535 Mission Street Massing
While some celebrate the news that construction on the 378 foot tower to rise at 535 Mission Street will soon recommence, others wonder if the developers aren’t selling themselves and San Francisco short as the site is zoned for 550 Feet.
As massed above for SocketSite by steelblue, proposed and approved developments abound in the Transit Center District (“Mid-Market” ends at Fifth), with height limits recently raised to meet the growing demand for space and fund development of the area:



At 378 feet, 535 Mission will be dwarfed by the towers of 50 First Street on just the other side of Mission which are proposed to reach over 800 feet. Across City Park from 535 Mission, a 750 tower is now zoned to rise. And of course, the 1,070 foot Transbay Tower is just down the street at 101 First and Mission.
In the foreground above, the 700 foot tower at 181 Fremont rises amongst others.
Modern 27-Story Mission Street Tower Set For A Quick Restart [SocketSite]
More Mid-Market Development And Definition [SocketSite]
Planning’s Towering Transit Center District Plan Decision: Approved [SocketSite]
A Trio Of Renzo Piano SOM Towers At 50 First Street As Proposed [SocketSite]
Proposed 1,070-Foot Transbay Tower Approved To Rise [SocketSite]
Latest SF Skyscraper Scoop: 181 Fremont Redesigned And Rendered [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by david m

    two things. from the development team’s perspective, the agony and delays of going back through the process to get the modifications would put this one behind several other competing projects. from the urbanist’s perspective, the less a-level office space in the fidi the better the new projects pencil, so that any new floors for 535 reduce the viability of new construction in soma/south fidi- which is bad.

  2. Posted by Turin

    Given the pilings are already set and many of the materials bought, I can understand the developer not wanting to start over on design, engineering, permitting, etc. It’s too bad this wasn’t made a 400′ plot and another 550′ site was added somewhere else.
    In principle though, I agree it would have been nice if this was taller. it’s a shame that what could be one of the most interesting and beautiful office towers in the city will also be one of the shorter ones. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  3. Posted by sf

    Yeah turning a parking lot into a 35 story tower is such a loss of progress.

  4. Posted by Bi-Cyclist

    I can just hardly wait to relax and savor the wide open spaces of this glorious “old growth redwood grove” of skyscrapers. I bet moss will grow really nicely in the cool shadows of these manmade canyons!

  5. Posted by Adam

    I would agree mainly because this is where the towers need to go if people don’t want “redwood groves” all over town. The growth is happening, and the best way to manage it is to concentrate it. At the same time, if the foundation is in it might not make financial sense to go back and redo that work, c’est la vie.

  6. Posted by BobN

    Every tall, tall tower is equivalent to several blocks of “suburban office park” in SOMA. I say go up, up, up!!
    Unless you’ve built your foundations, of course.

  7. Posted by JL

    350 Mission is also zoned to 550′ or 700′ but will only rise 375′ or 400′.
    I’d rather see this tower go up now than have them spend another 2 years redesigning and getting it re-approved just in time for the next downturn to halt construction again.

  8. Posted by lmnop

    This is a relatively small site. Besides the delay associated with getting an approval for a taller building, it may be uneconomical. As buildings go taller, elevator cores, exit stairs etc. get bigger and the ratio of usable space to core doesn’t pencil. It is a pretty common dilemma in downtown sf.

  9. Posted by Shanghai resident

    To all readers who think that tall and high- density buildings are good, you need to live in Shanghai for one week. It’ll be your punishment.
    Shanghai residents have no input as to what the communist party does. San Francisco residents should not allow developers to turn San Francisco to another Shanghai.

  10. Posted by anon

    ^Yes. Because the only difference between SF and Shanghai are the number of tall buildings.
    lol.

  11. Posted by Old Mission Neighbor

    I don’t think anyone in SF has ever said “Let’s make this city more like Shanghai!”
    Now, Chicago and NYC…that’s another matter. And frankly, the citizens of those cities tend not to b*tch much about their high-density city centers. Or if they do, it’s usually tongue-in-cheek and only semi-serious.

  12. Posted by Anon

    Comparing SF to Chicago is a joke. A stale, boring, joke, perpetuated by the internet only creeps who populate this “Internet person” website. 2/3 of Chicago is awful.

  13. Posted by derp

    Shanghai is problematic because it simply isn’t walkable. The tall buildings have little to do with this. In fact, they’ve probably mitigated the issue considerably.

  14. Posted by Sam

    There might be a lot of boring Chicago parts, but a good majority of the Western part of SF is equally boring. All that good land just being used for low density identical homes in a perfect grid with only a few commercial corridors.
    It’ll be a great day when tall buildings move there.

  15. Posted by 94123

    @Editor, why would the comment by “anon” at 11:36pm be acceptable? Calling someone a “creep” for bringing up NYC and Chicago, only shows that “Anon” is a creep, and not “Old Mission Neighbor” and that “Anon” has a real chip on their shoulder regarding those two cities.
    I acutally think it is entirely proper to question whether or NYC or Chicago model would be appropriate or desirable for a city like San Francisco. San Francisco is unique, and should NOT model itself after either larger city, and instead look to examples from middle sized European cities.

  16. Posted by yao

    SF could learn a thing or two from shanghai’s public transit system.

  17. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    Fret not, 94123, once you’ve spent a little more time here you’ll learn to ignore ‘Anon’ as we all have.

