75 Howard Site

As we wrote a year ago, an application had been filed to raze the eight-story and 550 space parking garage at 75 Howard Street and build a 284-foot building with 160 condos.

We now have the details and design for the proposed tower, the height of which has risen to 350 feet and 31 stories with 186 condos over a ground floor restaurant, café, and 175 underground parking spaces accessed from Howard Street.

The project also includes landscaping and paving improvements, resulting in a new 4,780 squre foot landscaped and publicly accessible open space in the triangle at the end of the block. Steuart Street south of Howard would be narrowed and on-street parking would be eliminated along with the turnaround bulb at the southern terminus of the street.

75 Howard Street Site

The proposed 31-story tower’s design consists of two main elements, a horizontal podium surmounted by a vertical tower:

75 Howard Street Elevation

The 7-story (82-foot-tall) horizontal podium element would be built to its Howard Street (north) and Steuart Street (east) property lines, and it would be set back from the south property line by about 18 feet and from the west property line by about 3 feet. The podium element would measure about 153 feet from east to west and 116 feet from north to south. The ground and second stories would be recessed about one to six feet from the wall plane of the podium above, forming a high, continuous band of glazing at the ground floor and second floor across a portion of the north façade, all of the east façade, and part of the south façade. These setbacks are intended to define a transparent, pedestrian-oriented ground and second floor, with a horizontal podium volume above, provide additional sidewalk space along Howard Street and Steuart Street, and provide additional space for the café garden and common open space along the south façade.

The 24-story vertical tower element together with the 7-story podium would rise a total of 31 stories (350 feet tall, plus an additional 6 feet for rooftop screening and mechanical enclosures). The tower element would be nearly square in plan, measuring about 114 feet from east to west and 109 feet from north to south. It would be set back from the podium element below by about 2 feet from the podium’s north façade, 23 feet from the podium’s east façade, 5 feet from the podium’s south façade, and 16 feet from the podium’s west façade. However, floor 8 (the terrace level), the lowest floor within the tower element, would be further set back from the tower wall plane above it along the north and south facades to accentuate the transition between the podium and tower elements and to articulate each of these elements as distinct from each other.

The building would likely be clad in glass and stone (granite or limestone), ranging from light to medium grey. Two variants for the proposed tower are also on the boards, a Public Parking Variant and a proposed Residential / Hotel Mixed Use Variant.

The proposed Public Parking Variant would provide an additional 96 non-accessory public off-street parking spaces, for a total of 271 parking spaces, to partially offset the 550 public spaces lost by demolition of the 75 Howard Garage. All 271 parking spaces would be located in stacked mechanical spaces on Basement Level 2 within the proposed 26,701-gsf parking garage.

The proposed Residential / Hotel Mixed Use Variant would provide a mix of residential units and hotel rooms within the high-rise tower. Hotel rooms would be located on floors 3 through 7 and floors 10 through 12, and residential units would be located on floors 13 through 31. This variant would also include space on floors 8 and 9 for hotel registration, a hotel restaurant, spa services, and other hotel amenity space. Under this variant, approximately 109 residential units and 82 hotel rooms with associated hotel amenity space would be constructed.

As always, we’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

UPDATE: As a plugged-in reader quickly notes, the 75 Howard site is currently zoned for up to 200 feet and implementation of the proposed project would require the adoption of legislative amendments to reclassify the height limit to 350 feet.

We’ll also add the unit mix of the proposed project includes 16 studio units, 39 one-bedroom units, 97 two-bedroom units, 29 three-bedroom units, and 5 four-plus bedroom units.

33 thoughts on “Designs For A 350-Foot Tower To Rise At 75 Howard Street”
  1. I received the Notice of Preparation of an EIR for 75 Howard from the Planning Department in the mail last night. This site appears to be zoned for a 200 foot height. This developer wants an additional 150 feet. An upzoning of this nature on the waterfront is going to encounter considerable pushback.

  2. My wife and baby like to park there and go to the ferry bld sometimes. Darn.
    I have to be honest though, I wondered why there was a parking garage with those beautiful views and figured this was inevitable.

  3. There is a parking structure there because the bay side of the struction was occupied by the double-decked Embarcadero Freeway. There were no views when the garage was built.
    And I agree the height will be an issue but it absolutely should not be. The Rincon towers apartments next door are 240 feet tall. Most of the buildings within two blocks are as tall or taller than the proposed building. No public views are going to be blocked except the views of existing buildings.

  4. Wow, this is going to really hurt the value of northeast and southeast views at the Infinity because of all the extra supply – views here are going to be phenomenal and the location is better than Infinity (further from the bridge noise, closer to water, more places to walk to nearby).

