One Montgomery Site

Plans to add a tower atop the iconic Crocker Bank Building at 1 Montgomery Street, which now sports the Wells Fargo brand, have been drafted, the development team has met with San Francisco’s Planning Department to discuss, and the preliminary designs have been submitted to the City for review.

And while the site is currently only zoned for 250 feet in height in theory, the proposed 1 Montgomery Street tower, which is being designed by the Office of Charles F. Bloszies, would rise to a height of 500 feet, adding 33 stories atop the southwest quarter of the two-story building site.

One Montgomery Tower Massing

The bank’s original building entrance on Montgomery Street would serve as the entrance to the new tower and the existing Privately-Owned Public Open Space (POPOS) atop the bank would actually be expanded by 6,500 square feet and redesigned to include access to a café in the proposed tower.

One Montgomery Terrace Plan

And as proposed, the 1 Montgomery Street tower, for which the site would have to be re-zoned, would either become a 234-room hotel, a 52-unit condo building (with one five-bedroom unit on each of the top five floors and 47 three-bedrooms below), or a mix of the two.

UPDATE: The Brief History of One Montgomery.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by donjuan

    Very concerned about the shadows over the Montgomery BART stop. Also I don’t like tall buildings. I’ll be sure to oppose. This would make more sense in a large city like Seattle, not a humble fisherman’s village like San Francisco.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Fortunately for you this lies to the west-northwest of the BART stop … at most there would be theoretical additional shade for a few minutes in the summer, most of which would be duplicative of shade already being cast by the “current” One Montgomery Tower, at the corner of Post and Kearny.

      • Posted by donjuan

        The tall building is simply out of character with the surrounding area. Also, looks like it will bring more jobs and housing to San Francisco; two things we don’t want or need.

        • Posted by Notcom

          You realize, of course, that this argument can actually be made…absent the sarcasm I’m assuming you intend here.

    • Posted by Mark Anthony

      Seattle is NOT a large city by US standards. It is medium size with 660K pop. As SF is now reaching 900K in an area of @ 50 SQ miles and second only to Manhattan in population density. It is also the hub of 8.7 Million people in the SF bay area according to the US census. When its suburbs reach Sacramento’s in the 2020’s, it will be 11.5 million and surpass Chicago according to an article by the US census bureau. Please get your facts straight.

  2. Posted by Joe

    Interesting. The original bank building on the site was demolished down to a single floor to create the currently existing POPOS for the Crocker Galleria.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Designed by Willis Polk, constructed in 1908 and refaced in the 1960’s, the top 10 floors of the original 12-story building were removed in the early 1980’s. Two stories remain.

      • Posted by Schaetzer

        To add to the story… The developer of the Kearny Street tower wanted the #1 Montgomery Street address for the new building that would actually be on Kearny Street. If memory serves me on this, approval of the tower was conditioned on preserving the banking hall and having the public open space on the roof which is crowded daily at lunch time. The project site spanned the entire block except for the Hunter-Doolan Building (111 Sutter) and the hotel at the corner of Sutter/Kearny. The proposed project is a horrible idea IMO. If you haven’t been into that particular Wells-Fargo branch, you should. It’s where I bank and it truly is a throwback to days of the banking palaces. Nothing like BofA’s sterile shell at the corner of Mongomery and California. It’s beautiful.

        • Posted by minime

          I don’t find 555 California sterile at all, it is quite beautiful up close. More castle like rather than palace.

    • Posted by Hunter

      Wow, I always wondered why that squat building looked so odd. Good to know!

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Great building. And I’m disappointed in the floor plate size of this tower; it should fill the entire footprint of the Crocker Bank Building. This looks like a silly thin nub (but then I guess that’s all the rage now-a-days, as witnessed by what’s going up all over NYC).

      [Editor’s Note: The tower floor plates would measure a little over 7,000 square feet apiece.]

      • Posted by Cee Cee

        The floor plate does seem better suited to residential than office.

    • Posted by Frisco

      What a strange history. Why would they simply remove most of the building?

    • Posted by eflat

      That isn’t how the building looked when it was built, that is how it looked after the 60’s remodel.

      That intersection once had 3 great buildings (Crocker Bank Building, Wells Fargo Building and one other where the McKesson Building is (it had a beautiful men’s store on ground floor: Robert Kirk Ltd.

