Square, San Francisco's first historic district.

We have fought hard to maintain this barrier against the Manhattanization of our neighborhoods. In the late 1990s I joined with neighbors to successfully prevent the destruction of the landmark Colombo Building at the gateway from downtown into these historic neighborhoods. So when more than 200 neighbors showed up at a recent public meeting to protest the threat of yet another high-rise encroachment, I certainly took notice. Who was it this time? Not a private developer but our very own City College is now proposing a 17-story, 238-foot glass monstrosity at the corner of Kearny and Washington streets. And the college is arguing that, as a state agency, it can ignore San Francisco planning and zoning codes.

As the city's Chinatown Area Plan states, the proposed site, which is located diagonally opposite Portsmouth Square, one of the city's most heavily used parks, is not an appropriate setting for tall buildings. Seventy-five percent of the structures in Chinatown are three stories or less in height. The permitted height of buildings at this site is 65 feet. In addition, the proposed building would overshadow Portsmouth Square and likely condemn it to significant shading.

While I support a new campus for the Chinatown–North Beach area, City College administrators have failed to reach out to the community — and now they appear to be jamming through their latest proposal, ignoring objections from their neighbors and simultaneously committing millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to the project well before the completion of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Plans for the site were hurriedly submitted for environmental review in September without prior community input or consideration of alternatives such as a combination of smaller buildings or a location of adjunct campuses in underserved areas of the city — the Richmond, the Sunset, or Visitacion Valley. Moreover, the college's construction bureaucracy apparently tried to stifle public comment by providing little notice and scheduling the only environmental scoping hearing immediately after Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, just a week after that meeting the college's Board of Trustees approved a $122 million budget for the project, which can only be interpreted as a clear sign that they have already made their decision regardless of what impacts are identified in the EIR. And perhaps, most ominously, administrators may be pushing to make the project a fait accompli before newly elected Sierra Club leader John Rizzo is inaugurated.

It's time for City College to listen to its neighbors and go back to the drawing board.

Aaron Peskin is president of the Board of Supervisors.


Since this was posted at the Bay Guardian, you know i had to post a response:

This project sounds reasonable, and I don't see why there's a controversy. Supervisor Peskin and previous posters mention that the project is "out of character" with Chinatown and North Beach. What Aaron Peskin fails to mention is that this proposed project is directly next to the existing 15 story International Hotel and across the street from the 30 story, 384' Hyatt Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn). He makes it seem as if this building will be rising from a bunch of low-rise structures. In fact, this project will help the transition of the Financial District to the low-rise North Beach neighborhood.

And, unless the Earth dramatically shifts on its axis, there is no way that this project will shade Portsmouth Square. The project will sit on the northeast side side of Kearny and Washington. Portsmouth Square sits on the southwestern side of the intersection. Since we're in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun's rays (and shadows) go from south to north. It would be physically impossible for this project to shade Portsmouth Square.

I'm all for a public process, but with the "facts" put foward by the project's opponents, it certainly makes their argument look flimsy. I say let this project move foward. A college campus or a tall building won't destory a neighborhood. In fact, its students, faculty, and staff will further enrich the community.

Dec 27, 2006, 3:31 AM
A very fuzzy render from the city college web site:

Dec 31, 2006, 5:48 PM
A very fuzzy render from the city college web site:

that's very nice.

Dec 31, 2006, 11:11 PM
I agree, it is a suprisingly nice design.

That part of town needs a little refresher anyway.

Dec 31, 2006, 11:13 PM
And well written response FourOneFive.

Jan 4, 2007, 6:23 PM

Trinity deal hits a snag
Some supervisors want more units at a rate below market

Robert Selna, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, January 4, 2007

When 82-year-old Angelo Sangiacomo peers out the large windows of his penthouse offices above Market Street, he can survey a vast real estate empire amassed through decades of investing in apartment buildings.

But just a few steps from Sangiacomo's office near the corner of Eighth and Market streets, is Trinity Plaza -- a notable blemish on his record of profits and growth.

The converted motel with 360 rent-controlled apartments occupies a piece of land that Sangiacomo and others say is suitable for a bigger, grander residential development.

Earlier this year, Sangiacomo believed he had finally struck a political deal to end 20 years of opposition from politicians and tenants advocates over the fate of Trinity Plaza and its mostly lower-income occupants.

