875 California Site

The proposed seven-story building to rise on the prominent southeast corner of California and Powell has been rendered in place, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and BDE Architecture and finished in granite, stucco, stone and bronze.

A surface parking lot for 16 cars since 1970, plans for a 100-unit building to rise up to 26 stories in height on the 770 Powell Street parcel were drawn in 1974 but subsequently abandoned.

The current proposal for the site, which includes the adjacent garage parcel at 875 California Street, will yield a total of 44 market rate condos over parking for 48 cars and 86 bikes.

875 California Rendering 2016 - California

The original plans for a circular drive and drop-off on the corner have been nixed in favor of a gated court, rendered above with the gates wide open.

And if approved next week as expected recommended by Planning, the Nob Hill Garage will be razed, the two parcels will be merged, and Grosvenor Americas will push forward with the development.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by sassySFboy

    Great structural look, great Nob Hill view! Build it.

  2. Posted by alberto rossi

    Yay for nixing the circular drive and drop off.

  3. Posted by Futurist

    You know, I’m generally not a big fan of the work by Stern, but I understand the historic context, and “traditional” character of this neighborhood.

    In this case, the detailing seems subtle and understated, classic, restrained, traditional fenestration and appealing light color of the façade. I think it works here and would be a good addition to this very prominent corner.

    • Posted by AnonAnon

      Must be the sunny weather we’re having. Are you wearing Topsiders with no socks and a pink polo with the collar flipped up today?

      • Posted by Futurist

        Ah, no. Wouldn’t be caught dead in that getup. More like my typical black jeans, black t shirt and boots, while I ponder the importance of understanding a more “conservative” architecture, that fits well for a particular place, and at the same time, continuing my admiration for International style pure modernism.

        • Posted by soccermom

          Are they special boots for backpedaling?

          • Posted by Serge

            Oh I see what you did there!

          • Posted by Futurist

            For you, yes. for others who understand architectural criticism and the reality of fitting buildings into very sensitive sites, no.

          • Posted by woolie

            Sensitve sites = 1%ers nearby

    • Posted by Orland

      As I suspected, it seems like the materials and finish will result in a much more attractive and interesting building than the initial poor quality renderings portend.

    • Posted by Frank C.

      Let’s see your portfolio. Your pontification and tone certainly implies significant accomplishment.

      • Posted by Futurist

        Mr Frank. It’s not going to happen as much as you whine on and on. What I do or what I did as an architect is not relevant to the discussions here. You need to understand that.

        And if you find architectural criticism with a certain EARNED level of intelligence and experience to be annoying to you, then perhaps you need to spend time reading about it. Try Architectural Record, Architect among two well respected professional magazines that deal with this subject.

        • Posted by what

          I’m glad to see you’ve given yourself an A+, now if everyone else would just agree damn it.

        • Posted by Frank C.

          Love to see you in those 1991-hot-fashion black jeans, too. And I’m straight!

          And calling me a whiner, oh mercy. I love tweaking you. You’re the most pompous, pedantic NIMBY I’ve ever seen on this site.

          • Posted by Futurist

            But Frank, why are you so obsessed with what I say? Does it really matter that much to you that I speak an authentic architectural language?

            I’m sorry you don’t understand it.

          • Posted by Frank C.

            Entertainment. I love calling out self-absorption and pretentiousness when I have a few moments.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Well, I thank you for paying attention to me and what I have to say. Much appreciated.

          • Posted by soccermom

            Bravo, Futurist! That might be the most honest thing anyone has ever written on an internet forum.

  4. Posted by BobN

    What’s the little structure at the corner, the one with the pointy roof? Is it some MUNI thing?

    • Posted by Jackson

      “This accounts for the little signal house at the intersection Powell and California. The signal house man shines a green light if the intersection is clear of cars and a red one if another cable car is approaching it. This way both operators know if they have clear passage, thus avoiding obvious problems.”

      From CableCarMuseum.org

  5. Posted by Tank_Hill

    Maybe one more story?

  6. Posted by Serge

    Can all developers please hire Stern? Pretty please? Look how well this respects the neighborhood and is pleasing to the eye. It has a nice art deco feel to it (especially the parapet); I reckon that in 20 year’s time this will still look okay. Unlike much of the dreck that’s been churned out over the course of the past decade which looks dated a year after completion. Then again, the 60s and 70s did much more damage to SF’s architecture (a la Richmond District Specials).

