1234 Howard: The Budget To Build (Around $200 A Square Foot)September 12, 2007
While plugged-in people everywhere should already be well aware of 1234 Howard and those amazing aluminum louvers (not to mention some pricing and a review), this morning we learn (via the Chronicle, Saitowitz, and a tipster) that the cost to build the minimalist design was “about $200 a square foot.”
Keep in mind, however, that the cost to build is not the same as the total cost to develop (think land, permits, etc.). And while we don’t have an official update on sales, we do note that none of the second-floor units listed a month ago are in contract. Tipsters?
UPDATE: From Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects directly: “The gross square footage costs of the whole building including the large garage, the extensive outdoor areas, big decks and generous circulation is in the $200 range. The construction costs for the interior habitable areas of the units is well over $350 per square foot.”
∙ New Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects Condos: 1234 Howard [SocketSite]
∙ Those Amazing Automated Aluminum Louvers On 1234 Howard [SocketSite]
∙ QuickLinks: 1234 Howard: A Few List Prices (And A Reader’s Review) [SocketSite]
∙ Blind date: Four-story facade made of aluminum louvers [SFGate]
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
Yess ! We need more of this! Bravo! Beautiful! As a young person living in San Francisco, these damn Victorians, while beautiful in their own right, are getting so tired compared to these new fresh, unique, young, vital beauties going op in SOMA and Potrero Hill. Thank you Mr. Saitowitz !
True, it is a very beautiful building Architecturally but the floorplans are really poor. I think this in large measure explains why the building is selling soooooooooooo slowly. At the end of the day there needs to be a collision between art and functionally. I am very familiar with this project and the Contractor and I can assure you that the REAL hard construction numbers are far in excess of $200 ft.
Wayne: As someone who has been toying with the idea of tackling a much smaller but similar type of building I would very much appreciation your thoughts on how the REAL numbers might breakdown.
Yes, it’s beautiful as an object. As a place to live, however, not so much. I remember viewing the YBL when they were new and thinking “what a creepy place to live.” All the concrete and crappy finishes. Looks nice on the outside, but as a home, leaves alot to be desired.
I had a feeling that number was not going to get by the readers of this site. I think the $200/SF number is likely the hard costs – bricks and sticks if you will. Financing and other soft costs will likely add close to about $100/SF over the approval and construction cycle, then you add the land at $150-$200/SF and I net you come out somewhere in the $400-$500/SF range for total development costs to build it. Then you have to add the holding and selling costs (approximately 5% commission as well as taxes/HOA fees during the sellout) and it’ll push you above $500/SF easy. There’s money to be made in residential development if you know what you are doing, but it definitely is not such a simple equation as the selling price per square foot less $200/SF equals profit.
Pardon the timing of this, but the outside reminds me of the Twin Towers at least at first glance.
From Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects directly: “The gross square footage costs of the whole building including the large garage, the extensive outdoor areas, big decks and generous circulation is in the $200 range. The construction costs for the interior habitable areas of the units is well over $350 per square foot.”
I so wanted to like this development but after I went to see the units I could only walk away being really disappointed. They are functionally terrible and the workmanship / quality of materials are mediocre. The developer / architect paid no attention to the fact that people actually will want to live in the units. The Studio / 1BD Floor plans have no closet space. (The 1BD does have a unusual afterthought of a space at the very back of the unit which I guess could be turned into a closet.) Additionally, (as someone on a previous thread mentioned), there is no washer/dryer hookup in the studio which is also ridiculously small even for a studio. Also, the Studio is designed with no concern for privacy to Howard St foot traffic when showering. (Go see the unit and you’ll know what I mean. This may appeal to all the exhibitionists out there!) The second bathroom in the 2/2 units are a joke. It’s more life a half balf with a tacked on showerhead above. My initial impressions were “wow this is cool development” but after closer examination I realized that this was a great idea poorly executed. The best thing that can be said about 1234 Howard is that it is different.
call me crazy, but I think the outside is really ugly.
