August 17, 2012

Transbay Tower's Financial Backer Has Left The Building

Transbay Tower Rendering 2012

As we reported in June:

Having successfully renegotiated the amount they’ll pay The City for the land upon which to build San Francisco's Transbay Transit Tower and Terminal from $350 million to $185 million due to declining market conditions and a shorter tower, Hines might now start construction as early as next summer based on the strength of the market.
According to the Business Times, "[u]nder the best-case schedule, which is six months more aggressive than projections Hines made in March, Transbay Tower and the adjacent 5.4-acre City Park would be completed in late 2015."

MetLife was Hines financial partner for the tower. And yes, that’s in the past tense as they are no more. Neither Hines nor the Transbay Joint Power Authority are commenting nor has a new financial partner been announced.

No word on whether or not anybody has contacted the Chinese.

Transbay Tower Timeline Moved Up, Payment To City Stays Down [SocketSite]
Transbay Land Cost Cut Another $50 Million For Shrunken Tower [SocketSite]
Yes, The Proposed Transbay Transit Tower Shrank A Hundred Feet [SocketSite]
Turning To China For Capital To Kick-Start Developments In SF [SocketSite]

First Published: August 17, 2012 8:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

By the time this whole thing is over, the whole building will be Academy of Art housing and a Food Truck terminal.

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at August 18, 2012 9:05 AM

I have never felt this design was worthy of being the tallest tower in the city so no tears from me.

Posted by: AnonArch at August 18, 2012 12:35 PM

The economy is doing much better now, projections for office demand in the area show an ongoing squeeze, and rates are still just above nothing, so this is an excellent opportunity to negotiate financing arrangements. This will probably be best for everyone.

Posted by: Mole Man at August 19, 2012 12:58 AM

Yeah, right, a big sophisticated player runs for the exits in spite of rosy real estate industry generated "projections" and it's better for everyone. LOL.

C'mon, this is exactly the situation we found ourselves in in 2007. Condo buildings offering higher commissions, check. Financing for buildings falling apart, check. Signs of a market top all around.

Posted by: tipster at August 19, 2012 9:10 AM

In this economy you'd think that there would be stiff competition to fund erection of the tallest building in SF.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 19, 2012 10:23 AM

On a second take, yeah, whoever said it first, in previous comments, is right: This does look like a colossal vibrator, so SF should "feel good" about this project. ;)

Posted by: Ugh at August 19, 2012 11:39 AM

@Ugh: Haha. Yeah, agreed. Maybe Pelli should have at least left the sharp angles on the sides of the tower. Curving them just made the building look even worse!

Posted by: Lol at August 19, 2012 12:48 PM

I wouldn't be upset if this design were KILLED.

Posted by: sf at August 19, 2012 11:05 PM

Smart move Met. I'm sure they got sick of paying Hines' fees.

Posted by: sorearm at August 20, 2012 6:10 AM

I agree the SOM version was a far superior design than the current fairly bland one. I think they picked the current design because of the rooftop park, and didn't pay any attention the building's design at all.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 20, 2012 8:46 AM

No preleasing out there. Tenant demand is still not strong enough to fill even 50% of it. Will be interesting to see which transbay building goes up first.....(First & Mission, 350 Mission, 535 Mission...)

Posted by: realist at August 20, 2012 8:52 AM

"I think they picked the current design because of the rooftop park, and didn't pay any attention the building's design at all."

The TJPA picked the current design because Hines bid twice as much as everyone else.

http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2007/09/pelli_clarke_pelli_and_hines_bid_the_most_and_get_the_n.html

Posted by: CH at August 20, 2012 8:56 AM

I'd bet it will get funded and built.

Raising capital is what I do for a living and there is a ton of cheap money out there right now. Investors like pension funds are dying to get decent returns.

Posted by: anon at August 20, 2012 9:15 AM

@CH

It was pre-coffee, so maybe not too funny, but it
was intended as a joke... I guess it's good I didn't go into comedy!

@anon

I agree, and even with the bland design (I don't hate it, just not too impressed) I'm still hoping it gets built. I just wish it had been a more iconic. I'm not a person who thinks every building needs to have a great design, but if any needs it, it's the new tallest building.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 20, 2012 10:24 AM

I'm surprised we haven't heard any followup on this, since it seems like the impact could range from a 6 month delay to the tower being scrapped altogether.

