While plans for a skinny 495-foot-tall tower with up to 334 condos, or 72 condos over a 273-room hotel, “depending upon market conditions,” were approved to rise on the downtown parking lot parcel at 524 Howard Street back in 2016, the ground has yet to be broken.

And as we first reported earlier this year, with the entitlement to continue operating the technically temporary parking lot, which has already been extended three times, having just expired, its operators are now seeking another two-year extension.

According to the latest request, the reason for the new extension “is that the developer of a new high rise on the lot,” Crescent Heights, “has not received a building permit for the project yet,” which makes perfect sense seeing as how it doesn’t appear as though Crescent Heights has yet to commence the permitting process despite the aforementioned project approval.

Keep in mind that Crescent Heights’ entitlement to break ground for the approved 495-foot-tall tower isn’t slated to expire until in the fourth quarter of 2019, an entitlement which could be extended as well.  And as we first reported last week, the target opening date for the adjacent Transbay/Salesforce Transit Center and Park, to which the skinny tower has been designed to connect, has been unofficially slated for August 12, 2018.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by oakland lover

    At this point I hope they change the plans again and shoot for a sking 1300ft tower to knock of the saleforce tower as the tallest.

    Side note I was walking down main st from market this morning thinking how that surface parking lot at the FED bldg as well as several low gargages around it are ripe for developement. That block is dead and boring because its all built for cars to just some in and out of the garages / lots. Underground the lots, and put a few 1000ft towers on those spots. 1 block form bart and prime time, such a waste of space. Also the skinny odd shaped lot next to the almost done park tower should get built, or they should make a little pocket park there.

    • Posted by Martin

      i had the same thought as well. There’s probably more complications if parking is attached to the building of either providing alternative or slowly “weaning” drivers off the lot.

    • Posted by c_q

      I think the salesforce tower lot was the only lot permitted to go to 1200 feet (and they only used 1070 of that due to some shadow issues), so as to maximize the money for the transbay terminal. If other lots were to be permitted to approach or exceed 1200 feet, I’m sure there would be a few lawsuits flying around.

    • Posted by Futurist

      What’s with the obsession with towers of 1000-1300 feet anyway?

      And when did it become a “goal” for a taller tower to be built only to “knock off” another tower to become the tallest? You’re sounding very Trumpian, with the goal of only the biggest, the best at all costs.

      • Posted by Oaklandlover

        Ok how about 1500ft then! Tall towers are cool imo. That’s all. Especially tall skinny ones that aren’t boxy and square. This is a prime location for such a place. And even better if they left the bat mural on the wall alone. That would be really cool.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        See the history of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.

        • Posted by Oaklandlover

          The Empire State and chysler building are amoung the most classic, elegant and famous towers in the world. The original skyscrapers / supertalls. Things like this inspire people to dream and make possible what is not thought possible. I would be thrilled to see a super skinny 1500ft cool tower (super skinny trans America type design? Or the twisty tower going up on Folsom/Spear, or that curvy tower that was at one point proposed to go up near the transamerica?) go up at that spot. Skinny would mean less shadowing and can you imagine how cool the park will be, surrounded by the salesforce phallac (bleh) 181 Fremont (already a classic!) the Oceanside claw complex (will be amazing!) and a few more here and maybe parcel F at 1400ft?

          HSR, and a new transbay bart/hyperloop line running under Howard with underground passages to the TBT?

          That’s a vision I’d love to see! That would be truly worlclass.

      • Posted by DT

        A tower of 1300 feet would make it something like the 500th tallest in the world. Nothing outrageous at all, I’d love to see more towers of this caliber.

      • Posted by RDMINSEA

        Trumpian goal of only the biggest and best at all cost!?? For whom? Size queen, meet cheapskate.

  2. Posted by Notcom

    They’d best be careful or this may end up being “historic”: the longest-lived “temporary” parking lot in the city’s history.

    • Posted by Elitist Pig

      Sounds like extraordinary and exceptional circumstances to me. Save that parking lot!

      • Posted by Notcom

        It IS functional and unobtrusive….and casts no shadows.
        Hmm…….

        • Posted by spencer

          also provide affordable housing for current tenants

          • Posted by SFMichael

            And preserve the parking lots façade

          • Posted by Notcom

            Virtual Potemkin Villages !! Love it.

  3. Posted by Dave

    Crescent is, IMO, positioning itself so as to be able to best market and sell the site. Notice they are not even waiting until late 2019 to get a re-entitlement which would carry them to late 2022. The market conditions for new SOMA condos won’t be better (they are not that good now) in the coming 3, 4, 5 years. What Crescent might be planning is a re-imaging of the project. Come back with a scaled back proposal for a hotel only development. Maybe 300 rooms/20 or so stories with the condo portion dropped. That aligns somewhat with their alternative plan that had both condo and hotel use – if the market did not warrant an all condo project.

    As to 1000 foot towers in SF – that is not going g to happen. Maybe never, but certainly not in the next several decades. The experience of the TTC which was used to raise height limits has been a negative. Look at the photo – a completely unremarkable mish mass of boxy towers. Not even one tower approaching One Thousand Museum in Miami – the project’s ads have been “popping up” at SS recently. Incredible looking building.

    BTW, there is no political will or overall desire by SF residents to go taller. For anyone who wants that, think of moving to Seattle or LA or Portland all of which are going to 1000 feet and higher in the coming years.

