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  #61  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 7:31 AM
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Originally Posted by don116 View Post
All the problems you're listing can be overcome and have been easily solved in other buildings around the world.
Recently? In the United States? Examples please of buildings in the US constructed since 2001 with observation decks.

The rest of the world doesn't count. They don't have our litigious legal system or our approach to the issue of terrorism.

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More excuses. The same could have been said about the Shard in London, One WTC, Empire State Building, Willis Tower...the list goes on. SF planners and developers love to find reasons not to do something and make no effort to work around it.
I'm sorry but the Empire State or Willis were built in another era--the Stone Age as far as the issues I mentioned are concerned. One WTC is a rather unique icon that was built to unique and uniquely uneconomic design standards as a statement. The lower floors were massively reinforced against truck bombs as happened to the old WTC in the 1990s. And the top floors were leased to Cantor-Fitzgerald for who knows what rate, again as perhaps a statement since they occupied the top floors of the former WTC (not to mention that Windows on the World, the sort of thing you are wanting, is also a relic of the former WTC and whether it continues to survive in this era remains to be seen).

This isn't about SF planners. I'm sure they'd love to have "public open space" on the top floor of one of these towers. The problem is the economies and liabilities of doing it impose too many problems on buildng owners, managers and occupants, and what do they get out of it? A slight enhancement to the building's reputation perhaps but I doubt that translates into much of an enhancement to per square foot rents or selling prices which are what matters to them.

The bottom line is that you are arguing they should do it because you so much want them to but there is precious little reason to induce them beyond, perhaps, pleasing a handful of skyscraper fans.

Last edited by Pedestrian; Jan 16, 2017 at 7:46 AM.
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  #62  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 8:31 AM
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Originally Posted by don116 View Post
More excuses. The same could have been said about the Shard in London, One WTC, Empire State Building, Willis Tower...the list goes on. SF planners and developers love to find reasons not to do something and make no effort to work around it.
The 'excuses' are that the developer will lose millions of dollars by doing this. Its a pretty compelling reason.
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  #63  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 9:09 AM
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Just as an aside note, Oceanwide Center will have a Private Terrace on Level 62 of the taller tower. There will be one on the top floor of the shorter tower as well. They will be open space observation decks, but they won't open to the public. See page 400 and 401 of the following link:

http://commissions.sfplanning.org/cp...06.1523PRJ.pdf

I don't yet know if Parcel F will have anything similar.

Last edited by SFView; Jan 16, 2017 at 9:22 AM.
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  #64  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 6:39 PM
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^^Building top spaces or decks that are NOT open to the public seem pretty common. 181 Fremont will have its resident amenities about ⅔ the way up which I think will have plenty of glass for viewing. The 100 Van Ness conversion has a roof-top deck for residents. One Rincon Hill Tower 2 has a "sky lounge" and so on.
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  #65  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 7:17 PM
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The 'excuses' are that the developer will lose millions of dollars by doing this. Its a pretty compelling reason.
The owners of 555 California didn't opt to install a public observatory either, even though the elevator system to handle it from the lower level is in place. The express ride up to the former Carnelian Room on the 52nd floor was thrilling on the fastest elevators in the West.
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  #66  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 10:35 PM
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As my handle suggests, I'm a huge proponent of a SF observatory. I've been to the top of the now extinct Carnelian Room and the former observatory on the top of the Embarcadero Center some years back. If SF had an observatory smack dab in the middle of the action downtown at the top of a bonafide supertall, I fully believe it would be a success. Of all the international cities, San Francisco has the most titillating views by far. Where there's the will, there's a way. Perhaps not now, but maybe in subsequent boom cycles...
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  #67  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2017, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by observatory View Post
As my handle suggests, I'm a huge proponent of a SF observatory. I've been to the top of the now extinct Carnelian Room and the former observatory on the top of the Embarcadero Center some years back. If SF had an observatory smack dab in the middle of the action downtown at the top of a bonafide supertall, I fully believe it would be a success. Of all the international cities, San Francisco has the most titillating views by far. Where there's the will, there's a way. Perhaps not now, but maybe in subsequent boom cycles...
If they include a 700-800 ft tower in the Market st Hub plan that could also have amazing views of downtown, Bay Bridge, and the GG Bridge. Maybe thats when we'll have our observatory.

I just don't understand it when civilians echo the opinions of commercial developers who have an interest in making sure the top floors are reserved for condos/CEO's offices. If people don't advocate for public benefits...who will?
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  #68  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2017, 12:36 AM
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Transamerica had an observation deck and was closed after 9/11.

The naysayers are right- security and terrorism are the top priority in today's America.