  3. Posted by cleverpunhere

    Great opportunity for more density right by a major transit hub.

  4. Posted by Futurist

    I think the current existing rooftop open space is a welcome respite from the several towers ALREADY surrounding this corner. The new tower will create more shadows, more wind and will diminish the architectural character of this prominent corner.

    • Posted by Hunter

      If you noticed from the link above, the building was originally 10 stories taller, and was demolished to create the “architectural character” you mention sometime in the 1980s. It looks incredibly out of place in the central business district, and the roof garden is only open during business hours on weekdays.

      • Posted by True

        The roof garden is “closed” most times I try to visit. The elevators always seem to be broken or something.

        • Posted by Emanon

          Try taking the stairs from the 3rd floor of the Galleria. I work in 1 Montgomery, the roof is always open.

          • Posted by Orland

            The Galleria would be the primary victim of the inevitable shadowing effect of the proposed tower.

        • Posted by Orland

          It’s a great space and the cafe would be a nice addition so long as its “discovery” does result in overcrowding ruining the laid back ambience.

      • Posted by Futurist

        Yes, I remember the 10 floor unattractive tower being demolished then, when I used to work downtown right next store in a high rise. The original Willis Polk architecture is what I’m referring to as “architectural character”. As is it now, it offers a nice balance of low scale and open space amid the cluster of towers at that intersection.

        The roof top garden is a great place for lunch and open a lot. Just take the stairs from the top floor of the Galleria.

        • Posted by Chris

          What remains of the building is lovely, but architecturally and in context with the current city fabric, it looks rather ridiculous. It looks like a lopped-off building, which is exactly what it is.

          In any event, the proposal would actually significantly expand the current open space and add a cafe. The new tower would be built away from the open space, so it would not really have much impact on its use and enjoyment.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Calling a building “ridiculous” because it’s shorter is not an architectural term I’m familiar with. I think the new proposed tower would be inappropriate at this location, creating more shadows and wind. The open rooftop plaza is a welcome break from the surrounding taller buildings.

  5. Posted by Oakland lover

    why only 500 ft? otherwise, this is great!

    • Posted by MukDutch

      Surprised original zoning of only 250 ft. Expanded POPOS is always great.

  6. Posted by jamesjr

    By “transit hub” you mean our two billion dollar bus station?

    • Posted by Notcom

      No, I think he’s referring to the already overburdened Montgomery St. Station(s).

      • Posted by cleverpunhere

        Right–BART, several dozen other transit lines of various types, etc. Mass transit can always be better, but this is one of the most transit rich areas of the whole city. Is that controversial?

        Is there a better place for this sort of thing? Where?

        • Posted by donjuan

          Anywhere but San Francisco! Keep it at 30 ft tall. Maybe someone can buy it and turn it into a bank-themed restaurant.

          • Posted by concernedcitizen

            I was hoping they would force the bank to take the doors off, so homeless people could roam free and do whatever they like day or night. Shame on the mayor for not doing something about this already.

      • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

        I use Montgomery regularly. How is the station overburdened?

        • Posted by Notcom

          Of course it’s possible a multi-million(-billion?) dollar expansion isn’t actually necessary, and BART is simply involved in a power grab…I’ll readily accept that interpretation.

          • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

            You mean like: “Improve and increase vertical circulation capacity by constructing new stairs next to existing escalators, elevator upgrades, etc.”

            People do improvement to subway systems like this all the time. I’d call it investing for growth rather than “overburdened”. Montgomery is very functional as it is. It is not remotely as busy as stations in China or Japan.

          • Posted by Notcom

            If your point is that Montgomery is not currently at capacity and the plans are designed for further growth, then that’s possible. But since the expansion isn’t underway, may never happen, and certainly won’t happen in the near future, I think the controlling factor should be current capacity; and my impression was that the station currently was at/near its design capacity (hence the plan(s)…not as a “wish list” for the distant future but a response to current trends).

            As for a comparison to various Asian Metro systems, I don’t doubt that Japanese and Chinese systems are more crowded than BART – and Indian transit systems are even more crowded than the former – but BART was built to somewhat more luxurious standards, for a variety of reasons, and many – I believe – would like to keep it that way.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            This article says that the Montgomery and Embarcadero stations see about 150,000 people each day.