In exchange for the city allowing him to construct three towers that would be taller and larger than what is permitted in the mid-Market neighborhood, Sangiacomo would not only set aside 12 percent of the project to be leased at below-market rates, but also permit current occupants of Trinity Plaza to remain, without paying more, in apartments that would continue to be covered by the city's rent-control law.

But as the agreement comes back before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors early this year for what were expected to be routine approvals, a deal once celebrated by both the developer and tenants in a city with a continuing affordable-housing shortage now appears to be in trouble.

"This is agony," Sangiacomo said in a recent interview, using an expletive to describe unspecified officials now arguing that the city is not demanding enough affordable housing from of one of San Francisco's wealthiest landlords. "What can you do with them? They're beyond reproach. They should be building a bronze statute out on that corner for me -- instead they want more."

Sangiacomo is called the father of rent control in San Francisco because his steep rent increases in the 1970s helped inspire a public response to protect tenants. Property records indicate that Sangiacomo and his numerous business entities own hundreds of properties in California, the bulk of which are in Sonoma and San Francisco.

Under city rent control, the San Francisco Rent Board sets the allowable annual rent increases at apartment buildings constructed before 1979, the year the law went into effect. When an apartment covered by rent control is vacated, the landlord can raise the rent to whatever the market will bear, but future yearly increases are again set by the Rent Board -- typically lower than market rates -- until the apartment is once again vacated.

Sangiacomo bought Trinity Plaza, a former Del Webb's Townhouse motor lodge, in 1977 and converted it to apartments.

His original plan, to raze the former motel and develop the property, has consistently been thwarted by officials and tenant advocates because a rebuilt Trinity Plaza wouldn't be covered by the city's rent-control laws.

Through talks with Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes Trinity Plaza, and who had stood in the way of demolition of the old Trinity Plaza building, Sangiacomo thought he had resolved that issue in late 2004, by agreeing to a unique arrangement: The 360 rent-controlled apartments would be replaced by the same number of brand new units to be grandfathered in under the rent control law, ensuring that current Trinity Plaza tenants would have low rents for life.

Also, as required of developers of all new residential projects at the time, 12 percent of the new non-rent-control units would be made available at lower-than-market rates.

Another benefit to the city, according to some observers, was that Sangiacomo said he'd rent all of the new units as apartments rather than offer some for sale as condominiums -- a rare scenario in San Francisco, where rental housing for people who can't afford down payments is at a premium in part because developers typically earn a higher rate of return on condominiums.

For Sangiacomo, the deal made good business sense, allowing him to build a large, mostly market-rate housing development on land that had sat underutilized for decades.

In August of 2006, the city Planning Commission signed off on the deal -- agreeing to let Sangiacomo add 500 units to the project, bringing the total to 1,900 units. Twelve percent, or 185 of the non-rent-control units, would still be rented at more affordable below-market rates. When completed, the apartments would house more than 3,000 tenants.

Daly, the former advocate for affordable housing who was running for re-election as supervisor earlier this year, hailed the agreement as a political win for all involved.

But on Nov. 7, to the surprise of Sangiacomo and Daly, two members of the Board of Supervisors, Jake McGoldrick and Sophie Maxwell, succeeded in persuading some of their board colleagues, at least temporarily, to block height and density amendments to the city's general zoning and development plan that would have allowed the project to go forward.

They said they needed more time to study the Trinity Plaza proposal, and both have tried to get a better deal out of Sangiacomo.

"They're (Sangiacomo) asking for an extraordinary, unheard-of level of density," said McGoldrick. "I say, 'Fine, take it, but give us more units that are below market rate.' ... If they can't do more, then maybe they shouldn't be getting more density."

Part of what emboldened McGoldrick and Maxwell to ask for more is that the week before the Planning Commission signed off on the deal, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation amending the city's so-called Inclusionary-housing law, raising to 15 percent the share of units in new developments that must be leased or sold at below-market rates.

Daly and others who have worked behind the scenes to help broker the deal with Sangiacomo have made it clear that they are frustrated by what they consider 11th-hour interloping by McGoldrick and Maxwell, which threatens to interfere with what they believe is a good bargain for the city.

Daly said he is fully prepared on his own to ensure that Sangiacomo meets the higher 15 percent affordable-housing standard without help from McGoldrick and Maxwell.

"They'll agree to the 15 percent," Daly said of Sangiacomo. "I don't need to hear that from them."