I suggest going for a ride in the glass elevator of the Westin Hotel. The view and the "animation" of the skyline rising and lowering in front of you is incredible.
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  #69  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2017, 4:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Pedestrian View Post
Recently? In the United States? Examples please of buildings in the US constructed since 2001 with observation decks.
The underconstruction 30 HY and 1 Vanderbilt towers in NY will also have observation decks.
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  #70  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2017, 7:55 AM
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Originally Posted by observatory View Post
As my handle suggests, I'm a huge proponent of a SF observatory. I've been to the top of the now extinct Carnelian Room and the former observatory on the top of the Embarcadero Center some years back. If SF had an observatory smack dab in the middle of the action downtown at the top of a bonafide supertall, I fully believe it would be a success. Of all the international cities, San Francisco has the most titillating views by far. Where there's the will, there's a way. Perhaps not now, but maybe in subsequent boom cycles...
Define "success". I don't doubt lots of people would trek up there to see the view, but do you mean to argue they could monetize its popularity to the point of paying for the costs of installing it and maintaining it with features that wouldn't adversely impact building tenants or owner liability? The closure of places like the Carnelian Room, a restaurant atop the Westin St. Francis Tower, the observation deck atop Embaracadero Center and so on argues otherwise. Those place were closed for a reason, almost certainly economic.

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Originally Posted by don116 View Post
I just don't understand it when civilians echo the opinions of commercial developers who have an interest in making sure the top floors are reserved for condos/CEO's offices. If people don't advocate for public benefits...who will?
I suppose what I don't understand is why you think the likely popularity of such a feature matters at all to owners and developers. They are obligated in San Francisco to provide "public open space" and public art, but there is no requirement it be at the top of a structure and, in fact, there's a good argument to be made that open space at the base of a building, that doesn't require entering the structure or taking an elevator ride, is more usable by the general public, especially if it has abundant sunshine as the space at the base of, for example, the Salesforce Tower will. I suppose you could advocate to the Planning Commission that building top space be considered a plus when reviewing downtown towers but they've never so far taken that view and I don't think you'd carry the day. These days maintaining control over who comes and goes in these buildings for security's sake is a high priority, maybe second to economic considerations and I've no reason to think the Planning Dept.doesn't understand that as well.

Last edited by Pedestrian; Jan 17, 2017 at 8:06 AM.
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  #71  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2017, 8:52 PM
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Originally posted by Pedestrian: Define "success". I don't doubt lots of people would trek up there to see the view, but do you mean to argue they could monetize its popularity to the point of paying for the costs of installing it and maintaining it with features that wouldn't adversely impact building tenants or owner liability? The closure of places like the Carnelian Room, a restaurant atop the Westin St. Francis Tower, the observation deck atop Embaracadero Center and so on argues otherwise. Those place were closed for a reason, almost certainly economic.




I define "success" as a money-making endeavor as opposed to a money-losing one. San Francisco has NEVER had a world-class observatory at the top of a true supertall structure downtown. If it did, I believe it would be swamped like those in New York, Chicago, and LA (yes, the new observatory at the top of US Bank (old Library) Tower is a hit. The closure of those places you listed do not meet the qualities I mentioned above.
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  #72  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2017, 8:56 PM
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^^I don't think the fact they are "swamped" means they make money when all factors including the costs to create them are considered. I conceded they would be popular with the public including me. I am certain if they made money and were not seen as a security threat, buildings like Embarcadero Center, the TransAmerica or the (former) Bank of America would have them.
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  #73  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2017, 8:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Pedestrian View Post
^^I don't think the fact they are "swamped" means they make money when all factors including the costs to create them are considered. I conceded they would be popular with the public.
I think it would be profitable if there was one.

Last edited by observatory; Jan 17, 2017 at 9:14 PM.
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  #74  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2017, 2:41 AM
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San Francisco has NEVER had a world-class observatory at the top of a true supertall structure downtown. If it did, I believe it would be swamped like those in New York, Chicago, and LA (yes, the new observatory at the top of US Bank (old Library) Tower is a hit. The closure of those places you listed do not meet the qualities I mentioned above.
That's because we've NEVER had a supertall structure downtown until now, when we will have ONE.
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  #75  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2017, 5:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Pedestrian View Post
^^I don't think the fact they are "swamped" means they make money when all factors including the costs to create them are considered. I conceded they would be popular with the public including me. I am certain if they made money and were not seen as a security threat, buildings like Embarcadero Center, the TransAmerica or the (former) Bank of America would have them.
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The cramped observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors are startlingly profitable, especially during the holiday season, when tourists swarm the city.

The decks attract four million visitors a year and generated $60 million in profits in 2010, while the owners made little if any money on the office space, according to newly disclosed documents that offer a rare glimpse at the building’s balance sheet.

The financial results at the Empire State Building illustrate how observatories, once considered a modest sideline and a pleasant diversion, have become big business for owners seeking to wring every dollar out of office towers around the world.

Top of the Rock, the observatory at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, reopened six years ago after a long dormancy and now pulls in 2.5 million visitors a year and a $25 million profit, according to real estate executives who have been briefed on the project.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/ny...g-profits.html
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  #76  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2017, 6:06 AM
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It's been brought up in past threads, but all the views from the hills here make building observatories less popular.
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  #77  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2017, 6:54 AM
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The cramped observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors are startlingly profitable, especially during the holiday season, when tourists swarm the city.