I like this building and wish the floorplans were a bit more user friendly, but what is it with the Victorian bashing? If you hate Victorians so much, why not move to L.A.? The fact is those Victorians are what many people come from all over the world to see, and they provide the number one source of jobs for this city which is tourism. I don’t want to live in the past and I want more projects such as this, but can’t we also still allow SOME Victorians to exist in this city?
Victorians are the sole provider of our tourism industry?
I never said sole provider. My point was that some of the things we may not like about San Francisco are what others come here to admire. I like Modern myself, but can understand why some would like Victorians also. The fact is Victorians are part of the architectural context of San Francisco. Every city has a One Rincon tower, but every city does not have Alamo Square.
anon4SF — sure, let’s keep SOME Victorians, but the process in place has completely ossified this city into a Disneyland in the desire to keep every single freakin’ Victorian left in the city. Our knee-jerk historical preservation bent has hindered development beyond just keeping Victorians.
It’s way out of control and it’s killing our city.
And you wonder why is so damn expensive to buy here. Now you know the reason.
“Our knee-jerk historical preservation bent has hindered development beyond just keeping Victorians.”
Usually named, this is what I love about SF. I used to live in Houston in a past life. No zoning. At all. Imagine, strip clubs next to churches and grade schools. Once you experience THAT first-hand you will understand why SF’s “rules” re development are valued by people like myself. Long live the Victorian and Edwardian…
Hmmm.. there is a good tourism industry, yes. SO the city is filling with beer belly families of 5 who just flew in from Disneyland, meanwhile, the incredible shrinking city of San Francisco lost, what, 4.6% of it’s population, or something like that, last year ALONE? All the LIFE is leaving San Francisco, because nobody here is daring or wants excitement, they want it all the same, as the hooters and fisherman’s wharf visitors come here and take over, the real creative and talented people of SF are leaving, leaving behind the dull, the conservative, the old, and the bland !!
get some new drugs, sanfrancsico. whatever you’re on right now is not working.
“the incredible shrinking city of San Francisco lost, what, 4.6% of it’s population, or something like that, last year ALONE?”
The population of San Francisco increased last year, both according to the US Census estimate and according to the State of California Sept. of Finance estimate. And per the state estimate, the population of San Francisco is at a record high.
Does it say what AGE group the city is growing at? I’m talking about the young demographic- 20s 30s and 40s. Not the super rich old farts. The demography that makes a city interesting and lively. Somebody please show me that these numbers are growing, because I’d love to believe you. But you can’t deny that those with life and soul, not the 9 to 5 cubicle office rats, are leaving to pursue other more intriguing cities. SF, I”m afraid, is losing its chance, more and more every day, of becoming an exciting 24 hour 21st century city, and it’s still stuck in 1937, but with newer car models driving around.
Dan, why would you make stuff up that is so easy to see. According to the census estimates, population is off 4.6% from 2000.
Second line on this page:
As for the state estimates, I don’t know if you made those up as well, but those are politically driven to get more money from the feds and should be taken with a grain of salt.
If you don’t mind my turning the conversation back to 1234 Howard, why don’t they have any photographs of the building on their website or MLS listing?
The drawings and floor plans are nice, but nothing takes the place of photographs.
San Francisco has lost 4.2% of its population between April 2000 and July 1 2006 according to the US Census Bureau ( http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06075.html).
As for age distribution in 1990 480,400 people 44 yrs or younger, in 2000 497,600 people 44yrs or younger. Conversely in 1990 243,800 people 45+ yrs; and in 2000 171,400 people 45+ yrs. ie a net EXODUS of older people. Sorry “san francisco” but San Francisco is getting younger.
I still don’t buy the 200/sqft construction cost.
PropertyShark claims they have $8.9M const loan, which is way more than all the numbers in Miles’ post.
The land cost was only $1.3M for probably total of 15K sqft -> less the $100/sqft
While San Francisco is getting younger, it seems to me there are a lot less young artist types living in the City, and a lot more B-School grads. As the perfect incubator for the Beats and the Summer of Love, I just don’t see that kind of soul left in the City (nor the leadership from the City government) to foster anything remotely resembling a literary or artistic movement that later generations would refer to as the “San Francisco” movement of the early 21st century.
