May 17, 2007
631 Folsom: Recently Christened “SF BLŪ” (And Down To 108 Units)
As a “plugged-in” tipster notes, 631 Folsom has recently been christened “SF BLŪ” and is now down to 108 “condominium residences.” At six units per floor, and with six two-story penthouses, “BLŪ embodies a clean, simple design aesthetic in an intimate high-rise community.”
To be honest, while we’re still haven't gotten over the loss of those dual sliding glass doors, we’re still quite intrigued (and expecting prices to start around $800,000).
First Published: May 17, 2007 3:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
I wonder how many units are directly facing (and 20 feet away from) the gigantic windowless, and noisy SBC phone center (the 10-story grey building on the left side of the rendering).
Posted by: AC at May 17, 2007 8:02 AM
I am really becoming tired of buildings being named the way perfumes, shampoos, or bottled water are. Citrino, blu, etc.
Posted by: Morgan at May 17, 2007 8:23 AM
Oh, get used to it. It will be the marketing ploy du jur to try to help those units stand out from the billions of other units flooding the market in that area.
That is, until the developers throw in the towel like the developers in Washington DC did and start dropping prices to stand out. That will happen when they run out of amenities to throw in for free.
Fun to see the creativity, even if futile, while it lasts!
And hey, if the name worked for a credit card aimed to suck money out of idiot twentysomethings by making an overpriced Amex card seem hip in the year 2000, why not a building.
Oh wait, it didn't work for the credit card. Twentysomethings merely saw it as a marketing ploy being used to sell an overpriced product in a crowded space, at the end of a boom time. Hmmm, how much did the developers of this building pay their marketing consultants?
Posted by: tipster at May 17, 2007 10:36 AM
"Intimate high-rise community".
Posted by: Wnt at May 17, 2007 10:37 AM
People are complaining about this name but not all the dozens of buildings name The Thing, The Other, and The Whatever? The useless definite articles are the ones that really make my teeth grind.
Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at May 17, 2007 12:57 PM
I'd love to hear some suggestions from people as to what they might consider a more appropriate name.
Posted by: beckett at May 17, 2007 1:43 PM
How about "631 Folsom"?
In my opinion, unless the building is "The Dakota" or something of similar significance, residential buildings have no business being named.
Posted by: curmudgeon at May 17, 2007 1:49 PM
This is great example of urban infill development in a reasonable location, close to transportation, etc. Look forward to seeing the finished product, the views will likely be fantastic from many units. And until San Francisco becomes, err Oakland, people will always pay a premium to buy/rent here. Any over supply by developers will only create opportunities for buyers. Anyone that's studied the near term supply trends will tell you, there's certainly more units coming on in '07 and '08, but doubtfully enough to pose a significant risk to prices. If so, developers, investors and banks would not be underwriting these projects. Maybe we can even increase the % of buyers vs. renters in the City in a non-bubble environ.
Posted by: developer at May 17, 2007 2:10 PM
"doubtfully enough to pose a significant risk to prices. If so, developers, investors and banks would not be underwriting these projects."
Ha ha! How funny is that. Hasn't anyone noticed that the formula in the NEW real estate economy is to:
1. Buy a lot in a horrible location (e.g. 6th and Mission, somewhere out by the freeway, 15th and South Van Ness) for peanuts because of its horrible location, then
2. slap up some high rise residential building minus a whole lot of amenities (dryer vents, parking, a neighborhood, space for a dining room table), next
3. make it seem really "cool" using a name, signature cocktails, "pre-public" parties that get "leaked" to everywhere so that everyone knows about them but thinks they are the only one, and then
4. Sell them for $1000 psf or some other preposterous number.
Given that the lots are being purchased for practically nothing because of their poor locations, I think there is plenty of room for prices to fall without making the project unprofitable for the developer. Banks will continue to loan even if prices fall a great deal.
Posted by: tipster at May 17, 2007 2:54 PM
tipster, what's the problem with that? If enough are built, a neighborhood becomes nicer. Not building excessive parking creates better opportunities for transit and walking.
I don't want a ginormous dining room, parking, etc. Just a neighborhood with a lot of amenities close by and people walking the sidewalks.
Posted by: Anono at May 17, 2007 3:11 PM
tipster @ 2.54
Clearly you are greatly mis-informed. The lot at the 15th and South Van ness that you allude to, and surmise being bought for "peanuts", was actually bought for $7,100,000. I won't even waste my time responding to your other drivel.