Posted by: OMN at August 20, 2012 11:40 AM

@ lyqwyd: I was at the architectural presentation and, of the approx. 60 minutes allowed, 50 minutes was spent on the park and 10 minutes on the tower. Ideally, the tallest building should be iconic; this isn't.

Posted by: jlasf at August 20, 2012 12:28 PM

As long as they can fire fireworks off of it like every other tall building around the world I'm all for it.

Posted by: joh at August 20, 2012 12:56 PM

Why should the building be "iconic"? That definition alone is subject to a wide wide variety of opinions, not fact.

Posted by: futurist at August 20, 2012 1:58 PM

In one of the previous threads, 48yo hipster wrote:

Yeah but…will this still be the tallest bldg. on the west coast? And are there any other WC city with plans to top that? (SF must maintain the biggest dick on the WC, and the dildo bldg. is the perfect instrument for that.)
Looks like it, if it indeed does get built.

The current U.S. Bank Tower in L.A., currently the tallest on the west coast, is 1,018 ft., compared to the recently-reduced height of this proposal (for the Transbay Tower) at 1,070 feet.

The Wilshire Grand Tower I is entitled to reach 1,250 feet and therefore would be tallest, but developer Korean Air and Los Angeles architect A.C. Martin Partners Inc. earlier this year scaled it back and from the looks of things that would make the completed building shorter than the existing U.S. Bank Tower. The new building is planned to open in January 2017.

Of course someone with money in hand and tenant agreements in place could probably propose, get approvals and build a new, taller building than either this or the existing U.S. Bank Tower before the Transbay Transit Tower is built if it keeps getting delayed. Maybe Seattle will come out of nowhere to take the prize.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at August 20, 2012 3:59 PM

Is this an opportunity to slide in a public viewing area from one of the top floors to help make some bucks to maintain and program Tranbay's rooftop park?

Posted by: Jamie at August 21, 2012 11:40 PM

Cool. The Richard Rodgers design was always my favorite anyway.

Posted by: Joel V at August 24, 2012 12:45 PM

Earlier in this thread, I wrote:

The Wilshire Grand Tower I is entitled to reach 1,250 feet and therefore would be tallest, but developer Korean Air and Los Angeles architect A.C. Martin Partners Inc. earlier this year scaled it back and from the looks of things that would make the completed building shorter than the existing U.S. Bank Tower. The new building is planned to open in January 2017.

They are still planning for a completion year of 2017, but from the story I read today, they are back up to a building taller than the existing 72-story U.S. Bank Tower that has held the title of tallest west of Chicago since 1989.

From the Los Angeles Times earlier today, Tallest building in the West to be built in downtown L.A.:

The long-awaited design of a $1-billion hotel and office skyscraper to be built in downtown Los Angeles — soon to be tallest building in the West — was unveiled Thursday by developer Korean Airlines.

At 73 stories, the tower at Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street will be a dramatic addition to the city skyline and a symbol of South Korea's growing status as a global economic powerhouse.

…As designed by Los Angeles architecture firm AC Martin Partners, arriving hotel guests will be whisked by high-speed elevators to the "sky lobby" on the 70th floor for check-in to one of 900 rooms…the 71st floor will be a restaurant. The floor above that will house window-washing gear and engineering equipment, clearing the top floor for an "infinity" swimming pool and recreation area.

Emphasis mine; the reason we were discussing this at all in this thread was because the Transbay Tower was planned to be the tallest building in the West.

Hopefully, even at the new, reduced height, we'll have a building that serves as a symbol of San Francisco's growing status as an economic powerhouse.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at February 7, 2013 4:01 PM

Brahma- what I like about the tower you wrote about in Los Angeles is that it is a mixed use building with hotel, residential and offices all occupying different zones. Why couldn't the Transbay be more than offices and have housing, hotel, etc.?

I appreciate that the Los Angeles tower has the roof devoted to public space with infinity pool, gardens, bar and cafe. We may not have the Los Angeles climate, but I wish more tower roofs were open to the public in San Francisco.

Posted by: TowerLover at February 7, 2013 4:30 PM

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