I’d like see the city government foster an “Artist in Residence” program where it invites budding artists to the city and offer them below market housing, or subsidize their rent so they can live in the city and create their art. The city has all the right ingredients — diversity, tolerance, openness, etc. — it just needs to add back the artists that have been squeezed out of this place.
I’ve posted the links here several times before, but SF’s population loss, according to US Census estimates, was earlier in the decade, not in the past year. In the past year, the SF population actually increased.
The California Dept of Finance estimates that the SF population has increased by about 32,000 since the 2000 Census, to over 808,000.
No one knows whose mathematical models are more accurate, the federal government’s or the state’s. We won’t know until after the 2010 Census. I don’t buy the argument that the State of California is more likely to lie about the numbers than the Bush Administration.
Here is the State of California’s current population estimate for SF, as of Jan. 2007:
And if you look at the year by year US Census estimates, the federal estimate of SF’s population was that it dropped from 776k to 739k from 2000 to 2005, but it increased in the past year, from 739k to 744k.
If one wanted to eradicate any culture or creativity, then one would initiate policies that raised the price of housing through the roof. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, since 2000 the population of the City has dropped by tens of thousands, ten thousand new units have been constructed, and the price of housing has almost tripled. The Western SOMA used to be an incubator of creativity and culture, especially queer culture on the cheap. But since the mid 1990s, development has steamrolled that ferment. Where the Yerba Buena Lofts are used to be a warehouse full of creative young types. Now it is a bedroom community. The City needs to follow its own laws and entitle housing that meets the needs of San Franciscans rather than the needs of developers.
Specifically to 1234 Howard, it follows Saitowitz’ classic formula of creating sterile, metallic structures that tip their hat to industrial chic buy wrapping boxes in metal in a way that puts a barrier between the homes and the streets so that the occupants needn’t engage with the streets, simply drive out of their 1:1 parking off to their jobs in Silicon Valley and back into the parking lot, sealed by the closing garage door.
Combine that with windows that look out over your neighbors in the adjacent units, and you have a perverse structure. Are there rear yards in this building or is it all built to the lot line?
Marc…about the only thing that has really changed in SOMA are the crime numbers. Why don’t you check those out. Your other assertions are plain wrong!
Yeah, its always astounding how the real estate boosters pooh pooh census bureau numbers and ignore the impacts of market rate housing on existing communities.
Are you suggesting that the population of SF has risen?
Are you suggesting that there has not been more than 10,000 new units entitled and constructed in SOMA and surrounding neighborhoods since 2000?
Are you suggesting that the median price of housing was not $275K in 2000 and is not $750K now?
The facts are that the price of housing is divorced from both the cost of construction as well as the local wage base. This alone is begging for a “correction.”
Further, with the credit crisis, inflation driven by rising oil prices and the lack of the ability of the fed to use fiscal policy to guide the economy, we will see all sorts of instability in the market for luxury housing.
This will give SOMA the kind of breathing room that might protect it from the ravages of market rate housing similar to the ravages of the dot.com “business services” boom that decimated thriving businesses and arts spaces in the district.
So glad that we have a San Francisco home, a Mission edwardian flat with character, financed by a fixed rate mortgage at 5.x% with garden and parking instead of these metallic faux industrial chic crypts that Saitowitz favors.
When the music stops, we have a nice comfy chair with character.
I was an original buyer at Saitowitz’s YBL . While I appreciated that the architect was able to influence selections down to the last finish, making for a consistent overall design, that’s where the attractiveness ended. To echo comments above, the features that were compelling “in concept” during the sales process didn’t translate into an enjoyable living experience. The building overall and my loft were crypt-like. A family member once asked me if I felt like I was living in a storage locker or loading dock. And, the finishes were poor–selected for appearance and nothing else (like durability). I put my loft on the market and got out of there before YBL was even sold out. It was creepy all the way around and even seem to have a “The Shining” affect on residents. People were nice when they moved in but eventually turned sour and remote. And, despite sales agent claims about an improving neighborhood (which hasn’t occurred), YBL did seem to attract buyers who drove in and out of the building garage but never used the front door to venture out on foot.