    • Posted by Orland

      I can’t believe Portland is actually giving serious consideration to that monstrous “twin tower” proposal by the riverfront train station.

      • Posted by Dave

        It is not a surprise insofar as, unlike SF, there is not much opposition to hi-rise towers. At the same time Portland is quite “green” as is SF. SF is unique in not wanting hi-rise buildings. It goes way back. With Portland, Seattle and LA developers will have plenty of opportunity to build super-talls. Ironically, as the Crescent tower would have connected to the TTC via the elevated park, the twin tower proposal for Portland is built around their HSR hub. Long term plans is to connect to HSR coming north from Oakland/Sacto through the I5 corridor to Portland and Seattle. The plans for the area around Union Station dwarf what was done at the TTC.

        • Posted by Chris

          Portland has fairly rigid height restrictions and view corridor protections. The site of the proposed “supertall” building (technically incorrect since the building would be under 1,000 feet) is currently not zoned for anything approaching that height, and the proposed rezoning by the City of Portland would only allow a building of 400 feet in height. So, don’t hold your breath for any 1,000 foot tall tower in Portland anytime soon.

          Seattle has had one proposal for a building over 1,000 feet, and the FAA has already voiced objections (the FAA ensured the Columbia Center was cut down in height in the mid-1980s), and there has been no formal application submitted. Now, with Amazon freezing construction on new offices there pending the city’s decision on a new employee head tax, I would doubt you will see any supertall building anytime soon.

          LA recently got one new building over 1,000 feet through the use of a gimmicky-looking tacked on spire, the actual roof of the Wiltshire Grand building is lower in height than the former tallest, the US Bank Tower. While there are many proposed new towers there, it is unlikely you will see any new super-tall buildings anytime soon.

          • Posted by Dave

            Salesforce has a “cap” too. The actual height to the top floor – 61 stories – is just under 1000 feet. 970 feet to be precise. Wouldn’t call the spire “gimmicky” – at least there is a public space at the top of the tower – the Spire open air bar. There are almost a dozen, IIRC, proposals for towers near Union Station in LA. None are over 1000 feet but most are 60 – 75 stories. The Seattle developer will have to shorten the proposed 1000 foot plus condo tower to under 1000 feet because of flight patterns. Other Seattle sites not so close to the flight path for SeaTac will be able to exceed 1000 feet. In the coming years, as I said, super-talls will sprout in LA, Seattle and likely Portland.

        • Posted by Chris

          I realize that Sales Force doesn’t actually have occupied floors going up to 1,000 feet, but at least it actually has a roof going that high. Also, I do believe the Wilshire Grand’s spire is gimmicky, as it was just added simply to claim the tallest on the West, and it is neither pretty nor integral to the function of the building. But, that’s a matter of opinion, so you can have your opinion and I can have mine.

          As for Portland, no, not unless the city drastically changes its zoning will you see a tower over 1,000 (and as mentioned, the one proposal in Portland for a very tall building is still under 1,000 feet). Any developer can propose whatever they want, but the zoning still controls what gets built, and so far, there has been no effort by the city to change the zoning to allow such tall buildings.

          Yes, I agree there will be many new highrises in built in LA, and to a lesser extent Seattle (depending on whether or not the city passes a new business employee head tax), but I do not expect any 1,000+ towers anytime soon.

          • Posted by Dave

            The interesting thing about Grand Wilshire is the not flat top. Until recently by code all LA hi-rises had to have flat tops. With that changed we should get some intriguing designs in LA going forward. As to spires, the one atop 181 Fremont would be gimmicky too? One of the major misses with the Salesforce tower is the lack of any public use of a part of the cap. The tallest building in SF and no observation deck. As hi-rise development winds down in SF the hope is LA and Seattle will produce some worthy towers in coming years. That ship has sailed for SF. As to this site, someone below suggested they combine it with the adjacent parcel as it is too small for a major building. Makes sense.

    • Posted by Anonymous

      Let’s note that you’re only speaking for yourself here. I, as an SF resident, am fine in principle with additional height beyond the current pinnacle. People said for decades SF wouldn’t get taller than it was in the early 70s. And look how that turned out. The entire “Manhattanization” narrative as it pertains to SF and height or density is objectively false.

      • Posted by MB

        Well stated. Dave is always against something bigger, taller, or grander for SF. His track record speaks for itself. The “anti-Manhattanization” crowd is part of the geriatric group today. Most millennials and the younger generation think supertalls are cool.

    • Posted by Frankson

      Pretty sure it’s already been on the market for a while.

      • Posted by Dave

        Most likely. The cache/value of the site took a hit with HSR likely never coming to the TTC and CalTran probably not arriving until 2035 or later. Parcel F developers have a similar dilemma. They paid a ton of money for the site based on a fully built out TTC as originally planned. Maybe that is why they seem to be slow walking that project. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Parcel F project scaled back in size with the condo portion being dropped.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      “As to 1000 foot towers in SF – that is not going to happen.”

      The Salesforce Tower is over 1000 feet.

  4. Posted by RGBiv

    They may want to theoretically determine how much of a shadow it would have on the wonderful new transit park behind it. Same for another big building to the south of it.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Does the shadow ordinance apply to the Transbay park?

  5. Posted by A former planner

    I processed the first entitlement for this site in 1989. I doubt anything can be built on the site because of its size and the jog in the site.

    • Posted by Pablito

      It does seem like combining it with the adjacent parcel would make it much more buildable. We do not need any more Millennium tower debacles.

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