601 4th Street #121

In 1991, Holliday Development brought 88 live/work lofts in the converted Heublein Building (601 4th Street) to market. The conversion of the former wine distributorship marked San Francisco’s first commercial-turned-residential development (predating two other Holliday developments – The ClockTower Lofts and 355 Bryant).

According to Holliday, “[d]espite the pending recession…we took reservations on all 88 units in one day,” at an average price of $285,000 per loft and with an average size per loft of 1,360 square feet.  Ah, the good old days.

“The success of 601 4th Street led to a dramatic transformation of the surrounding neighborhood from dingy industrial area to vibrant entrepreneurial district synonymous with the high-tech boom. Residents and businesses poured into the area; hip restaurants, clubs, and hotels cropped up next to traditional industrial businesses such as printing presses, furniture warehouses, and fabric wholesalers.”

If you’re interested, two loft condominiums in the Heublein Building have just hit the market (and we expect to see at least one more unit return relatively soon).

Unit #207 ($639,000 / 1,057 sqft) boasts many “new” features (but no pictures), pergo floors, electric baseboard heat, and one parking space; while unit #121 ($1,295,000 / 1,497 sqft), which failed to sell last year, offers a solid high-end renovation (“Gourmet kitchen w/Bulthaup cabinetry, SubZero, Miele dishwasher/oven, Gaggenau cooktop…Master Bath w/Waterworks limestone, Ann Sacks stones…”), 3-zone radiant heat, and two-car parking.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by tipster

    Yawn. If I want to pay 800 psf, I can get something in a much nicer location location location.
    And that “stunning” renovation looks in the photos like a 1970s kitchen. Maybe that’s the look they were going for, but it doesn’t say anything to me except “rip me out and start over”.
    Interesting fact: if you had put 285K into the market and sat on it on January 1991, it would be worth 1.2M.
    [Editor’s Note: We’re not buying the “1970s kitchen,” and did you see the bathrooms? That being said, “stunning” was probably a bit too effusive (and we’ve changed it to “solid”).]

  2. Posted by Dude

    OK, so the location isn’t ideal unless you play tennis daily. But the smaller unit is priced very attractively. Unfortunately the MLS listing has no pictures….

  3. Posted by Annonymous

    Actually, I think the kitchen is “stunning”…and for the record 1970’s kitchen’s usually had dark, laminated wood cabinetry, formica countertops, green or gold appliances,(and definetely did not have smooth top ranges)…

  4. Posted by amused

    I don’t think “stunning” is too effusive at all.
    Very few have the courage and conviction to embrace a clean, modernist design ethos. Not only is this a real loft (as opposed to a tragic piece of new construction), it’s quite unique in the care put into its renovation.
    Apparently, the only thing that will work for some is Marina, Marina, Marina. Luckily, the Marina has its own Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn, so they can get all of their elaborate wrought-iron candle accessories.

  5. Posted by Tom

    Agreed that the larger unit is a solid renovation, especially the radiant heat (replacing electric baseboard heaters). Bulthaup is a very high-end kitchen cabinet manufacturer, and in no way resembles typical American 1970’s kitchens (though it is a compliment to observe that high-end European kitchens have always mainained a sleek line, at least back to the 70s). Having looked at this unit and the one other that is (perhaps temporarily?) off the market last month, the worst thing is the immediate neighborhood, especially that the remodeled unit looks out at a half level above sidewalk on a fairly bleak stretch of 4th street. At least K&L wines is nearly across the street and some solid restaurants (Fringale, Bacar) are nearby. But it is still not a neighborhood for the majority of buyers, imo.

  6. Posted by redseca2

    The images for unit 121 are so clean they could be photoshop. That is either a compliment or a critique, depending on your taste.

  7. Posted by Morgan

    I think unit 121 is well done also. I also think the choices are very appropriate for the building and space and think the whole package presented is very sophisticated. My question is would a typical buyer in this price range find this aesthetic attractive?

  8. Posted by amused

    A number of people here seem fascinated with “typical buyers” and whether or not a given property has mass appeal. Why is this?
    Not everything has to cater to the middle of the market. Tastes differ. Especially at the high end. In an urban environment like SF, there is enough sophistication (and money) to allow for significant variation. In the larger context, this property is modern, yes, but hardly minimal.
    Some people make the conscious choice to live in a different style. I am myself an atypical buyer, with a ~2200sf conversion loft. It’s perfect for me: striking, modern, industrial. And in a “challenging” neighborhood. My friends who live in the Marina wouldn’t want it, but I don’t want their homes, either.
    The person (or persons) who ultimately buy this property are not going to be some mathematical abstract like “median” or “mean”. They’re going to be people who fall in love with it and take the plunge. Just like they do in Orinda.
    Will it play in the suburbs? Who cares?

