30 Van Ness Avenue

Lendlease Development has drafted their preliminary plans for a 520-foot-tall tower to rise at 30 Van Ness Avenue. And while previous plans for the Hub District parcel had envisioned razing the City’s existing five-story building on the site and starting from scratch, Lendlease is proposing to add two stories of office use to what would become a seven-story podium structure and an all-new 49-story tower on the northern portion of the 30 Van Ness site.

The proposed development would add 49,999 square feet of office space, for a new total of 222,593 square feet; an additional 1,200 square feet of ground floor retail space for a new total of 14,900 square feet; an additional 75 parking spaces for a new total of 117 spaces; and 562 residential units in the new tower, of which 25 percent would be priced at below market rates.

In terms of timing, the City is slated to occupy the existing building until the 1500 Mission Street development is finished, which is currently slated to occur around 2020.

And rather than rely on an adoption of the Hub District Plan to increase the potential height of the 30 Van Ness parcel above the 400 feet for which it is currently zoned, Lendlease is planning to seek the passage of a Special Use District and amendments to the City’s Zoning Map to increase the permitted height to 520 feet and allow general office use above the site’s 4th floor.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Bay Guy

    It will probably reach only 200 feet in height after the final building begins (sometime in 2056). This is how much squabbling will take place before. 🙁

  2. Posted by Eddy

    Request to editor, on these types of posts it would be good to add in a standard, “For reference, Salesforce tower is 1,070ft, Transamerica 853′, 555 Cal 779′, Millennium 646’…” or something to that effect.

    • Posted by Frisco

      It’s not really relevant context, except perhaps in the immediate vicinity… 100 Van Ness is 400′ and Fox Plaza is 354′

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        So, in other words – yay, another table-top!

  3. Posted by Sierrajeff

    I’m curious about putting the tower on the *northern* end of the parcel … as opposed to more centralized. If at the northern end, it’s going to (unnecessarily) adversely affect the adjacent residential tower (former AAA building). Plus if part of the goal here is to create a sort of landmark cluster of towers, the towers should be closer to the points of the intersection, not far away from it.

    • Posted by Notcom

      If you reference the rendering of the original proposal, you’ll notice that it followed your advice – at least insofar as being removed from AAA – by being centered on the block; but that concept also planned all new construction…perhaps structural considerations caused by reusing the current building necessitated moving it.

      Without either a plan or elevation(s), though, it’s hard to tell exactly what this looks like: is it square or a slab … or maybe it’s some kind of complex shape and we’re only seeing a slice of it?

      • Posted by SocketSite

        That’s a great point with respect to the shape, which we totally took for granted. And while not perfect, we’ve since added a site plan with the outline of the tower above.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Thanks. Seems like a pretty slender tower – but it also seems like its placement is more central than might have been indicated from Lendlease’s reference to “northern portion” … so, less of an issue with the ol’ AAA building that might have been inferred.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            The “northern portion” reference was ours, based on the Van Ness Avenue (north to south) section as shown above.

  4. Posted by Someone stole my burrito™

    That’s awful. That’s not a podium, that just a tall building popping out of the middle of an existing shorter building.

    • Posted by Dave

      Agreed. No imagination, nothing appealing about it – it’s a perfect example of techno-modernism. Notice they got their 49,999 feet of additional office space. Max out everything including grabbing a share of the under 50K M cap to get that last dollar of profit.

      • Posted by 101

        Is that not the point for a developer, to maximize the the most profit.

        This project and the others in the “hub” are coming whether people like it or not. Design is important but so is project to pencil out.

        • Posted by Frisco

          You should start a development company with the motto “we make money, not buildings”

          • Posted by 101

            Nah, the vast majority of people walking down the street looking at new developments don’t think about costs involved. For that matter, most people are not architect critics. Besides the Salesforce Tower, no one takes too much notice of what is being developed. This projectis no different.

      • Posted by archiwha?

        it’s a simple capacity study, that’s all. just testing out fits per regulations. it is not a design. imagination will come later.

  5. Posted by goodmaab50

    CCSF Gough Street site even in the basic rendering of shape looked better than this design….

    Tech-hub keeps growing but will Muni and BART be able to take the “load”…. doubt it will be solved in time so expect sardine cans daily….

  6. Posted by JB10

    Does anyone what the process is to force the resignation of Ed Lee. No one apart from the “professsionals” want these monster buildings, yet they keep getting through City Hall.

    • Posted by Joe

      yes, what San Francisco needs is more single family homes on acre plots!

    • Posted by eugene

      Indeed – let’s spread out the demand across the city vis a vis lower scale buildings. Maybe some taller buildings around the BART stations in the Mission….oh, wait…only if it is 100% affordable/subsidized housing. Maybe the Sunset and Richmond could be rezoned to have some residential and additional office over all those low-slung commercial transit corridors…oh, wait…that might destroy the neighborhood character and potentially shadow views of the ocean and bring new people. Maybe the eastern waterfront! Eck, no walls on the waterfront!

      • Posted by Mark

        It’s a losing battle. Time to move to a city that actually gets it…and there are plenty from which to choose.

        • Posted by Dave

          This is true. Even LA is running circles around SF in many aspects of urban living – public transportation for instance. If one travels a bit as I do to other cities it really is obvious that SF is an island unto itself in how it is (really is not) tackling urban planning and all that goes with it. SF is actually moving backwards at a time when cities like the dreaded LA are moving forward. It will have long term serious impacts on SF’s and the region’s economy.