“meanwhile, the incredible shrinking city of San Francisco lost, what, 4.6% of it’s population, or something like that, last year ALONE? ”
“Dan, why would you make stuff up that is so easy to see. According to the census estimates, population is off 4.6% from 2000.”
When did the debate change from “last year ALONE” (with ALONE in caps) to “from 2000”?
“The facts are that the price of housing is divorced from both the cost of construction as well as the local wage base. This alone is begging for a “correction.””
I beg to differ.
While we can argue whether it is out-of-line with the wages, if you look at construction cost, you would be surprised why the housing price isn’t higher. There has been some good thread about this. $400/sqft is very common for new constructions, not counting the permit, architecture, and carrying costs.
Let’s put this way…if you buy a lot anywhere in the city, building a new house, the cost will most likely be MUCH HIGHER than one of the remodeled houses you can find in the neighborhood, unless you are a contractor yourself.
For your reference, construction cost:
Median income in SF is not sufficient to service a loan of a median priced home. Perhaps 10% of San Franciscans can afford to service that size note.
So what is the point again of entitling the construction of housing that very few can afford when city law requires otherwiwse?
And what is the point of densifying around transit hubs when the transit is broken and at capacity?
If it costs $400 per ft2 to build and housing sells for $600-1000 per ft2, (150%-200% of cost) then it is clear that the price of housing is divorced from the costs of construction.
“If it costs $400 per ft2 to build and housing sells for $600-1000 per ft2, (150%-200% of cost) then it is clear that the price of housing is divorced from the costs of construction.”
It cannot be more socialist than this.
How about the price of the lot? How about the permit cost, the carrying cost, architecture, structure engineer?
Seriously, if you think it is that divorced from the cost of construction, shouldn’t you start buying empty lots and be a developer yourself? Must be extremely profitable, right?
The minimum profit that high rise developers will accept is 28%. What is the median profit? What is the high end profit?
The fact is that state law and federal court decisions allow municipalities to control land use and to “take” profits with intent to stabilize communities from speculators.
State law allows for municipalities to foster the orderly development of their jurisdictions.
If you want free market capitalism and no restrictions on investment and construction, might I suggest Houston, where, as noted above, there is no zoning?
Until then, please stop apologizing for those benevolent developers who are not thinking for a moment about making bank head over foot, but are just trying to do their part to meet the needs of the existing community.
Like the Lower East Side in NYC, San Francisco is killing its own cultural resources by entitling crappy housing like this, offspring of live work lofts, in the Western SOMA.
Sorry to still be on this tangent or rathole, but sheesh, anytime someone expresses dismay at how our planning process works and inevitably Houston is brought up. It’s as tiresome as bringing up Chicago when it comes to architecture.
Whatever. I from Houston too. I’m not saying that SF should be like Houston, but the two cities are at opposite extremes. Where’s the balance? At least Houston has a thriving business community while our planning process is turning San Francisco into a bedroom community.
In any case, Houston is a red herring. It’s not even worth bringing up in this context.
When I moved to SF in 1980 I found a room for $85/mo. That city is gone.
On the other hand, many parts of SF are ripe for a correction. Not the prime neighborhoods, but houses in the Excelsior and Bay View should go for no more than 350K to 450K, less if long term interest rates go up.
The prime market has levitated about the mass market in income AND home values, but NOT ALL OF THIS CITY IS PRIME.
When prices in non-prime neighborhoods correct to affordable levels, there will be more young people and families staying in SF.
Where the price of housing is tied to the local wage base, the price of housing will plummet due to long term interest rate hikes.
Where the price of housing is commodified by flippers and speculators, and the base of capital that is driving those prices is diversified in origin, then the price will remain stable or drop slightly.
Housing prices throughout California are higher than any other state in the US for a variety of reasons, reasons which are exacerbated in SF.
Perhaps a million homes would be impacted by the subprime crisis. If there are 82,433,488 owned homes in the US, then fewer than 1/80 will be impacted by the credit crunch.