  9. Posted by kc

    We looked at 121 and also 312, which was on the market last year for $779k. 312 was a little under 100sqft larger than 207, but felt so small, with a terrible built-in bed/end table combo in the loft and a cramped, windowless “office” downstairs. Or more likely closet downstairs, because there certainly wasn’t any closet space upstairs. It will be interesting to see what they’ve done with 207. It’s always amazing to me that these 1000 and up sqft lofts make my 900sqft apartment feel spacious.

  10. Posted by amused

    … and another thing:
    Why did the editors change from “stunning” to “solid” in response to user comment? This is especially odd in that the user comment, in my humble opinion, was far, far off the mark. 70’s kitchen? Um…
    Odd and disconcerting.
    [Editor’s Note: No need to be concerned. We think it’s a great space/design/renovation (otherwise we wouldn’t have bothered featuring it), and we most certainly did not agree with the kitchen comment. We simply realized that “stunning” really was a bit too effusive. It happens, although not often, and we have no problem correcting ourselves.]

  11. Posted by Cece Blase

    Actually, I think #121 shows as clean as the photos. It’s a great space, except that it’s off the lobby and the outlook is just above street level. It would make an ideal commercial space, however.
    I’d be curious to see what 207 looks like. I think it’s lowest priced unit to come up there since 2005. Some of 601 4th units are very dark–I’ve seen the floor plans with the faux ‘den’ and it can feel like a refrigerator locker. Another negative for 601 4th is the lower ceilings than other Holliday buildings. They’re still quite high, but the loft level winds up with limited clearance. It’s fine if you’re lying or sitting down, but tall people will be inclined to hunch when they stand up.
    The best things about 601 4th is the proximity to the train station, the giant mullioned windows and the mushroom columns and exposed concrete walls and floors. I also like the common areas of all Holliday’s buildings. Minimalist but very cool.

  12. Posted by DesignGuy

    clearly tipster does not appreciate kitchens. they’ve got all the right appliances and figures installed. also, the open plan makes for a very good layout for entertaining.
    i guess if you cook out of a can like some of the commenters, then, yes, it could look like a 1970s kitchen.

  13. Posted by tharpo

    I used to live in this building, and was friends with the guy in 207, so I’m familiar with the unit. It has a lightwell, not a window to the outside, hence the difference in price. It’s a fantastic, beautiful building, and I loved living there. The remodel on 121 is very dramatic. While attractive, it loses some of the starkness of the structure, and looks more like a non-conversion.
    Btw, I’m always amused by the slams that most SOMA properties get for location. Clearly y’all don’t live here. True, it doesn’t have the neighborhood charm of some areas, and services have not all arrived yet (just wait til we have more residents!), but its proximity to the South and East Bay make for a much shorter commute to work, it’s nice and quiet in the evenings, and very safe. Not to mention I get all your extra Giants tickets when you can’t go. “Hey, you live by the stadium — want these?”

  14. Posted by Anonymous

    Someone told me that this building is a potential eminent domain target? I have no idea if that’s true. Anyone know?

  15. Posted by T

    Went to the open house for unit #207 over the weekend. Just FYI…. The showing agent mentioned that the unit had been in foreclosure with the previous owner and now is owned by the listing brokerage.

  16. Posted by Meredith

    Not true on the eminent domain target for 601 4th Street. There are a few loft bldgs in Soma that are in the firing line – primarily a couple of Martin Bldg Company’s projects. The Steel Arc Lofts are reportedly in danger which is a pity because who does radiant heat and radiant cooling?
    There is a Muni stop proposed for outside this building for the new, somewhat controversial Central Subway connecting to China Town – that may or may not ever be built.

  17. Posted by Dude

    Is this the subway that will connect C-town to Potrero? Last I heard this was approved and would be happening. But they don’t expect completion til like 2015 though.

  18. Posted by V

    Saw 207 over the weekend.
    The cons:
    No natural light, the only window faces a shaft (or lightwell).
    The height of the ceiling on the loft is about 6 feet. Any tall person will not be able to sleep up there and even average height people will feel claustrophobic.
    There is only 1 bathroom, which is downstairs.
    The pros:
    Cool looking industrial loft. Also, the price is decent. ($622 psf is good in the area whether you like it or not).

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