    • Posted by tm

      stern’s buildings in nyc are commanding $5K per sqaure foot. This might be a good deal here.

    • Posted by jlasf

      Robert Stern is the Ralph Lauren of architecture. He is very skillful at tastefully cribbing the work of earlier architects. Usually, this turns out quite well. Sometimes not, as we can see in the Gap Building on the Embarcadero. It’s a clear miss. A lame attempt to echo the Ferry Building with no architecture; merit of its own. It is better than the dreck that is usually built – I am looking at you, Intercontinental Hotel – but disappointing from an A List architect.

      • Posted by Serge

        That seems like a good interpretation. Although the Gap HQ on the Embarcadero is not terrible. Yes they tried to play off the clock tower at the Ferry Building, but the overall look seems to have survived the test of time (albeit just 15 years). It is reminiscent of the brick warehouses at the Northeast Waterfront district and does a good job at mimicking the warehouses.

  7. Posted by Justin

    Where are the no parking screamers? I always notice that if the development is for the wealthy, nobody seems to mind a minimum of one parking space per unit, but if it is for a slightly less wealthy buyer, the finger waggers demand that parking spaces be reduced, especially in “transit rich” neighborhoods like this.

    I am FOR allowing builders to provide off street parking to both the rich, middle and low income residents, but why is there such a double standard shown by those who feel they should have a say in restricting parking?

    Do the anti off street parking screamers feel parking should not be allowed or reduced ONLY for lower and middle income projects as some sort of punishment for people who work and struggle to keep financially stable?

    • Posted by Alai

      Ok, fine: it should have less parking. And I approve of the elimination of the unnecessary driveway.

      But I am not nearly as opposed to builders voluntarily building more parking as I am to the city forbidding new housing construction unless it is accompanied by expensive parking garages. And that’s a practice that significantly reduces the amount of lower-cost housing that is built, particularly lower-cost market rate housing.

      Your framing of the issue as a “punishment” for people with less money is bizarre. If someone expresses a wish that more housing is built that doesn’t feature wine cellars, 24-hour doormen and two bathrooms for every bedroom, would you accuse them of punishing poor people by denying them these luxuries?

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Justin – Location, not social status or wealth is the factor here.

  8. Posted by Landru

    The three little set-in balconies on the 6th floor are awful and signal a gloomy dark room behind each of them.

  9. Posted by woolie

    It’s a nice structure, if too short. I appreciate the restrained traditional style, but not sure why it takes a tip tier architect. Make a style book of old buildings, anything that’a a copy gets a design review exception.

    • Posted by what

      Maybe we should do the same for art, literature and technology too.

      That is a scarey statement you just made.

      • Posted by woolie

        No one dies if a building is unattractive. Architecture is overrated.

        • Posted by what

          It’s just the environment that we (city dwellers) live our lives in.

          • Posted by woolie

            New York City has no design review. Somehow, life goes on.

    • Posted by Futurist

      There actually is a “style” book of old buildings. It’s called “A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method”, by Sir Banister Fletcher, published in 1896.

      It’s essentially the bible of every authentic architectural style, form and detailing from every major period from Egyptian to the International Style of Modernism. Pretty amazing book of 1366 pages.

  10. Posted by hgh

    Closer to what the city needs but they could have gone a notch more classical, especially with the windows that look very 80’s condo’ish, and are intended to appeal to those looking for more traditional.

  11. Posted by redseca2

    This vacant lot and the one on the northwest corner of Kearny & Pine have been the mystery vacant lots as long as I have lived in San Francisco. It is good to see both will soon be in construction.

    • Posted by Orland

      Nails it!

      Actually, they’re well along with construction of the building abutting St. Mary’s Square.

  12. Posted by NOPASF

    We have an affordable parking crisis in this city! I am sick of greedy developers ruining our parking lots with condos for the 1%. Where will the working class and homeless park? We need to fight to preserve our city’s character!

    • Posted by Brian M

      The circling….the endless circling as I try to find a place to park my Chevy Suburban! That alone will cause Traffic Armageddon in the heart of the City!

  13. Posted by mdg399

    looks nice – good design in character for the area – now add 10 floors and build it

    • Posted by Willow

      No thanks. We don’t need another t**rd like One Rincon Hill/The Harrison, or whatever it’s called these days… Appropriate size, parking & albeit conservative styling.

  14. Posted by alberto rossi

    Are there any other art deco buildings on Nob Hill that this one is echoing?

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