  5. ^ I really doubt just one more luxury residential building is going to hurt the values of any nearby luxury residential buildings, seeing as housing demand is perpetually far above supply in SF…not to mention the Infinity’s location is very desirable, which is not a thing that can be changed by another tower getting built…it will never be anything but expensive.
    And I’m glad to see this is taller than the current height limit at that location, I hope it gets approved. It’s silly that some people think this is too tall when it’s in the middle of downtown, and SF already has multiple 350’+ towers along the water front (and multiple 200′-300′ towers on the waterfront adjacent to this location). No one is going to be losing views, except for some office workers and some residents of the Rincon tower across the street. This building will make the skyline look nicer to people walking along the embarcadero, or on treasure island, and people on the bridge/taking ferries…and we need all the housing we can get. Build it!

  6. this tower will never be built in its current form. it’s crazy that the developers have to waste money over-proposing, knowing that the real building they want will only come about if it’s seen as coming about as a compromise. maddening.

  7. Like. Perfect height.
    The Gap tower? Its proportions were all off for such a grand waterfront location anyway. It’s no barometer. It seemed truncated back then. Even John King agrees.
    “Instead of soaring to the heavens, this 15-story tower clad in brick and stone looks like it dropped from the sky and fell back on its rump. It’s squat and stiff.”
    Squat and stiff — like many of our buildings. There’s still that lingering 80s fear of ‘Manhattanization’ height thing going on.

  8. “I don’t think there are multiple 350’+ towers along the water front. Embarcadero Center is probably the only one.” -Wai Yip Tung
    I see you want to be ultra precise about things…in that case, there is not a single skyscraper directly on the waterfront, nor are there any planned. We have One Market Plaza which includes the 564′ spear tower and the 364′ Steuart tower, both of which are around 200-150 meters from the bay, respectively. Then you have four Embarcadero center which is 570′ tall, and around 150 meters from the bay as well. Then you have the Infinity towers at 350′ and 400′ tall, which are also around 200 meters from the bay. Then of course there’s also Rincon Plaza at around 250′-300′ tall, across the street from this proposal, and the gap building at 275′, down the block from this proposal, both of which are around 100-150 meters from the bay. By comparison, this proposed tower would also be roughly 100-150 meters from the Bay, so it’s still within the same range from the bay as all the other existing towers that are closest to the waterfront (100-200 meters away).
    In other words, this location seems perfectly fine/normal for a 350′ tower, judging by the heights of all the towers directly around it and along the waterfront. It wouldn’t really create any more of a “wall” along the bay than what already exists (and if there’s anywhere along the bay where a “wall” is appropriate/already existent, this is it). And getting rid of parking garages and adding housing is always great.
    Tons of cities have skyscrapers along parts of their waterfronts, including SF, it’s puzzling why some people think it’s such a horrible thing that needs to be stopped, especially when we’re talking about what…2% of SF’s total waterfront area, within downtown no less, that has/will have more highrises? It’s not like this thing is being proposed for Fisherman’s wharf, or the marina or something.

  9. As for whether this new tower will diminish the values of some other units by blocking views, that may be true. But the lost value will be repaid in the form of bringing more residents and more life to this neighborhood. This area was a dead zone in the evenings just a couple of decades ago. Now it is becoming a real residential neighborhood.

  10. I wonder how this affects the SFMTA’s outlook of traffic & parking in the area if/when the new Arena gets built. How many hundreds less parking would be available? Not to mention the hundreds of additional commuters?

  11. Mixed feelings.
    Upsides: Great to have more residential units added to the city’s supply. Great move to motivate people to take public transit into downtown instead of drive (by destroying the parking garage).
    Downside: Not an appealing architectural design, it looks uninspired and boring.
    I don’t mind another high rise on the waterfront, there are lots of them there already. It is the Financial District, after all, and its where the city’s most dense development has been for decades.
    Just please don’t make it ugly – this is San Francisco, not East Berlin.

  12. @cbf
    My definition of waterfront building is the first large building from the shoreline. Its precise distance from the water is less important than whether it is in the front row because of its prominent effect on the cityscape. I prefer to see the skyline stepping up rather than a solid wall of tall building lining up the shore and blocks everything behind it. That is just a matter of aesthetics.
    One Market Plaza is behind Hotel Vitale and Infinity is behind Hills plaza so I don’t consider them waterfront. If this proposed building can simply swap place with the shorter building next door, I’d find it more acceptable. I’m not against tall building per se I just don’t like a skyline dominate by one particular building.

  13. “I’m not against tall building per se I just don’t like a skyline dominate by one particular building.”
    Ever hear of the Transamerica Building, the Freedom Tower, the CNN Tower, the Space Needle?
    Hopefully, the addition of residents in this area will create more of a 24/7 draw than a 6pm desert, and also bring with it more amenities, like grocery stores, so people can actually walk versus drive from their parking caves to another parking cave. Manhattanization isn’t necessarily an evil threat to a city. Certainly beats the SanJose-ification of Mission Bay.