The decks attract four million visitors a year and generated $60 million in profits in 2010, while the owners made little if any money on the office space, according to newly disclosed documents that offer a rare glimpse at the building’s balance sheet.

The financial results at the Empire State Building illustrate how observatories, once considered a modest sideline and a pleasant diversion, have become big business for owners seeking to wring every dollar out of office towers around the world.

Top of the Rock, the observatory at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, reopened six years ago after a long dormancy and now pulls in 2.5 million visitors a year and a $25 million profit, according to real estate executives who have been briefed on the project.
Look, I think we've beaten this to death but I clearly said the cost including additional costs to create the spaces, not just to operate them (which is pretty minimal). The 2 buildings you mention are over 70 years old--the Empire State once had an airship docking port too. And the NYT article is written from a document intended to sell the building and taking a positive perspective to its features.

I've been to the observation deck at the Empire State and, as I recall, it has at least one dedicated elevator (maybe more than one; maybe originally to carry airship passengers). This either detracts from access to rented floors by diminshing the elevators servicing paying tenants or it adds to costs and cuts income by enlarging the building core for dedicated elevators.

The article you quoted says "Five high-speed express elevators are expected to whisk five million visitors a year to a three-level observatory on Floors 100 through 102 (of WTC1). I wonder if the Salesforce Tower or Oceanwide Center will have 5 elevators total (probably but not many more than that). And WTC1 is a unique, world famous (thanks to 9/11) building in a city with a much larger number of visitors than San Francisco.

It's all in the accounting. What you and the article seem to be counting is mostly cash flow not counting additional building costs and loss of rentable space (if you think otherwise, show me the actual accounting numbers). But the bottom line is that if there were money to be made by the building owners, you can bet at least one building in San Francisco would have one. These people are in business to make money--they are not ALL going to pass on a profit center if decks here could be one. And recall that we have had several--all closed for a reason. It just doesn't seem to work here. None of us know enough to entirely understand why. But it doesn't whether it's primarily the security issue, the money or something else.

I'm done and bored. We'll get a deck one day or we won't. I don't think we will.

Last edited by Pedestrian; Jan 18, 2017 at 7:16 AM.
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  #78  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2017, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by edwards View Post
It's been brought up in past threads, but all the views from the hills here make building observatories less popular.
Maybe the next coming super tall will have it?

SF has relatively good tourism numbers, and decks will sell. Any time an observation deck opens up, and one that is marketed aggressively, it overtime becomes another part of a tourists to-do list. Kinda how tourists in NY all hit up the ESB, WTC, Top of the Rock, and soon to be 30 Hudson and Vanderbilt. The key is marketing. Along with the hills, city lovers will always flock to get new vantage points.

A deck in a way is passive income for the owner(s) of a tower. Most of the income will be front rents, but so long as the deck is not the sole purpose of the tower, its not a financial burden to have one. Kinda have to factor the space used for a deck (lets say 1 floor) vs how much income is brought in compared to how much income they could get if they leased it. Given the tourism numbers, I think the risk is pretty low for a loss.
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  #79  
Old Posted Jan 18, 2017, 6:47 PM
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Because the limiter is the increased space needed for extra elevator shafts, it is very easy to see why it hasn't happened. The towers that have gone up have very small footprints. This means there is not very much square footage per floor, compared to something like 1WTC or the Empire State Bldg. which are both massive. This means two extra elevator shafts, larger & restricted for tourist groups, could indeed require 4-5% of every floor's rentable space. Giving up that much of each floor is crazy, with office rents being so high in SF. This isn't even considering the fact that the penthouse office floor is the potentially biggest profit maker for the building. A smaller footprint also means less space on the obs. deck for potential tourists.

Look at how small these footprints are, Oceanwide Center doesn't even have space for interior elevators. SF Tower is the only one that could realistically have had an observation deck, had its main tenant not opted to take the penthouse. If a building is allowed to be built with a large footprint then it will be easier and more profitable to build an observation deck in the future, but skinny towers are bad for that model.

Prop M contributes to this problem by making building office space in SF more restrictive, and therefore more profitable for those who do get large buildings through, and thus more attractive than a tourist vista.

Last edited by fimiak; Jan 18, 2017 at 7:19 PM.
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  #80  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2017, 1:11 AM
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Socketsite has an update and new renderings:

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The proposed 64-story tower to rise at 550 Howard Street, on Transbay Parcel F, would reach a height of 806 feet as proposed, making it the fourth tallest tower in San Francisco, behind the Salesforce/Transbay Tower, the future Oceanwide tower at 50 First Street, and San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid building.

As designed by Pelli Clark Pelli with HKS for the “F4” development team, 200 condos would be spread across the top 27 floors of the 550 Howard Street tower, with 16 floors (287,000 square feet) of office space and a 250-room hotel below.
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