SOM Cathedral Hill Tower Drawing
The Skidmore, Owings and Merrill design for a proposed 38-story and 300 unit condominium development across from St. Mary’s Cathedral has been unveiled (7.4MB pdf). The glass-walled oval tower would replace the current Cathedral Hill Plaza Athletic Club swimming pool and tennis courts (the swimming pool would be moved underground; the tennis courts, not so much) and would include five floors of below grade parking (one space per unit).
All 300 units in the tower are proposed to be market rate with the developers looking to fulfill their BMR quota offsite (within a mile). And the development would also include an education/community center at the corner of Gough and Geary and adjoining ground level commercial space.
In terms of a timeline, expect at least a year for planning and permitting (we’d guess quite a bit more) and then another two for actual construction. And yes, this is the building a reader was asking about last week (near the end of the comments). And no, we couldn’t find a better rendering drawing rendering. [Editor’s Note: Tough (and yet plugged-in) crowd. We love you all.]
38-Story Oval Condo Tower Unveiled (7.4MB pdf) [New Fillmore]
Who Are These “People” And What The Heck Are They Thinking? [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Invented

    The building is fine and timeless; would like to see some housing treatment @ street level (townhouse pods or such) to help make Cathedral Hill more walkable — city should zone for street level housing or retail to offset the barren walls which exist throughout CH which add to the speeding transit corridor feel to this area. It has every potential to be a better area between Van Ness + J-Town but not without better pedestrian zoning requirements. Build it!

  2. Posted by Mark

    We’ll see if this gets passed since there are going to be many in the neighborhood who will be concerned with the shadows it creates and the increased traffic and the affect on other’s views from their own condos. Personally, I think it will be a great addition to Cathedral Hill and a compliment to the other buildings on the hill.

  3. Posted by Miles

    2+ years has been a more typical approval time for a development of this size, depending on if they need any variances or conditional use permits (which they usually do for high rise properties). And then of course, a single disgruntled neighbor can add 6-12 months to this process by protesting the approvals for whatever reason. Also, it’s interesting that they find it more feasible to place the affordable housing off-site too – but I bet they can find a fairly inexpensive site in the Western Addition. One of the things that was kind of overlooked in last year’s change of the Inclusionary Housing regulations was that the way the selling price of each affordable unit is calculated was changed. Before it was based on the HUD mean income figures which also include the higher income Marin and San Mateo counties. Now it is based on just the San Francisco mean income (which is lower than the previous HUD figure) so that the final selling price of affordable units will also be lower now.

  4. Posted by curmudgeon

    I personally think it’s a good deal to put the affordable component off-site, because the resulting units will probably have much lower hoa fees. Plus there’s probably more chance of building larger (like 3 br units) in stick built lowrises/midrises.
    Currently, if a bmr is in a very high end development, the lucky bmr homebuyer gets a steal on the price, but is stuck paying a high monthly hoa that could severely strain their budget (if they really truly are moderate income folks which I won’t even get into here).
    The flip side of course is out of site is out of mind, and you KNOW the market rate condos project will be well maintained for everyone. It’s a bigger gamble with a separate bmr development that over time maintainance will slack off.

  5. Posted by 3D-Honeycomb

    I don’t think that is a 3D rendering at all, Computer renderings don’t look like that, it’s designed before the computer my guess — now check the difference, with a number of cylinders making a tower, look close ;

  6. Posted by Morgan

    This is a wonderful copy of the Larry Flynt building at Wilshire and La Cienaga in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills. (aka “Flynt Tower”) At least this is a rather classic modern design without the candy stripes some developers seem to desire.

  7. Posted by realist-sf

    unatractive , monolithic design –
    very expensive to build – in mid priced area
    tall for area
    out of town developer
    long shadows
    long shot to happen anytime soon.

  8. Posted by sfDweller

    the drawing shown IS a computer rendering – it is a very bad black and white copy of a copy of a color rendering. the sponsor showed other, much more flattering and detailed renderings at the public meeting they had a while back.
    this ‘out of town’ developer has built more housing in san francisco than most local developers, if their spokesperson at the meetings is to be believed.

  9. Posted by Joe

    All real San Franciscans hate anything new.

  10. Posted by realist-sf checker

    Question for ya, realist-sf:
    How is this “tall for the area”?
    Is it not within two blocks of several EXTREMELY tall towers?

  11. Posted by Mark

    Whatever they build there needs to be tall and slender and beautiful. It will stand out like as an eye sore if it’s not done right because there are no other taller buildings to compete with it. Think of how ugly the grey rectangular Hilton hotel (I think it’s a Hilton) building looks where Untion Square and the Tenderloin meet. I hate that building. On the other hand, the 1920s Hastings Law building looks beautiful standing there on its own.

  12. Posted by Ron

    How far out to Geary does that project? The picture makes it look like it goes right out the the street.
    My main concern is that it appears be long, in an axis 90 deg. to the 2 buildings on either side, creating a wall effect. Doesn’t look very attractive, either. butt ugly, actually.
    Who desgined the new deYoung? i’d love for them to put something in.

  13. Posted by SFOrange

    Cathedral Hill and west toward Japantown seems a wide open and appropriate area for highrise residential. Any other project like this approved or proposed?
    What about Japantown (with new owners)…that place should be leveled and rebuilt with 4/5 towers.

  14. Posted by Invented

    “What about Japantown (with new owners)…that place should be leveled and rebuilt with 4/5 towers.”
    A good part of Japantown is a wasteland and a huge loss to the city – but it doesn’t need to be. I would raze the two malls (admittedly dark, damp and ultimately a depressing experience) & redesign them with 6-10 levels of housing above — built w/authentic materials & in Japanese design. Condos, senior housing, small studios are all possibilities — especially in his transit-rich location.
    The bottom level retail would be street facing –in-facing mall experience sucks all the life indoors when it should be facing outdoors.
    If only the contiguous Redevelopment sites would connect w/Japantown — the area would start to become a vibrant treasure of design and history.
    J-Town has unlimited potential; it’s pivotal location btwn Upper Fillmore/West Addition, Cathedral Van Ness, gives it every chance to be a vibrant, living, authentic and meaningful historic community — not just an archive of an impression –but not without aggressive up-zoning/design and vision.

  15. Posted by curmudgeon

    I believe that the planning department is starting an abbrieviated planning process (meaning, hopefully, only about a year..and not 5) for Japantown. Since the mall has new, non-Japanese owners who want to do something with the project, getting some upzoning in is crucial to allow some higher density projects to be developed.
    A critical issue is, of course, how to keep what’s good and charming and culturally important about the physically awful Japantown Mall….while recognizing that Japantown itself is on it’s demographic last legs as a place where japanese american people actually live.

  16. Posted by avg joe

    “A good part of Japantown is a wasteland and a huge loss to the city”
    You might as well make that statement about the presidio or the palace of fine arts. If the idea is to pack as much in as possible you are correct. Pacific Heights is a wasteland by that definition. In my opinion too much development will destroy any culture Japan town has left. This is not emeryville. Yes the the mall is due for some stylized modernization, but “wasteland” discredits the entire area and the businesses that reside there.

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