All of SF is prime because the price of housing in the bayside of surrounding counties is as high or higher than in SF, not because the Excelsior is a desirable neighborhood.
When interest rates rise and housing prices fall, the cost of housing remains more or less constant. “A correction in price due to interest rates will not make housing more affordable.
Moody’s thinks 1/80 is too low. Try 5% of all homeowners with a mortgage (shocking even to me, somewhat bearish as I am):
Mortgage credit problems are sure to mount further through at least mid-2008. The poorest quality subprime and Alt-A loans originated in 2005 and 2006 will face their first payment resets through next year, at a time when home-price declines are intensifying. These resets will be too large for many borrowers to manage, resulting in an estimated 2.5 million loan defaults during 2007-08, equal to some 5% of all homeowners with a mortgage.
Yeah, I took the $400b and assumed a $500K home, which is too high to generalize accross the country. But not all homeowners have mortgages, not all homeowners with mortgages are subprime, so there is some flex there.
While the figure at the level of 1/80 of all homes will be impacted by the ARM crisis might be too low, 5% is also too high.
My bet is that lenders were offering the poorest quality subprime loans to those not seeking a jumbo loan, rather to more pedestrian balances.
Wow, what a bizarre thread! Beer bellied tourists, population statistics, Bohemian artists fleeing, Victorians fighting with Edwardians? You never know what you will end up reading when you click on a subject and I for one like that. I think what is great about 1234 Howard is that despite its faults, it is what we should be seeing a lot more of in this city and its design and location help to create this type of conversation and creative thinking. Why could this not be built out in the Sunset or the Richmond btw? I think there are still huge parts of this city where in-fill housing is needed and would be more affordable.
a couple of points. The poulation OF SF ahs been decreasing. This is a fact. And posting a wikipedia article that projects new population numbers jsut doesn’t cut it.
Supply is up on two fronts: THere is more inventory. and more housing is being built at a faster rate than anytiome in the past 30 yrs
Demand is down: population down: access to mortgages down.
Only one way for prices to go..
also, i love that SF has the cmbo of victoria, edwardian and downtown living. as far as SOMA goes, i wouldn’t live there because it is an eyesore and crime is out of control.
And i will say again that I think the desing o fthis building is really gross.
“Why could this not be built out in the Sunset or the Richmond btw?”
Because there is an unwritten political compact that the Mayor needs the westside to get elected and the power brokers in the west side are vehemently against any sort of housing in their neighborhoods due to the impacts it would allegedly cause.
“I think there are still huge parts of this city where in-fill housing is needed and would be more affordable.”
Pure speculation, much evidence to the contrary. Either refute it quantitatively or acknowledge it.
[Editor’s Note: Speaking of infill…]
“Further, with the credit crisis, inflation driven by rising oil prices and the lack of the ability of the fed to use fiscal policy to guide the economy, we will see all sorts of instability in the market for luxury housing.”
News flash marc, the Fed controls monetary policy, not fiscal policy. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that you didn’t know that given the statistics that you are making up on the fly here. My favorite is “While the figure at the level of 1/80 of all homes will be impacted by the ARM crisis might be too low, 5% is also too high.”
Are you just pulling numbers out of a hat?
Wow, Thanks Socketsite Editor for that link. (Speaking of infill) That is usefull information that I did not know existed online. I used to live in Europe (London), and although this city may be dense by American standards, it is very spacious and open feeling compared to where I grew up in the U.K.
“couple of points. The poulation OF SF ahs been decreasing. This is a fact. And posting a wikipedia article that projects new population numbers jsut doesn’t cut it.”
The only hard count of the population of SF is the 2000 Census, which showed the population of SF was at its highest ever for the Census.
