A formal application to raze the vacant two-story building at 925 O’Farrell Street, which had previously been home to Thai Stick Shabu Shabu, and develop a skinny 14-story tower upon its Polk Gulch parcel, which was secured for $3.6 million last year, has now been submitted to Planning.

While draft plans for the site had envisioned a 15-story tower rising up to 150 feet in height, as rendered above, with 51 condos over 1,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, the formally proposed project would rise to a height of 130 feet, the height for which the parcel is currently zoned.

And yes, the parcel is a stone’s throw from the infamous Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre at 895 O’Farrell Street which is now on the market and sits on another Polk Gulch parcel which is zoned for development up to 130 feet in height as well, as we first reported last week.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

    Does this pencil on such a small parcel? Seems unlikely. Greater fool entitlement project….

    • Posted by Curious

      I don’t know how to do that calculation, but it would be cool if we could build tall-ish, small-footprint buildings like this. Is parking usually the limiting factor? Or is it more about not having enough units to cover the cost of more expensive construction methods needed for taller structures?

      • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

        Parking and circulation and construction methods. You need to provide an elevator and two stairways out of the building. That eats up a lot of floor space. The parcel is mid-block, so you can only have windows front and rear (and a semi-enclosed light well). The usable floor area is quite compromised once the fire exit requirements are met.

        You will go down to bedrock, you will expensively shore up the foundations of your neighbors in doing so.
        Probably it will be a steel frame.

        Is there any parking provided? Not clear from the overview.

        The Mitchell Brothers parcel offers more flexibility having light on 3 sides, but the reason we don’t have a lot of tall, small-footprint buildings is that they are expensive to build.

        I may be mistaken, but I don’t think anyone has built something this tall, mid-block in San Francisco.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      It pencils out in Hong Kong. HK’s building codes, costs, and RE market might be different enough from SF that it is not a valid comparison.

      • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

        You can scaffold a skyscraper with bamboo and plastic twine in Hong Kong. I think the rules here are different.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          A bit closer to home, more recently, and even in the same neighborhood, there’s the 12-story Austin which recently rose at 1545 Pine Street having broken ground in 2015. Granted, it was a wider lot but still mid-block and with parking (which this project eschews).

          • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

            What percentage of the Austin’s footprint is absorbed by elevators and stairwells?
            What % of 925 O’Farrell’s footprint is?

            On the SF Prop info map I estimate the Austin as having 125′ of street frontage, and 925 O’Farrell as having 40′. The extra width of parcel allows for an easy 5′ setback at upper floors, eliminating the light and air problem and fireproofing. It also makes the provision of redundant stairways much more efficient.

            620 Eddy, 2 blocks away is for sale $7.25mm, 35 units, if you want to spend multifamily money in the area.

  2. Posted by Daniel

    I think adding this housing unit and transforming the old Mitchell Bros. building will give these two blocks of O’Farrell a nice boost. With the movie theater, Great American Music Hall, corner market, and Ike’s Sandwiches already there, this area should be more a destination than it currently is.

  3. Posted by Cody

    The twin towers with the podium/pool diagonally in the photo was built many years ago as a condo. The market at the time was not good for condos so it became a rental apartment building.

    I read today the theater is for sale for $10 million.

  4. Posted by Cody

    A slim residential tower sits at 1257 Bush St., 12 stories
    A slim office building sits at 130 Bush St., 10 stories. It is claimed to be the narrowest building in San Francisco.

    I have been in both buildings. See Google maps for a street view of both buildings

    • Posted by Notcom

      I believe ‘beo’ means recently: 130 – and according to “Splendid Survivors” there are (at least) two other such 20′ buildings downtown – predate modern egress requirements.

  5. Posted by Martin

    Are external fire escapes still legal?

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      I’m not sure. But I am sure that they are still ugly

    • Posted by Notcom

      Perhaps some clarity in the question: If you mean the type of ladder/platform ones shown above – that I assume “MoD” is referring to – then, no they aren’t allowed for new construction, but yes they are allowed to remain…as evidenced by how many of them do.

      External escapes that otherwise meet codes – i.e. protected stairs- are fairly common…sports stadia, etc. But I’m not sure what the point would be, since you wouldn’t save much – or any space, and you’d have somethin functionally less desirable.

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