Purchased for $45 million in 2016 having been leased to Reddit, plans to convert the 33,000-square-foot, 185-space parking garage portion of the original NBC Radio City building at 420 Taylor Street, which was designed by Albert Roller, on the border of the Tenderloin, into 36,000 square feet of additional office space could be approved at the end of this month.

With the conversion, the building would total 86,000 square feet of finished space, including a new 1,000 square foot coffee shop at the corner of Taylor and O’Farrell. And yes, the corner shop has been rendered, but not officially announced, as a new Philz.

Recent Articles

Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by formerly%whatever

    Will daily parking rates soon rival a 4* hotel stay?

    • Posted by Alai

      Well they’re both about the same number of square feet…

    • Posted by Tony

      The real question is what on earth are you doing arriving at Union Square locations by car? Yeah, of course parking rates are going to be through the roof because expecting to casually drive downtown to locations well served by public transit and rideshare and expect to park your personal vehicle is a luxury.

      • Posted by spencer

        i always always drive to union square. parking rates still reasonable in sutter stockton garage. still cheaper and faster than uber.

  2. Posted by Metroliner

    I can’t be the only one that doesn’t like Phil’z, right? Their coffee takes forever to get and is usually not hot. What the heck is the point?

    • Posted by SFRealist

      You’re not the only one. I really wanted to like Philz for my daily addiction, but it’s just bad and slow.

      • Posted by ijustworkhere

        Not a fan of Philz, either. Overrated, bossy, and low quality coffee.

    • Posted by Tipster

      Philz has a secret ingredient to their process that makes their coffee far better than it would be. That ingredient is a counter that has a wall in front of it so that you can’t see what’s going into that cup of coffee.

      What goes into it is a ton of cream. So much cream that no one in their right mind would EVER drink it due to the saturated fat and calories. But because of the wall in front of the counter, you don’t see them add it, nor do you see how much is added. It’s also why their coffee is not as hot.

      The wall in front of the counter is the secret to their success, like the “non fat” yogurt in the Seinfeld episode that Seinfeld had tested when it just tasted too good to be true, and when the health department made them change their signage to remove “no fat”, everyone was mad at Seinfeld.

      • Posted by Ray

        I’m in favor of saturated fat and Calories, but I take my coffee black so I didn’t know that about Philz. I’ll try that next time I’m there.

      • Posted by stevenj

        Philz is the highest octane coffee I’ve ever had.

      • Posted by Amewsed

        It must be like eating Belgian fries for the first time and thinking why does it taste so good compared to American fries? The secret? Use of duck fat in frying those potatoes.

        I will sometimes stir in some condensed milk to my coffee for a smoother creamier taste. This is popular in Asian countries.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          The trick to Belgian frites is to double fry. First they are cooked for a couple of minutes in large batches and then set aside, usually in long stainless steel bins above the fry vats. Then they are refried for a minute in small batches just before serving. The first frying mostly cooks the spuds. The second frying reheats the now cold precooked fries and gives them just the right crisp with a creamy center.

          It is hard to find the real deal in the Bay Area. The closest I’ve found are the fries served at Burger Lounge.

          • Posted by Amewsed

            It doesn’t sound difficult to recreate, don’t know why it isn’t done here.

            Same thing with a roast squab in Hong Kong my parents raved about decades ago. Secret was using a young squab and injecting butter underneath the skin towards the end of the roasting process. Decades later, not duplicated in SF, allegedly a foodie town.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Yes, it is a mystery why certain culinary treats are not available here or are created as poor imitations. Despite a dozen pizzerias claiming to serve Chicago style deep dish, there’s nothing that compares to Lou Malnati’s or Papa Del’s in the Bay area, Same for other “fly over country” specialties like catfish po boys, Primanti’s style sandwiches (Giordano Brothers do a great job but still far from genuine), brick cheese, and proper sliders. I’m sure there are tasty foods from other parts of the world that can’t be found here. Judging from the grimaces on the faces of my Indian and Chinese friends when we discuss the state of the restaurant scene one can assume that better dishes can be found back in Asia.

            One explanation is that there’s only so many different tastes and textures that any locale can support, no matter how diverse their population. India and China are enormous countries with many regional and ethnic differences. But 90% of Indian and Chinese restaurants serve the from the same uniform list of items like Shredded Beef Broccoli and Chicken Tiki Masala, probably out of a need to survive through predictability. Unleashing the full breadth and depth of culinary tradition on a foreign population results in choice fatigue.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Oh, and as to why an easily made dish like Belgian twice fried frites aren’t available here I’m guessing it is a combination of ignorance and apathy and I don’t mean that in a condescending way. Not many people here have been hooked on Belgian fries and of those who have tried them “over there” not all notice the difference. Combine that with a huge diversity in lesser “American” fries, Belgian Frites get lost in the crowd. SF’s “Frijtes” aims to reproduce the authentic frites. They’re good but unlike the Belgian standard. Ironically the most widely available nearly Belgian frites comes from McDonalds. OK, enough off topic from me. C’mon, we’re talking about an old building in the ‘Loin here.