There have been two government agencies that have been estimating the population every year since, using the 2000 Census as a base. The US Census Bureau estimated that the population of SF dropped from 776k to 739k from 2000 to 2005, but that the population of SF increased from 2005 to 2006 to 744k (still lower than in 2000, but now increasing). The State of California (Department of Finance) also does population estimates for every county in California. The state uses these population figures to help calculate the state budget. The State of California Dept. of Finance estimates that the current population of S.F. has surpassed 2000 by a substantial margin, and now exceeds 808k. This data is available on the State of California Dept. of Finance website as an Excel file– I just linked to a Wikipedia mirror of that data because it is easier to read an html page than to download and open an Excel file.
In any event, the population of SF dipped with the recession of the early 2000’s. Both agencies that estimate S.F.’s population show that that has turned around. The US Census Bureau, however, has shown that SF’s population has only increased slightly since 2005, whereas the State of California data shows that S.F.’s population has been increasing more robustly.
No one knows which estimate is more accurate– that won’t be settled until the next actual count in 2010.
However, the decreasing rental vacancy rates (which had increased greatly after the recession earlier in the decade) further supports that the population is again increasing.
Here is an interesting article regarding Bay Area population…
Sure it is going back up, but hardly enough to justify our obscene housing costs. What is interesting is who is moving in, and who is moving out. I believe many with real wealth are leaving the Bay Area while those coming in are foreign born moving here to create wealth.
Yeah, I meant interest rates not tax rates and expenditure rates. My bad, trying to write code and post at the same time.
If interest rates are no longer useful for stimulating or chilling the economy out and if Keynsianism doesn’t work anymore, good luck on anything but a wildly gyrating economy.
I was pulling numbers from the census bureau web site. If the subprime crisis was to be, say $500b in bad loans, then the number of homes in crisis would be $500b/. The Census website had some 80m homes owned in the US. So the percentage of homes in crisis out of total homes would be ($500b/)/80m.
That number would be useful in that it would describe the true depth of the crisis in the owned housing stock. The question is how high would that number need to get in order to see systemic crisis in home price.
And the decennial census is not a hard count, it is a statistical count involving all sorts of estimates.
“I believe many with real wealth are leaving the Bay Area while those coming in are foreign born moving here to create wealth.”
Too many “I believe” in this thread and very little facts, including the original $200/sqft number from the original article.
The formulae in the post of September 13, 2007 2:05 PM got messed up due to HTML.
They are as follows:
I was pulling numbers from the census bureau web site. If the subprime crisis was to be, say $500b in bad loans, then the number of homes in crisis would be $500b/average_national_loan_balance. The Census website had some 80m homes owned in the US. So the percentage of homes in crisis out of total homes would be ($500b/average_national_loan_balance)/80m.
Oh my … quite a lot of rants. I’ll bite … I’ve lived in SF off and on, and now, sadly off, for most of my adult life and honestly I miss the hell out of it. It is expensive because more people like it there than don’t. I recommend that anyone that thinks life is somehow better in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Chapel Hill, (or wherever former SF residents escape to to buy bungalows, mid-century moderns, or a plot of land for a pre-fab from Marmol and Radziner) move and perhaps then they will see that the cost of living, endless traffic, extreme development regulation, and all those tiresome Victorians will never – no matter how hard they try, and pray, and dream – quite outweigh the benefits of life in SF.
Heart, San Francisco is in a very mean phase right now.
Marc wrote: “And the decennial census is not a hard count, it is a statistical count involving all sorts of estimates.”
The decennial US Census is often referred to as “the Hard Count” http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Count-Political-Challenges-Mobilization/dp/087154363X
because it *is* a hard count.
The US Supreme Court in 1999 banned the use of statistical sampling in coming up with the actual population count, which is used to determine Congressional districting. Sampling is allowed for demographics.
How are the windows behind the louvers cleaned….?
“How are the windows behind the louvers cleaned….?”
I wonder about this also. One of the great difficulties with some modern designs is that they don’t take well to age. What on some older structures can look like a charming patina on this structure would just look horrible. With the auto exhaust pollution mixed with damp fog conditions, these louvers could be very unattractive if they are not cleaned at least one time a month. This will be an intersting structure to watch over time to see how the “reality” of this building really developes after owners install drapes and other devices for privacy, and after weather and time take their toll on the flashy exterior.
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