            Notcom, are you seriously arguing that the addition of 52 condos will have a measurable effect?

          • Posted by Oaklandlover

            I exit at Montgomery every day and have been for too many tears now.. It’s a non event. I remember riding the Paris metro long ago, and the tube in London many times and more recently. Boston and NYC systems too.

            Montgomery is like a moderately busy station.

            I don’t see the problem here. The transbay bottleneck is a whole different issue but station capacity isn’t really an issue.

            Or do we expect all passengers to have a seat at all times and all stations to always be sparkling clean with a culturally arbitrary 1ft between people all the time even at peak?

          • Posted by Notcom

            Probably not. (And if they’re either condos or a hotel, there may not be any BART usage at all); the discussion was more of a general one in reference to the OP’s remark that “(this area represents a) great opportunity for more density right by a major transit hub”

          • Posted by Alai

            The transbay bottleneck is actually connected to the station capacity. The problem is this: the station gets so crowded, with so many people getting off, and then on, each train, that the trains have to stand at the station for longer than ideal. This puts a limit on how many trains can run on each track, because they need to wait for the previous one to clear (plus safety margins).

            The billion-dollar expansion of Montgomery and Embarcadero stations is intended to improve that situation: by having platforms on both sides, with an exit side and an entrance side, Bart can significantly reduce the amount of ‘dwell’ time each train needs to spend at these stations, and as a result increase the number of trains stopping every hour, thus boosting the capacity of the transbay tube.

          • Posted by Notcom

            Thank you, Alai. And the “platform crowding:, I would point out, is a safety issue having to do with fire regulations and evacuation protocols, not aesthetics , how much various people do/don’t enjoy the station or whether/not some station in some foreign country is more crowded.

            If I am mistaken and the capacity limits are not being approached, then I will stand corrected. But regardless, the station will reach capacity at some point,so that not every call to “add density” can be met…even if this particular development isn’t the deciding one.

          • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

            Who said Montgomery is near capacity? I am pretty sure they can carry 50%-100% more passengers without any major change. Run trains more frequently. Run longer trains. Add more escalators. All these are just something everyone is doing to accommodate growth. Forget about adding platform. Clearly it is not a serious plan. Nor is it needed in any foreseeable future.

            Have you seen some actually busy subways around the world? They are doing way more than San Francisco is doing now.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            > Who said Montgomery is near capacity? I am pretty sure they can carry 50%-100% more passengers without any major change.

            Glad you feel that way; but see the cited study for what the *experts* think.

            > Run trains more frequently.

            See above, re: dwell times and safety limitations.

            > Run longer trains.

            BART already runs platform-spanning 10-car trains at rush hour; what do you propose?

            > Add more escalators.

            Face-slapping irony for that comment, given that at the start of this thread you disputed the need for the Montgomery expansion proposal…

          • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

            Based on what I see in the rest of the world, Montgomery can do a lot more.

            BART’s headway is about 3.5 minutes in the morning. Hong Kong’s MTR is 2 minutes.

            The “rush hour” can be extended. People don’t have to all come to work at 9am.

            I never said the “expansion project” is not needed. The expansion project is about minor things like adding escalator. I said it is routine work that’s done all the time.

            What is not needed is a billion dollar project to add new boarding platform. It is not a concrete project. They just throw out an idea in case the Fed want to throw them a billion dollar, then they have a project that needs the money. All the major subways in the world I know handles millions of passengers without the luxury of having multiple platforms.

          • Posted by Alai

            Wai Yip Tung:

            The new Bart cars that are going to come into service over the next couple of years should actually help, with their three doors and fewer seats. Likewise, some of the problem may be outdated signaling systems which don’t allow what should be safe following distances.

            It would be interesting to see some comparisons: I know there are subways with lower headways, but how do they compare regarding the passenger flows at particular stations? There are a lot of variables in terms of circulation patterns, and commuting patterns (eg “everyone on a crowded train gets off at this station where very few people are waiting to get on” may be a lot faster than “half the people on the train get off onto a crowded platform, and then a lot of people get on”.) Other systems may have trains with better layouts for rapid boarding and deboarding. Certainly Bart is noted for its ample seating, at the expense of capacity and passenger movement. It might be that changing these things would be enough.

