Having been approved back in 2016 but yet to break ground, the entitlements for a skinny 495-foot-tall tower to rise at 524 Howard Street, a development which could yield up to 334 condos, or 72 condos over a 273-room hotel, “depending upon market conditions,” were quietly sold, along with the parking lot parcel, to a group of investors for $78 million last year.

And having already been granted four extensions, the operators of the Transbay District parking lot, which is technically a temporary, non-conforming use, were positioning for a fifth extension in order to continue to operate the lot for (at least) another two years.

From American West Parking’s plea to Planning:

In the several years since you last authorized this use, the immediate area has seen a flurry of new nearby office, residential and retail buildings. With that new development, a number of surface parking lots nearby have been developed without replacing the surface parking, making the parking shortage even greater. The pandemic has led to even more people driving downtown.

And while noting that San Francisco’s General Plan actively discourages parking within Downtown Zoning Districts, but acknowledging that public parking lots “provide off-street parking for essential workers, commuters, and other users of the immediate vicinity,” San Francisco’s Planning Commission is expected to approve the fifth extension, which would allow the “temporary” parking lot to continue to operate through September of 2022, this week.

At the same time, the entitlements for the 495-foot-tall tower have now technically expired as well.  We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by ldr

    Bummer. I really liked this design.

  2. Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

    So the owners are not expected to pursue another entitlement extension? An entitled property will usually sell for a nice premium so it’s interesting if they don’t seek an extension. Perhaps the long range goal is just to flip the property at some point.

  3. Posted by $78 Million for a Small Parking Lot?

    524 Howard Street was purchased by a single Hong Kong investor, who used the proceeds from multiple tax deferred exchanges for funding. As a tall planned structure on a narrow lot (with piling needing to go down to bedrock), it will be an interesting development to watch not be built. Already foreclosed upon twice during the past 25 years, the recent purchase price at over $6.300 per square foot of land is expected to stand out as the most foolish San Francisco real estate purchase for years to come.

    • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

      Wow! Thanks for the info. Clearly the purchaser did not do their due diligence. When one does a residential exchange there are tight time limits to identify (multiple) properties and complete the purchase of one (or more) of the identified propertied within the time frame. Did the purchaser use a local expert familiar with commercial real estate, cost of construction and such to identify the properties? Maybe not given the high price paid for a small lot with a high cost to build out if one is putting up a tower. It’s not like the owner is going to build a 5 story building here.

  4. Posted by Karl

    Way too much dithering and speculation going on here.
    Don’t extend entitlement or use as a parking lot.
    Enough is enough; force a sale.

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