  14. Curious about the plans to include a hotel – doesn’t San Francisco have a glut of hotel rooms? Maybe a hotel in this area would prove to be more popular than the ones on Nob Hill, which seem to have trouble bringing in enough customers.

  15. @Wai, my point is that most cities have a particular structure that stands out from the rest, usually because of its height. The proposed structure isn’t going to really shift the dynamics that much in the area. Sure, it will piss off people in nearby buildings if they lose their precious views, but as we’ve read in similar posts on this site views aren’t guaranteed. All it takes is an additional story or two to the building next door to end those views.

  16. “I prefer to see the skyline stepping up rather than a solid wall of tall building lining up the shore and blocks everything behind it. That is just a matter of aesthetics.”
    Thanks Wai, agree completely.
    If my recall is correct, other cities with reps for good city planning – Vancouver, B.C. comes to mind – have zoning or other regs that call for a bit of a step effect approaching the waterfront.

  17. @GoodBuyBadTimes
    A couple years ago there was a great story that compared SF and Vancouver. Let me see if I can dig it up for you. Here it is…from SPUR published in 2003.
    I live in the Sunset/Parkside area which was developed after the Twin Peaks Tunnel opened up the area starting in the 1920s. I basically live in an early version of suburbia…two-story homes (really one story built above a garage and entryway). Can you imagine the density potential lost by this type of development.

  18. “Density potential?” Ugh the tripe that parades for planning speak these days.
    I see a direct lack of correlation between density and potential, but then I’m not a stucco developer hack who knows that after a few floors, its all profit.
    And that is the only reason that density is a buzzword these days in these parts.
    Canyon City, coming soon to a San Francisco near you.

  19. @Mark, so you think this proposed tower is worthy of iconic landmark status like the Transamerica? Nothing of its design seems to standout for me. It isn’t even close to being the tallest residential building. And a lot of what you say about the density is irrelevant. Nobody here suggest to keep the density low. Whether it is 10, 20 or 30 stories, there are plenty of density around and there are many towers like the Millenium nearby. The objection is how this one building being on the waterfront would affect the skyline of San Francisco.
    Here is another aerial picture that show the waterfront buildings. Contrary to what some posters say there is no really high building fronting the Embarcadero other than Four Embarcadero. Hyatt Regency and the Gap building seems to be the second and third tallest. The lower building give the skyline a nice stepping effect. Event the Gap building has taken care to design with step back so that the Embarcadero side of the building is only a few stories high.

  20. ” doesn’t San Francisco have a glut of hotel rooms?”
    I actually thought the exact opposite but I guess it’s all perspective. After living 4.5 years in soma (i.e. blocks away from Moscone Convention Center), it seems I hear about how “every room in SF is booked,” for the convention/conference of the week, and how late registrants are staying near SFO or in Marin/East Bay hotels, especially when convention season meets summer and it’s influx of tourists. Knowing that the convention schedule is seasonal and number of attendees vary greatly (I heard there were over 75K attendees at Dreamforce this year), I’m sure there are gaps (i.e. like now for the Holidays), where are there is a glut (minus the shoppers).

  21. “Curious about the plans to include a hotel – doesn’t San Francisco have a glut of hotel rooms?”
    SF is on pace to set new highs in occupancy rate and daily room rate in 2012. SF has the second highest occupancy rate in the U.S. after New York, yet we have almost no new hotels in the pipeline, while NY has plenty on the way.

  22. Thanks, JL. Great data.
    I guess you could always look at the numbers airbnb has put out there as another data point/measure of demand (or demand for cheaper alternatives to hotels): I think I recall hearing over 5K listings and approximately 1200 of them were active at any given time in SF earlier this year.

  23. For a large conference this Spring, SF hotels average $300/night, up at least 25% from the same conference 4 years ago.

  24. Once the density potential of San Francisco is fully exploited, it will be a very different place to live. I really do wonder about the planning philosophy that seem to think the over-riding goal should be to cram in as many people as possible per square foot. If I wanted to live in Manhattan, I would move there.

  25. I think this will make a great fit by the bay. Especially with the The Infinity towers in the back and the two new ones at 201 Folsom,Tishman Speyer tower, being built a block away.

  26. Walling off the waterfront is not desirable and I’ve seen cities ruin them by building big ugly buildings, but done tastefully, and by staggering buildings, it can be agreat thing. I think this is a good proposal. SF needs more peaks in its skyline.

  27. San Francisco needs affordable housing above all else yet all that ever seems to be built is plain looking high-rises priced in the luxury category. They say the million dollar fees these developers pay to build their towers for the affluent are the fuel that build housing for the middle class. …Yeah really? …Where are they?

    The dozen or so giant blocks of concrete currently going up won’t do a thing for San Francisco except add to our new unenviable ranking as being the most expensive large city in the country to live in.

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