But Sangiacomo, who said that he would lose money on the rent-controlled tenants and that he has already spent millions on environmental studies, consultants and other issues related to Trinity Plaza, said he is on the verge of giving up on his plans for Trinity Plaza.

"I've learned that sometimes the best deals are the ones you walk away from," Sangiacomo said. "I've had it ... I'm trying to do something good for the city and keeping my word, and they're making it impossible to do anything."

Kate White, Bay Area Director of the Urban Land Institute, a developer group, said if Sangiacomo does walk away, it would amount to a lost opportunity for the city to get some much-needed new rental housing.

White said the critics' push for more affordable units is reasonable, given how big the project would be. The rent-controlled units do not represent long-term affordable housing because they revert to market rate when vacated, she said.

"This is such a huge increase in density at a great location; it will be very profitable, assuming that it ever gets built," White said. "It could be a fabulous thing for the city and for that mid-Market area."

Ken Werner, chairman of the Trinity Plaza Tenants Association, said he believes the new apartments will be built despite the current problems. He said the agreement in which Sangiacomo pledged to preserve the rent-controlled units was the first time in San Francisco that a tenants association and a landlord worked together to find such a solution.

"I think Mr. Sangiacomo will continue to work with us," said Werner, 58, who has lived at Trinity Plaza for more than 13 years. "We need rental housing in this city. ... This agreement will protect rent-controlled apartments and increase the stock of rental housing in San Francisco."

E-mail Robert Selna at rselna@sfchronicle.com.

Jan 7, 2007, 10:59 PM
In Friday's Biz Times, there's a piece about the developer of 524 Howard St. dusting off the plans and taking a "hard look at the first half of 2007."

Jan 11, 2007, 6:08 PM
On Fifield Co.'s website, they mention that the Californian on Rincon Hill will begin construction in March 2007.

I have also read that both 340 Fremont and 45 Lansing are expected to open by 2009, implying an imminent groundbreaking.

Does anyone know any details about these?

Jan 12, 2007, 9:03 AM
Developers dust off plans to build SoMa office tower
San Francisco Business Times - January 5, 2007
by J.K. Dineen and Ryan Tate
A stealth contender among the next crop of downtown San Francisco office buildings, 524 Howard St. seemed to have fallen off the map.

But perhaps not for long, according to developer Higgins Development Partners, which owns the parcel along with financial partner Pritzker Realty.

A 23-story building designed by HellerManus, 524 Howard St. was approved in 2000 and put on ice after the tech boom soured. On a mid-block site between First and Second streets, the project will include 202,000 square feet of office space. Swinerton is the contractor.

With rents rising rapidly in the south financial district, it's time to dust off the plans, said Nader Shah, senior VP of Higgins Development Partners.

"We believe the market has come back and we'll be taking a hard look at it in the first half of 2007," he said.

Higgins, based in Chicago, developed the 820,000-square-foot Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale and the Hyatt Center, a 47-story tower in Chicago.

The building at 524 Howard St. would be its first project in San Francisco.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2007/01/08/newscolumn1.html?t=printable

Jan 12, 2007, 11:51 PM
This article can be the start of some great things :cool:

Google invades San Francisco, grabs Gap office space
San Francisco Business Times - 9:58 AM PST Fridayby J.K. Dineen
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Search engine giant Google has agreed to lease 210,000 square feet at San Francisco's Hills Plaza, a deal that could potentially draw more than 800 of the high-flying company's workers to the South of Market waterfront.

Under the terms of the blockbuster agreement, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) would sublease three lower floors at 345 Spear St. from Gap Inc. for about $35 a square foot.

In establishing a beachhead in San Francisco, Google would instantly become the cornerstone of an downtown economic recovery that has been largely driven by technology companies. In the past 12 months, Google rivals Microsoft and Yahoo have expanded in the city, and 125 other firms, a mix of so-called web 2.0 startups and battle-scarred dot-com survivors, have filled more than 1.5 million square feet. The massive Google deal will only increase the velocity of the tech explosion and, just five years after the dot-com crash, is a testament to the strength of the market.

A three-year deal
The sublease on the second, third, and fourth floors at 345 Spear, worth about $21 million over three years, would expire in 2010. The relatively short commitment is meant to give Google an immediate foothold in the city while allowing it the flexibility to explore long-term opportunities, including becoming an anchor tenant in one of several new office buildings slated to sprout up in the south financial district and Mission Bay over the next few years.

