From this week's San Francisco Business Times
Condo tower ready to soar
After four years, group to start work on 58-story project
Construction of San Francisco's tallest residential building is set to begin in September.
Towering above neighboring developments and redefining the city's skyline, the Millennium Tower at 301 Mission St. will pack 420 condos into a building extending 645 feet in the sky -- an engineering feat that also makes the building the city's fourth highest.
Demolition of vacant buildings and other site work begins Aug. 1.
New York-based Millennium Partners, which also created the nearby Four Seasons Hotel and Residences and the Metreon, is developing the $400 million project. It was designed by Handel Architects of New York and is being built by Webcor Builders of San Mateo. Financing was arranged and led by HSBC Group and Bank of America.
"It's a structural science project once you get up that high," said Sean Jeffries, a principal with Millennium Partners. "We've been working on this for four years and can't wait to get it officially commenced."
Demolition at the one-acre parcel bounded by Fremont and Beale streets begins Aug. 1, with Webcor crews clearing three vacant buildings from the site. Official groundbreaking is slated for September with construction expected to finish in late 2008 or 2009.
Shuttering earlier plans to include hotel and office space, the development will be all condos -- one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 700 square feet to 6,000 square feet.
Millennium Partners is still determining the pricing as well as the availability of the units. Although Millennium intends to sell the units, principals are reserving the right to also rent some, depending on market conditions.
Indeed, the Bay Area's overheated housing market could cool considerably in the next three or four years, particularly in San Francisco.
Nearly 30,000 units are in the city's project pipeline now, with nearly two dozen multi-family residential projects already under construction.
Of those units, some 1,500 -- all located in Mission Bay and developed by the likes of Bosa, Signature Properties, Avalon Bay, Urban Housing Group and IntraCorp -- will be coming to market with similar upscale residences in 2007.
Tishman Speyer's high rise at 300 Spear Street -- a $450 million development standing as high as 450 feet -- will also be completing construction in 2007, with 656 upscale condos hitting the market in October.
Jeffries said Millennium is continuing to monitor the market's appetite and for now, thinks it will remain as voracious as it has for the past few years.
Case in point?
Centurion Real Estate Partners, which purchased the Beacon ealier this year, has sold 286 of the 304 units in the west tower since March. The group will begin marketing the 304 units in the east tower in September (renters still occupy most of them, and have been given notice), but has already sold 50.
"It appears that the more that's being constructed and the more people you bring downtown ,the more there's a demand for it," Jeffries said. "It's feeding on itself."
And with and 11-story tower and a 58-story tower, the Millennium project will be quite a mouthful.
The development will reach 645 feet at its peak, making it the fourth tallest building in the city following the Transamerica Pyramid and the Bank of America building, which reach 853 feet and 779 feet respectively. It will be the tallest building constructed since California Center, which stands at 695 feet, was completed in 1986.
Lizette Wilson covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.