  18. Posted by cbf

    “I acutally think it is entirely proper to question whether or NYC or Chicago model would be appropriate or desirable for a city like San Francisco. San Francisco is unique, and should NOT model itself after either larger city, and instead look to examples from middle sized European cities.”
    First off, no one is following a NYC or Chicago “model” for San Francisco, that’s all in your head. And those cities are unique too, just like SF is. Furthermore, SF is a large american city, so why should it model itself after a medium-sized European one? Besides, if SF were in Europe it would be considered one of the largest cities on the continent…not a
    “medium-sized” city (you do know that metropolitan areas are what counts when measuring city sizes, not city-limits, right?). Also, you do know that nowadays many European cities have lots of high rises too, and are building them all the time? So if SF were acting like your typical large European city, there would still be tons of high-rises going up.
    You sound like another one of those people who for some reason think SF is a quaint European fishing village or some crap. It’s not, SF is a big city with no more land to expand, and a ton of people who want to live here. The only place to build is up, and if you want to keep SF city-proper from becoming a museum-city that is even more insanely expensive than it already is, than you should support high rise development. I’m not saying we should build highrises in Bernal Heights, or Noe valley, or the Sunset, but we have lots of room to add more in the core of the city, in and around downtown: SOMA, Mission Bay, Civic center, Van Ness, etc. Maybe one day we’ll get some stretching down Geary as well (haha, yeah right). It would be very possible to build many new high rises in areas like these, while still retaining the vast majority of the historical building stock and character of the neighborhoods in question…and the rest of the city would be untouched. To pass up opportunities to densify SF in those areas would be extremely short-sighted.

  19. Posted by guest

    Becoming like Shanghai’s skyline sounds pretty badass
    e.g., http://assets.inhabitat.com/files/shangh-lead2.jpg
    Also, Chicago’s downtown core > SF downtown’s core

  20. Posted by Sam

    Frankly I think that after SOMA the city should allow high rises in the Sunset and Richmond districts. Maybe the Mission makes more sense as it has better transit, but Richmond is practically begging for it.

  21. Posted by Frank

    @guest
    What building is that tall wavy one? It’s remarkable looking, I can’t picture SF ever being at that level of architecture.

  22. Posted by Turin

    It’s the Shanghai tower and is currently under construction. It was designed by Gensler’s SF office.

  23. Posted by guest

    Sam,
    Richmond is too far out and already built up. They should start demolishing some of the abandoned or underused buildings in North Beach and replace them with high-rises–not too high, just 10-20 stories.
    Also, plans for Hunter’s Point call for high-rises. I think it should have many more. It’s in a potentially scenic, relatively flat area. I could see dozens of high-rises in that area long-term

  24. Posted by Sam

    Richmond is only too far out if you consider that all of SF resolves around a certain point. In reality it doesn’t.
    If we ever get a decent transit option for Geary I think there is no excuse not to tear buildings down and build it up.

  25. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    It’s fairly easy to compare SF to Europe. The counterpart is Amsterdam. City of ~800K population on a very comparable area. The surrounding region is referred to as Randstad and has a population just over 7M, the same as the Bay Area. The driving distance from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is exactly the same as from SF to San Jose.
    Amsterdam’s city centre is very dense but it doesn’t have high-rises, obviously because of its historical character and the narrow canal-lining streets which aren’t conducive. However, there are plenty of high-rises in other parts of the city. Rotterdam was bombed during WWII so its historical core is gone and that city is more modern with plenty of high-rises.
    I don’t know exactly what we should learn from this. If SOMA looked anything like Amsterdam’s old city I wouldn’t support projects like 535 Mission but that’s not the case, is it? We’re not talking about razing entire blocks of Russian Hill to build this, it’s parking lots and ugly mid-century warehouses that give way.
    As for the density discussion, public transit is and will be the bottleneck. What the NIMBYs don’t seem to understand is that more office space downtown means more commuter traffic in their neighborhoods and if they continue to obstruct things like light-rail they’ll just have more diesel buses and more cars circling the blocks looking for street parking.

  26. Posted by PortlandBound?

    Just curious, WHY must all the jobs be centered here? The roads and transit are over stretched already. I could personally care less if SF or LA had the tallest tower west of Chicago . Let San Jose have the towers, I would rather take our city with a skyline that is unremarkable, but our neighborhoods , restaurants and shops are remarkable. I am not convinced having a taller skyline makes a better city. Having SF become a city of corporate headquarters towers makes me understand why so many have moved to Portland.

  27. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I agree PortlandBound. There are about a dozen sites around the core Bay Area that are ripe for upzoning which either already have good transit or are poised to accommodate it. This is all infill development that can accommodate rising populations without unsustainable sprawl.
    SF should continue to grow up but so should its neighbors.

  28. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    I believe Milkshake brought this up first, but it bears repeating…here goes again:
    San Jose can’t have the towers because of the proximity to and location of the mineta international airport. The approx. 22-story buildings going through planning now are about the upper limit.
    It would be more efficient if San Francisco had more jobs located locally because people want to live here: in economic terms, there’s lots of raw unmet demand. Witness all the people who live in S.F. and take daily shuttles to jobs located on the San Mateo peninsula and points south.

  29. Posted by Chris

    First off, anyone who wants to move to Portland, Tokyo, Des Moines, etc., just stop whining (and posting) just pick up and move now and SF will better without you!
    Second, those griping about shadows, square buildings, etc. Stop smoking crack, this area has some crappy 70′s buildings, EMPTY LOTS, a few newer towers (and hopefully more to come), and then filthy sidewalks with homeless mentally ill people sprawled out on them and pee and poop. There is NOTHING worthwhile to preserve and only the new towers are nice. As for the old crap and empty lots, ANYTHING would be an improvement. The new buildings are gold compared to what is there now. So, take your NIMBY anti-development whining and leave town.
    Finally, I’m glad Jerry Brown is pushing to limit CEQA and I hope there is a parallel move to limit red tape and prevent obstructionism at the local level. Too many crazy people have too much input!.

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