    • Posted by Jeremy Lassen

      I want more housing. By any means necessary.

      Since this is right in the middle of public transit options, and the city plan already planed for buildings of this height at this vicinity, the only people who DON”T want these “monsters” are backwards looking NIMBYs who think this it is still 1984 and tall buildings are the root of all evil. Tall buildings ON MARKET STREET IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN are… you know… good use of land. Putting 500 people in the middle of town and taking them out of cars helps fight global warming. but yeah. Keep bitching about “monsters.”

    • Posted by Dave

      Many (most?) residents don’t want added density. SF is the densest city on the West Coast. The decline in San Francisco has set in pretty much in the last 6/7/8 years and coincides with the large increase in residents and the growth in the labor force. The city PTB and developers have encouraged this to the chagrin of residents as in the case of the Presidio Heights project and with the Hub too. Neighboring Hub residents reluctantly agreed to Hub 1.0 and the city turns around and shoves it in their face by attempting a significant up-zoning from 1.0 to 2.0.

      The only answer is an initiative or initiatives. In this case a ballot measure requiring a vote on the final plan by residents. Or, an initiative that simply freezes density as it is in the Hub area. Same approach could work for the Central SOMA.

      It would take a neighborhood effort that spans the city. On the positive side, I live West of Twin peaks and several neighborhood groups here are strategizing about what can be done to stop or slow the densification of the city.

      The Mayor and Supervisors won’t listen so the ballot box is really the only answer.

      • Posted by Orland

        Dave, the Renaissance of San Francisco began about 7 years ago.

      • Posted by Orland

        I just don’t get this defeatist (of the defeated?) attitude of your ilk. I’m currently in Pittsburgh for the Giants series, and the people here absolutely the makeover modernity has brought to their city. Join the 21st Century!

        • Posted by Dave

          San Francisco is not Pittsburg. Pittsburg has less than half the population of SF and 10% more area. It is far less dense. It has a diversified economy from banking to finance to robotics to health care to hi-tech. 15 of the Forbes top 500 companies are headquartered there. The city is far more open and green in its downtown area. It is one of the most affordable cities in the US in terms of housing. The Economist has ranked it the most livable city in the US in recent years. All that and it’s hi-tech is booming – it’s now called the Silicon Strip. It’s the number 2 most popular city for millennials. It’s not surprising locals are enthusiastic about Pittsburgh in a way they are not about SF.

          • Posted by memester

            First, Pittsburgh has six Fortune 500 Companies, not 15. That is the same count of San Franciso. The city also seven Fortune 1000 companies. Also, there is no Forbes 500. The residents of Pittsburgh are excited because there finally jobs being created. The housing is affordable because there is housing stock built for a city of 600,000 that is still available. But what do any of those things have to do with San Francisco? `We are expected to add another 100,000 residents by 2030. they will need to live someplace. If you want to keep your west of twin peaks suburbia, you should be cheering for more density in the eastern areas.

  7. Posted by oh my

    My crystal ball says regret will follow the hub monsters. Very disappointed thus far with the projects as proposed. Plus the developers are reaping windfalls with the public having very little to show for it.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      You mean very little besides the vastly higher tax receipts and additional housing?

    • Posted by Jeremy Lassen

      uhhhm. the public NEEDS HOUSING.

      I am pleased that this is not an office building only. HOUSING IS GOOD, and given our current lack of housing, is a HUGE benfiit. Every new Market rate unit added to the mix is one less 60 year old home in the excelsior that is one less working class home in the excelsier that is flipped into a million dollar monster.

  8. Posted by Orland

    I can only assume that the upward expansion of the existing Herbst Building will be accompanied by a radical alteration of its exterior’s appearance.

  9. Posted by Rinconmike

    Prepare for the 21st century folks. San Francisco is not a museum. People need a place to live.

  10. Posted by Sebra Leaves

    If SB 35 passes there will only be towers in San Francisco soon. That state may dictate forced density and tiny “units”. Single family homes with yards and may be a past memory.

    • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

      Assuming that you’re referring to this, I wouldn’t bet on it making a huge impact in the short-term (under 10 years).

      The state can dictate zoning and in certain circumstances project approvals, under that proposed law, but it can’t force anything to actually get built. We have lots of laws on the books now to facilitate affordable housing and let’s face it: the necessary affordable housing doesn’t get built, except by non-profits. Developers only want to build luxury housing.

  11. Posted by Orland

    You just described a second-tier SF.

  12. Posted by Jon Schwark

    They are smart… do the bare minimum concept to get buy in from planning before putting any effort in to the design. Why waste time when you know its all going to change anyway?

    One issue i would like to bring up is that during the Peskin-knows-best no-deal on this land the last time, it was brought up that there were significant seismic issues on this lot, which is why the developers offered a lower bid. How does it make sense to build 2 extra floors and a tower on an old building that has seismic issues?

    I’m actually curious about the details. I assume they know about it and have a plan?

  13. Posted by Nick Yale

    I would like to ask those opponents of increased density plan to do about where there children and grandchildren will live in the future? Or are they also advocates of zero population growth through forced sterilization as a means to preserve neighborhood character?

    • Posted by Sabbie

      This is exactly where you want to build density to the max, where there are multiple realistic transit alternatives including regional connections within short walking distance, unlike the SF outer neighborhoods and their joke of “multiple bus lines”.

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