511 Harrison Street site

Built in 1930, prior to which a number of residential buildings had resided on the Rincon Hill site, the two-story industrial building at 511 Harrison Street has served a number of commercial tenants over the past 85 years, was the site of One Rincon Hill’s original sales office, and is currently leased to the Terra Gallery & Event Venue through the third quarter of 2020.

And the site, which has been zoned for development up to 400 feet in height, is now on the market without a set price.

Keep in mind that San Francisco’s Rincon Hill Plan requires a minimum separation of 115 feet between all structures that rise above 110 feet in height in order to maintain adequate sunlight and air to the streets and open spaces below, a special exception to which was effectively granted to Hines for their adjacent tower to rise at 525 Harrison Street and which could now affect the potential for the 511 Harrison Street parcel, as will the existing (and planned) towers across the streets.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Drew

    I remember when the San Francisco chapter of the AIA would hold events in this building. Cool space, but very much underutilized.

  2. Posted by hmmm

    a potential bidder would be foolish to pay a price that assumes anything taller than 110′.

    • Posted by Tony

      San Francisco would be foolish to keep listening to rich people who think they own other people’s land. If they want their view permanently protected they should buy the land themselves. Otherwise they’re getting control over other people’s land for free creating an externality by restricting the housing supply. When we bend to the wishes of people wanting to protect their views we are enacting a wealth redistribution program to boost the property values of our richest residents.

      • Posted by Orland

        By “rich people,” I’m assuming you mean the residents of One Rincon Hill and similar towers built in recent years However, these height limits and spacing rules were put in place pursuant to the seminal Rincon Hill Plan before anything was built and reflect public priorities.

  3. Posted by Dave

    The Hines exemption should never have been granted. The code put in place that resulted in the up-zoning are very clear on building height, separation and the reasons for such.

    To grant another exemption would be just another example of SF cronyism.

    Do not allow anything higher than 110 feet. Keep to the code and keep the remaining sunlight for the streets and parks below.

    Rincon Hill is an eyesore now. Another tower would only degrade it further.

    • Posted by Anon

      I don’t think that Rincon Hill is an eyesore, but the prescribed separation between buildings should be followed.

      If more 400 ft buildings are needed it is better to push them a bit further away from the existing buildings, into neighboring areas.

      • Posted by Sassy

        I think most of Rincon Hill looks decent except for the Jasper Building. It’s a study in Modern Clunky!

        • Posted by Oaklandlover

          Agree 100%. I’ve grown to accept jasper…. It could be worse….I think another 2-4 400ft – 650ft towers on rincon hill would better accentuate that peak of the skyline so I hope they get this site to 400ft at least. I can’t wait for further development on the hill as it still seems very half baked. It needs more density to really come to life. Still seems dead on the street there, in terms of pedestrian and shops.

    • Posted by Tony

      My only problem with the look of Rincon Hill aesthetically is that it’s such an abrupt height difference with it’s surroundings. More towers to the south of it are exactly what’s needed.

      • Posted by Frisco

        the Rincon Hill skyline looks like the four bars of a cell phone signal. A shorter tower to the south of the Bay bridge would help, visually at least.

  4. Posted by 101

    With the softening of the condominium market, 2020 could be in the middle of a greater slow down and these type of projects will be on hold. Eventually though, a tower will be developed there and should be developed to the 400 ft height that is allowed with a exemption.

    [Editor’s Note: Technically, the Rincon Hill Plan doesn’t allow for an exemption to be granted.]

  5. Posted by Bay Guy

    If they do place a taller structure in that area, I hope that they fortify it so it doesn’t sink or tilt (cough, cough)… even though it rests on more solid ground.

    • Posted by RobBob

      If I recall correctly, Rincon Hill has shallow bedrock, hence why the anchors for the bay bridge are there.

  6. Posted by Dave

    The editor notes the plan does not allow exemptions and yet …… what was not originally allowed has already been allowed once with Hines. Does anyone doubt pressure will be put at some point by the new owner of this site to build a 400 foot box as opposed to the allowable 110 foot box – assuming new projects are built which come within 115 feet of the site before anything is built here.?

    Several of the comments make the point. They suggest pushing the hi-rise zone south. Don’t alter the minimum separation requirements, but spread the hi-rise zone. This hi-rise creep was predictable from the get-go with the RH and TTA up-zonings. SF RE developers/speculators will always want more.

    The Central SOMA proposal does not envision 400 foot towers directly to the south of RH. The several sites proposed for 300 plus feet are far enough away they won’t rectify the abrupt height change. Building hi-rises directly south would just create another abrupt change directly south of that area.