Posted by: beckett at May 17, 2007 3:28 PM
Ain't no lots for peanuts nowhere in SF.
Besides, this actually looks like a nice building. And it's right across the street from the Fly Trap.
Posted by: Salarywoman at May 17, 2007 5:04 PM
1. Lots in horrible locations typically have fewer opponents to redevelopment. Many, including your local planners, are supportive of redevelopment in blighted areas and transportation corridors. Also, lower land cost equals more affordable units. You try and redevelop something in Presidio Heights, let me know how it goes.
2. Slapping up a high-rise building costs a minimum of $500 psf (before, finance, land, taxes, soft costs, architecture and engineering, etc.).
3. Yes, the Mark Company likes the signature cocktails, I like cocktails and am OK with this.
4. While you clearly aren't in the business enough to understand the economics, we're happy to get you up to speed, often it can take $1000 psf just to recoup your costs and eek out a profit.
5. As a consumer, vote with your wallet, I hear there's cheap dirt in Modesto.
Posted by: developer at May 17, 2007 5:18 PM
This building looks worse than Soma Grand. I really hope it's just the bad rendering and the final product turns out to be much more interesting. Not sure if you are the developer of this project, but if you are and this is the best you can do with the cost of $1000/sq.ft as you claimed (which has NEVER happened so far on any of these new high rises in sf), then you should expect little respect towards your teaching of economics.
Posted by: blahhh at May 17, 2007 6:11 PM
I like the cocktails too. Adam when are you going to throw another "plugged in" party?
2nd street is going to turn into what the planners want folsom "blvd" to become, because it is a straight shot from the Ballpark to the Financial district. It will naturally fill like crazy and is insulated by Moscone, MOMA and on the other side South Beach. I would put my chips on this street.
Posted by: Paul hwang at May 17, 2007 6:12 PM
"Often it can take $1000 psf just to recoup your costs and eek out a profit." Developer, you wouldn't be in the business if it took 1000 psf to recoup your costs. I have to say you are full of it!
Posted by: 94114 at May 17, 2007 6:12 PM
I too am a builder and $1,000 per foot for new development is not out of the realm. In the last week alone I have passed on 2 fully entitled projects. I figured that sales of $800 pr ft would not cover my costs. San Francisco is totally on the wrong track, planning wise. It is becoming inordinately difficult and expensive to build here and our planning process is just a total boondoggle. I know that many of you will scoff when I say this but I truly believe that the marker will be 50% higher in San Francisco 5 years from now.
Posted by: Beckett at May 17, 2007 6:57 PM
How did Lennar arrive at all 2BR allocation? This location argues a mix of studio, Jr1, 1BR, 1BR/den, 1BR/1.5BA, and 2BR/2BA. I'm betting the narrow lot posed some problems but there are ways around this. Placing the smaller units on the lower floors would have made a lot of sense. As it ended up, they are targeting an increasingly narrow demographic with this design.
Posted by: AnonN at May 17, 2007 7:16 PM
The unit count/configeration was changed because of the planning Dept strong arming the previous owners with respect to the number of builder subsidised units being extracted.
Posted by: beckett at May 17, 2007 7:31 PM
As a four-year owner at Hawthorne Place (diagonally located from SF Blu on Dow Place, I can say that the biggest drawback is the size/configuration of these units. Apparently you can put 2 bds/2bths in less square footage than a 1 bd/1.5 bth loft and still get folks to pay $800 psf. The developer Lennar--not known for their attention to quality-- has a lot to prove so they might just put some extra effort into this building after all. They were nice enough to add a 30 foot setback on the Dow Place side to create a courtyard to complement the one at my building and the scale is definitely a lot less bulky than we had feared. Then again, the project was delayed by at least 14 months so they probably have some carrying costs to recoup...
Posted by: Charcus at May 17, 2007 7:54 PM
That is hideous! It looks like the architect secretly wishes ill upon the builder, and so has chosen to emulate something built in the 1950s on Van Ness. And they have the nerve to refer to it has having a "design aesthetic". Ugh! It hurts! Pass the design anasthetic! SOMA Grand at least has some basic consistency to its trashiness.
Posted by: Mole Man at May 17, 2007 9:37 PM
I don't want a ginormous dining room, parking, etc. Just a neighborhood with a lot of amenities close by and people walking the sidewalks.