  7. I’ll take a three bedroom, thanks. What a great area to live in.
    A little taller or shorter would add interesting variation to the area.

  8. Posted by MukDutch

    I like the idea of a hotel here. Even with the advent and popularity of Airbnb SF can support more hotel rooms. My only support for that statement is how expensive a few nights in a decent place here is.

  9. Posted by redseca2

    Certainly adds complexity and contradiction to the history of that site. SOM took the original full block building down to be able to build the new tower on the SW corner, saving the old bank hall on the Montgomery/Post corner and creating the Galleria in a complex deal built around the panning guidelines of that period.

    So now we begin to build it all back. What goes around comes around.

    • Posted by Notcom

      While I applaud your bringing some history – thank you !! (though you omitted some parts, like the demolition of the notable Foxcroft Bldg and the usurping of Lick Place…hence the Galleria) – this does much more than “build it all back” : it will add considerable density to the existing plan, which, in turn, had much more density than what preceded it.

      • Posted by Patrick

        There was an amazing Korean sandwich place in the Lick Place garage back in the ’70s.

  10. Posted by Adam

    it looks awful. They got planning permission for Crocker Galleria and tower by agreeing to demo the original tower above the bank, which looked much better than this new proposal. Just let them put the building back in an approximation of the way it used to be!

    And I have asked this question before- This was a public space that was created as a condition for the construction of the building next door. Do those sorts of commitments just expire after a decade or two? Would Planning allow more recently created POPOS to be demolished or reduced in size without replacement?

    • Posted by an architect

      don’t judge the looks by some quick sketch that was probably leaked and never meant for public review. also, SS’s original post states that the POPOS will be expanded – not deleted. this is a very appropriate project… it’s downtown!!!!!

    • Posted by joh

      Only about half of the existing rooftop is used as a POPOS. The other half is blocked off. Opening up the blocked off portion allows them to expand the POPOS.

  11. Posted by MDG399

    Too bad they can’t build the new tower OVER the Well Fargo building – inside that Wells Office is gorgeous – and wouldn’t want to lose it – but why not close it for the 2+ years to build the new tower and make something spectacular….?

  12. Posted by 101

    This type of project was done a few years ago at the Chronicle building at Kearny and Market. The Ritz Carlton built a residential tower ontop of the building and increased it to 16 stories. This project would make a nice cornerstone for Montgomery Street.

  13. Posted by guest

    There are a few other short/squat old buildings that could use the same treatment (i.e., of adding a 50-70 story extension).

    Palace Hotel on 2nd/Market — in fact, there was a 60 story (near 700 ft) extension proposed before the recession, but was abandoned

    1 market street/plaza

  14. Posted by Serge

    Hope it won’t look like this monstrosity.

    Too bad they are not getting rid of Crocker Galleria and instead eating into what’s left of this building. I still can’t believe the existing floors were ever removed from this building. It’s like one bad mistake after another.

    Would love to see an interpretation of Beaux-Arts or Art Deco.

  15. Posted by Someonewhocares

    Geez, at least make the tower tall enough to peek out above the surrounding plateau. Why not build it higher? After all, this is a prime downtown location next to transit. High density near transit is the wave of the future.

    • Posted by Orland

      If built out to the residential proposal, these units would not be about “density.”

  16. Posted by James Perth

    According to BART data from February of this year, Montgomery station is the most crowded stop in the entire system. Is it as bad as some other cities in other countries? No. Try getting on a train in Sao Paulo during rush hour in the summer; there is no comparison. But I would still consider it a transit hub.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      trains in Sao Paulo not that bad. try tokyo. feels like your feet are no longer on the floor

  17. Posted by Adam

    Alternative- just let them put the ten stories of office back over the building, and put a new roof garden on top of that. It will fix their mistake when they removed it in the first place.

    • Posted by Serge

      Exactly. Put it back and call it a day. Problem is that the kind of detail and craftsmanship they used back in the days is likely too cost prohibitive today.

  18. Posted by Louis

    Dont think this will ever be approved. Not ever.

    PS open space commitments do not expire, as far as I know, since the extra height they are traded for never expires.

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