    The solution is not in allowing hi-rises in areas zoned for 85 feet. That will worsen the situation and further aesthetically degrade SF.

    This ties to the proposed up-zoning of Central SOMA. The current proposal envisages 200 to 300 plus foot buildings in certain specific areas, but does anyone doubt the pressure to up-zone the Central SOMA again will happen a few years down the line after/if the current up-zoning is approved.

    Many San Franciscans oppose this hi-rise spread. Its why the Central SOMA plan needs to be put to a vote. I’m confident the Supervisors will place such a measure on the ballot given the many groups opposing this. If that fails to happen then it will have to be the residents who put the Central SOMA up-zoning on the ballot. If it passes fine, but any potential spread of the hi-rise zone needs to be decided by San Francisco residents and not a developer dominated Planning Commission and City Hall.

    • Posted by scott f

      Agree with extending the high-rise zone south.

      This San Franciscan wants more balance in the Central SoMa Plan. It shouldn’t be encouraging 3x as many jobs as homes, but rather a 1:1 ratio. Accomplish some of that by raising all the irresponsibly low 85′ height limits to a more appropriate 120′ and allowing at least one 200′ or taller tower on every block without setbacks. Plan for all the additional total floor space enabled by the change going to housing.

      • Posted by Dave

        I think most San Franciscans oppose any expansion of hi-rises into the Central SOMA. The only way to know for sure is put the plan to a vote. This up-zoning will have a huge impact on transportation throughout the city. Given the lack of housing compared to the over-abundance of jobs in the current proposal. – more people trying to squeeze across the bridge or fight their way down 19th to the Peninsula.

        The plan as is is flawed. The housing/job balance you mention being the most glaring. The designation of 200 feet at 2nd and Dow which will shadow the park in the office building across the way is short-sighted. And the Tennis Club proposal where the developer wants to go to 200 feet did not get that height designation. And it would not have shadowed a park.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          …the Tennis Club proposal where the developer wants to go to 200 feet did not get that height designation.

          That’s incorrect. Planning’s recommended Central SoMa Plan would, in fact, increase the height limit for the SF Tennis Club site at Brannan and Fifth from 65 to 200 feet. It doesn’t, however, increase the height to 250 feet as the project team has proposed.

        • Posted by RobBob

          I live in Central SOMA and I support the expansion of high rises in the area. If you want to live in a low rise basically suburban area there are plenty of those in other parts of SF. There’s no need to artificially restrict yet another neighborhood with low height limits. Higher density means less environmental impact per person and also providing city services becomes more efficient (i.e. frequent public transit becomes more economical).

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        i wish central soma would be upzoned to 300 ft and western soma to 200 ft. Im a san franciscan

        • Posted by Jake

          yup, and spoken like a san franciscan that lives on the other side of the city. I’m a san franciscan that lives in soma. I wish we would build a subway from the transbay under folsom st out to 16th st, and another one under geary to where the sun don’t shine (~masonic) and all our unicorns would foal. If wishes….

    • Posted by Joe

      Because San Francisco residents have been doing such an amazing job adding necessary housing to the city for the last several decades?

      Give me a break with these everyone must vote on everything ever fantasies. It’s clear that the real motivation behind proposals like that is just to create more gridlock

  7. Posted by Notcom

    So is the $20M price not a “set price” or is that a new bit of info?

  8. Posted by checker

    Area needs more towers, looks like a bunch of toothpicks sticking up out of the ground.

  9. Posted by Sam

    I also live in Central SOMA and i also support higher buildings throughout the neighborhood as long as most of them are residential, not offices. The City is making transit much worse by approving mostly tall office buildings, forcing all the workforce to commute. A perfectly planned disaster.

  10. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    When you crossed the bay bridge into SF, you used to be able to see the hills the fog rolling over and the spire on the hill. Now you see towers that obliterate the views and do nothing to improve the skyline.

    As long as we don’t pay attention, the mindless profiteering ignores the sensibility of planning.
    We lose our sites, our visions, and our views. (Some of which are PUBLIC) and should be considered protected in perpetuity…

    It looks like San Diego or any other skyline… when you approve banal buildings, with no thought or cognizance of the other buildings surrounding or adjacent.

    Lacking context or inventiveness in the concepts, means we end up with a rather boring result…..

    • Posted by checker

      Time for you to move then since it’s such a banal, soulless place now. What does it say about you if you continue to stay?

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