That's an admirable goal, but when you build places that are intended for the occasional weekend to SF from the east bay, you don't get any amenities because the business owners can't survive in a location like that and there are no people walking the streets because everyone drives everywhere.
The city planners need to wake up and realize what they are doing to that portion of the city by allowing these designs that appeal only to drive in "residents". That area of the city will never become a neighborhood as long as the designs are teeny tiny little spaces with a trophy view and no place to eat inside. It's why one rincon has no dryer vents: no one was going to do their laundry on a weekend trip to SF anyway, so why bother putting them in. But then that just ensures every business that opens there will be not last past their first lease renewal, or just be a chain store that can deal with the loss to provide greater coverage.
Posted by: tipster at May 18, 2007 6:38 AM
"I don't want a ginormous dining room, parking, etc. Just a neighborhood with a lot of amenities close by and people walking the sidewalks." (anono)
"2nd street is going to turn into what the planners want folsom "blvd" to become.." (paul huang)
I was just on 2nd Street last Friday evening, for the first time in about a year. I was pleasantly surprised by how much activity there is: the Thai restaurant was mobbed, several bars, galleries, and clubs were buzzing. There were people on the sidewalks everywhere. Lots of youngish folks, many of whom probably live in the area. It was clear that 2nd Street not only has massive promise, but is already there.
It stands to reason, as there is not only new housing nearby, but 2nd Street is also on the pedestrian path from downtown to Rincon Hill/South Beach. It is becoming a very interesting urban neighborhood. The neighborhood is clearly NOT all aged pied a terre users, despite Tipster's assertions.
Posted by: curmudgeon at May 18, 2007 8:18 AM
"It was clear that 2nd Street not only has massive promise, but is already there."
Very true about 2nd street. I've lived in the Rincon Hill area for approximately 2 years. I saw that when I first moved here, the area was a virtual ghosttown at night. So much has changed in the past 2 years, its unbelieveable. Sure, if you come from Marina, it may still look a little sleepy, but give it time, and no I'm not talking about 10-15 years. We're seeing a few clusters of streets that are becoming more bustling in the evening. 2nd street is one example of this, as is the area around the Embarcadero (between Mission and Harrison) and don't forget about Townsend street.
If I were a betting man, I'd say that this is where I'd want to be long term, as so much money is being infused into this neighborhood.
The way I look at it is that I could live over in Marina, Pac Heights, etc, and have a couple strips of bars/restaurants/stores at my doorsteps. However, I'd also have to live in an older building with less amenities (I'm not a fan personally), deal with more fog, etc. Here, I have it all and while I don't have 1 street with all the amenities of say, Chestnut, I have all of this stuff within walking distance. Also, its not like we're talking about going down to San Jose if I want to experience Chestnut or Fillmore...its like 3 miles or a short cab ride.
Posted by: SFhighrise at May 18, 2007 8:35 AM
It seems to me that one of the more manageable reasons for the increase in the cost of new construction is our very poorly run planning department. Because of the ridiculous planning delays, developers need to factor in holding costs for more than three years on these 7 Million dollar lots which translates into big dollars each year. Ultimately the cost is added back on to the buyer. You want cheaper housing, call for some reform to city planning!
Posted by: anon at May 18, 2007 11:50 AM
$7 million is an inexpensive lot. The half-block that The Infinity is going on was $50 - 51 million.
Posted by: AnonN at May 18, 2007 12:27 PM
anonN, you must compare like with like. Your analogy is akin to saying that a house at 3rd & Revere is not expensive @$3,000,000 because a mansion on the 2800 block of Broadway sold for $40,000,000.
Posted by: beckett at May 18, 2007 12:49 PM
Point well taken -- the Infinity parcel could be 3x? the size of Blu's. Lot prep for Blu should be somewhat less because it's not on fill and there's no whaling ship to excavate as found at the Infinity site. But they ended up with an enormous garage that provides for full resident access to owner vehicles 24/7/365.
What is the parking gig at Blu? Hopefully not more valet like ORH . . . .
Posted by: AnonN at May 18, 2007 5:34 PM
In respect to the Blu, I do like the location and with up to 2,700 sq. ft. for Penthouses it is sure to compete in the luxury home market. I just wish the developer added more amenities than just a door man.
Posted by: james aduna at August 5, 2007 4:04 PM