A real estate source familiar with Google's needs said the company's long-term San Francisco requirement may be closer to 300,000 square feet, the amount of office space it recently took on at 811 Eighth Ave. in Manhattan's meatpacking district.

While the deal was confirmed by six sources with knowledge of the negotiations, spokesmen for the Gap and Google declined to comment.

The sublease is being hammered out directly between the Gap and Google, which is being represented by Cornish & Carey Commercial. Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Wes Powell, who leases Hills Plaza for owner Morgan Stanley, declined to comment because the landlord is not involved in the deal. Powell said he recently brought the building up to 100 percent occupancy and called it "a world class asset." The space Google will be occupying, which features 70,000 square foot floorplates and bay views, was largely occupied by workers from Gap's Old Navy division, who recently moved to Mission Bay.

The 3.2-acre Hills complex comprises two buildings: the modern 16-story 345 Spear St. and the seven-story 2 Harrison St, the landmark brick Hills Brothers Coffee Plant. In addition to the Gap, tenants at the two-building complex include Gensler, Babcock & Brown, and Sharper Image, which has its headquarters there.

Representatives for two other buildings Google was considering -- 303 Second St. and 650 Townsend St. -- have been told that the company has agreed to terms elsewhere.

Ties that bind
Google already has deep ties to San Francisco. Hundreds of employees live in the city, including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who socialize with Mayor Gavin Newsom. More than 500 of these employees are carted off to Mountain View each morning in free Google shuttles. On Jan. 8, Newsom announced a long-anticipated deal where Google would provide free wireless Internet access throughout the city at relatively low transmission speeds, while EarthLink charges $21.95 month for a premium version of the service.

The Mountain View-based company employs 9,400 and is hiring 1,300, including 690 at its headquarters and 132 in New York City, according to the company's web site. Since the company went public in August 2004, 900 employees have become millionaires by cashing in stock options. Google receives 3,000 job applications a week.

"We spend so much time in San Francisco focusing on what is wrong, let's take a moment to feel good about some things we're doing right, that are making this city a great place to live and to work," said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the urban think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. "Google isn't being lured by tax breaks. They are coming because it makes sense to them as a business decision on its own, which is very gratifying."

San Francisco Center for Economic Development Director Dennis Conaghan said the deal would "further strengthen the importance of San Francisco as a place for cutting edge technology" and lure other users looking to be near Google.

"There is the shopping center effect," he said. "When you have a major anchor like Google, other people follow, or at a minimum they take a serious look. Lucas has had that impact in the Presidio."

Colin Yasukochi, Grubb and Ellis director of research, said the sublease will also put Google in close proximity to dozens of web 2.0 startups that could both feed talent to Google and be candidates for acquisition. He described the deal as a "foothold" and said he expects a larger commitment down the road.

"If they really want to make a splash here in San Francisco, they will be willing to spend some money on real estate," he said.

Heading downtown
The move into the city may also signal an increasing desire to move closer to the transit-rich urban centers. After looking at a deal to put 1,000 workers in Bellevue, Wash., Google has reportedly dropped that idea and has shifted focus to downtown Seattle.

"I think you're seeing a shift where these companies want to be closer to the fun -- the restaurants, the bars, and the ballparks," said Jeffrey Lyons, chairman and CEO of Kidder Mathews, the largest brokerage in Washington state, which recently opened an office in San Francisco.

In Seattle, Google is in the backyard of Microsoft, its biggest rival for talent. In San Francisco, Google may also been motivated by the fact that Microsoft recently became the anchor office tenant in the $460 million Westfield Shopping Centre.

"Google is growing so fast that the question becomes where are you going to get the best employees," said Lyons. "It's very costly and very difficult to transport employees. So if you have a concentration of well-trained employees, you take the company to the workforce."

At a Citigroup-sponsored global technology conference last year, Alan Eustace, Google's vice president of engineering, suggested the company is focused on creating a more geographically diverse workforce.

"Can you build global products with a workforce that is only in Mountain View, California?" Eustace asked. "The answer is, no you can't. The technical talent that we need to solve the next generation of problems in search does not all live in Mountain View, California."

Metcalf said Google's intent to have a city campus is the latest example that the Bay Area economy is increasingly regional.

"It shows the continued merging of the South Bay and San Francisco economies," he said. "I think the pattern we're seeing is that big companies are not deciding where to locate as a whole, but where to locate individual pieces so they are able to attract top talent in cities all over the planet."

jkdineen@bizjournals.com / (415) 288-4971