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With San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure having determined that “economic conditions create a strong preference for commercial development over residential and hotel development” on Transbay Block 5, a request for proposals to build a 550-foot office tower with ground floor retail on the northeast corner of Howard and Beale has been issued.

Originally slated for a residential tower to rise up to 550 feet on the eastern portion of the block at the corner of Howard and Main, as we first noted yesterday, “unforeseen circumstances” have resulted in an unexpected configuration for the site and tower to rise.

The story behind the unforeseen circumstances which involves the driveway for 201 Mission Street (which runs through the middle of the block), the little Art Deco structure and open space on the corner of Howard and Beale (which is owned by 301 Howard across the street) and, of course, a concern about a potential loss of views:

The [Transbay Joint Powers Authority] attempted to negotiate an acquisition of the 201 Mission Street driveway in order to develop the site according to the standard configuration in the Development Controls – with the tower on the eastern portion of the block at the corner of Main and Howard Streets. However, the property owner expressed strong concerns that tenant views in 201 Mission Street would be negatively impacted by a tower on the eastern portion of Block 5 and demanded a price far in excess of the standard market value of the driveway parcel.

In addition, the driveway parcel provides the only access to 201 Mission Street’s parking and loading and therefore it would not be possible to develop the driveway without also negotiating a land swap with TJPA to provide alternate access. As a result, OCII does not expect the property owner of 201 Mission Street to submit a proposal in response to this RFP – and if that property owner did submit a proposal, it would need to conform to all of the restrictions described in this section.

Because of the time spent negotiating an acquisition of the 201 Mission Street driveway and the need to issue the RFP, neither OCII nor TJPA has had discussions with the owner of 301 Howard Street regarding its parcel.

That being said, while a proposal which includes either the parcel owned by 201 Mission Street or the parcel owned by 301 Howard Street will not be considered, once a development team is selected, the OCII is open to exploring alternatives for the open space on the corner of Howard and Beale, “in cooperation with the property owner.” Proposals are due at the end of June.

An upside to the unforeseen circumstances, a 10,000-square-foot open space on the corner of Howard and Main is now part of the Block 5 plan as well.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by BTinSF

    People keep referring to the “little art deco structure” or “little art deco hot dog stand”. It is, in fact, the remnant of a “little art deco gas station” which has been landmarked I believe. Back in the 1990’s the central and most classically Deco portion of the gas station was preserved and rather cleverly (I thought) reused as a hot dog stand. It’s a nice feature of the area for this hot dog lover.

  2. Posted by spencer

    i love that block design. very cool

  3. Posted by Gordon

    Great article, but I don’t understand why the problem acquiring the driveway parcel makes this tower more suitable for commercial use than residential?

  4. Posted by dp

    What about the potential for constructing a loop track to/from the Transbay Transit Center? Doesn’t the development of this parcel preclude that option?

  5. Posted by Turin

    Gordon: I read it that those are coincidental, not cause and effect. Economic factors drove the decision to make it commercial, while site restrictions are driving the configuration. That was my take, anyway.

  6. Posted by Sierrajeff

    By far a sub-optimal solution. Is there no condemnation authority? – a private party’s demand for compensation “far in excess of the standard market value” should hardly be a criterion for stalling development activities. Why can’t the 201 Mission driveway be (easily!) reconfigured to run NE to Main? If anything, I think it’d be preferable from the City’s perspective to reduce curb cuts on [Howard].
    And is the sliver on the east side really going to be green open space, or will it must remain a parking lot (as it is now)? (If it does become green space, if anything that reinforces the need to relocate the 201 Mission drive to Main – otherwise you have a linear “park” bounded on one side by Main and another by a private driveway – leaving it not easily accessible to the occupants of the new tower that’s to be constructed.

  7. Posted by Louis

    For sf where there are no huge floor plates this is a very good office building envelope. Floor plates are big enough, stacking and set backs work sell enough
    Could be leased to single floor or multi floor tenants. Tech users have already accepted there are no huge floor plates in new hi rises here after foundry square.
    All the other stuff,hot dog stand , what about resi , is not very relevant.
    This should sell for way over 100 per far square foot for land value. If I could own and develop this or 1st mission I would take this all day long.

  8. Posted by SocketSite

    What about the potential for constructing a loop track to/from the Transbay Transit Center? Doesn’t the development of this parcel preclude that option?
    An underground train box will be constructed mid-block between the new tower and the existing 201 Mission Street building.

  9. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    will be constructed” ??
    Isn’t the underground train box currently being constructed? I thought that was the point of building it before the connecting tunnel: it would have been an expensive retrofit otherwise.

  10. Posted by noe mom

    That structure was a 76 station on the corner of Pacific either Jones or Leavenworth or Hyde. I can’t quite remember.

  11. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    OMG, I’ve walked by the hot dog stand many times and I’ve never paid attention to it. I have indeed known this structure from a picture in a book. This is how it looks like as a gas station at 1501 pacific.
    https://flic.kr/p/mK8D2i

  12. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    Yes, the driveway to 201 Mission is a big waste of space. It is a shame that it is not put into more productive use. It think 201 Mission has a very large lot that is only about 30% utilized.

  13. Posted by emanon

    201 Mission was designed around the then-constraints of the Beale Street on-ramp to the Embarcadero Freeway. There used to be a pedestrian bridge over Beale along the south side of the Mission/Beale intersection. That’s why the plaza and the lobby for 201 Mission are on the second floor.

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