      • Posted by Ohlone Californio

        That’s not true about the cream. There’s only milk or cream if you ask for it.

        • Posted by Philz-er

          Heavy cream is the default, have to ask for anything lighter. Brown sugar the sweetener.

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            I get coffee there all the time. “room for cream”? is the question, every time.

          • Posted by Philz-er

            Philz never asks “room for cream”, they don’t have a self-serve cream/sugar bar. They ask how creamy/sweet and use heavy whipping cream (not half and half!) unless you ask for something else.

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            Oh yeah? OK. Come to think of it you’re right. I guess I just say I want it black always.

      • Posted by NoPa Kid

        Stop drinking coffee with cream. Adds completely unnecessary sugars and fats and it takes a month to get used to drinking black coffee.

    • Posted by Formerly Native

      WORD!! My wife and I said the same thing the one time we went. I knew we were doomed when we asked the barista for two medium coffees and the response was “Is this your first time here?”

    • Posted by spencer

      its 2 levels below Peets, and just above Starrbucks. definitely a C- coffee

  3. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    This is a beautiful Art Deco building. The store front conversion seems so low effort. It looks worst than the garage that it replaces.

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      My gosh, what have they done to the lobby (Old versus New)? Who picked the lime green color???

      • Posted by friscan

        Aside from one being B&W and the other being bright green, it looks the same to me. It’s the same stairway, just taken from two different angles: close up and far away..

        • Posted by Adam

          It looks like in the old photo that the ceiling may have had a silver leaf treatment. At least they haven’t done anything to the lobby that could not be undone.

      • Posted by Notcom

        The building – which I would call ‘art-‘ , or ‘streamline moderne’, rather than ‘art deco’ (tho this is certainly an arguable point) – has definitely seen some losses, such as the front doors and, I assume, the “[s]how windows at either side of the entrance and others inside the main lobby [that] tell the story of radio” (which probably isn’t much of a surprise since “the story” of subsequent occupant KBHK is much less compelling).

        But the outside mural – let’s go out on a limb and call it “iconic” – is preserved, as are most of the other features – or non-features, really, in such a stripped-down design – so I s’pose we shouldn’t complain much.

      • Posted by Formerly Native

        They added a bunch of ugly and non functioning furniture

    • Posted by Miraloma Man

      Indeed, this building could really shine if the glass block detailing was restored in placed of those nasty anodized aluminum windows that are there now. BTW, this was the old RKO studio in San Francisco.

  4. Posted by OpenHousin'

    Couple points:

    I admit to being a Philz addict and happily ponying up the additional cost in both time & money to get my fix. I will say that the time issue can be resolved by utilizing their app to order ahead. Regarding the levels of cream they use – I had suspected that might be the case and now get a low fat version that supposedly uses less cream. While there is some impact on the deliciousness level by doing so I still feel that their coffee is the best that I’ve had access to on any sort of regular basis. And I agree that it’s mighty high octane. To quote the editor – and now, back to 420 Taylor St…

    I’m not familiar with the look of this building in person but from the pics I struggle to see it as a ‘beautiful’ Art Deco structure. Anyone else able to confirm or deny Wai Yip Tung’s claim?

    • Posted by Brian M

      Every era, even the Art Deco era, has bland and mediocre buildings.

      It IS sad that our era (since about 1960) is so completely dominated by the banal, but….

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      This view is better. The picture here doesn’t do it justice. Also the lobby and inside view.

    • Posted by spencer

      philz coffee is more low quality than peets, which is only mediocre. its like a wendys on the fine food scale. better han mcDs and burger king, but still fast food.

  5. Posted by anon2.5

    More evidence that surface/street level parking is not the best and highest use of land in SF. Can’t wait to see One Maritime Plaza converted.

  6. Posted by Invented

    Agree w Wai. The darkening of the windows deadens/smothers the deco style. The designer is oblivious. This is better as a base for a mixed-use building in the rising Tenderloin. (Add 6-8? floors). Why underbuild in this strategic location?

    • Posted by SFMichael

      It’s not clear that they’re darkening, or even changing the windows at all. The only thing the rendering shows them doing to the exterior is putting glass and glass doors over the existing entrances, giving the building a paint job, and sticking their name on it.

  7. Posted by Amewsed

    I was naively hoping the news were they would make the building much taller and add housing on top of the offices. The footprint of the building justifies higher.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Also the location. This is an ugly short building in a location that should be four times taller. I’d love to see a big residential tower go in here.

      • Posted by JWS

        I think the Art Moderne structure is worth saving, but would have been nice to see them add a housing tower on top of the converted garage so that Reddit could get their office space but we could get housing as well.

    • Posted by Hunter

      Agreed 100%

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *