With the re-skinning and conversion of 100 Van Ness Avenue from an office building to 400 apartments underway, the Emerald Fund has quietly submitted plans to raze the adjacent 108-foot building at 150 Van Ness and build a new 12-story, 120-foot tall building stretching all the way from Van Ness to Polk along Hayes Street.

In addition to the 150 Van Ness parcel on the corner, the proposed half city block project would cover the four adjacent surface parking lots and yield 429 new apartments over 9,000 square feet of retail and an underground garage with parking for 218 cars and 211 bikes.


The propose unit mix for the 429-unit development is currently 112 two-bedrooms with the rest one-bedrooms and studios. As always, we’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by ejay

    It is a shame this lot has only a 120 height limit – so close to all that public transportation..and other tall buildings.

  2. Posted by RealQ

    Ha. I still see the old Grubb & Ellis sign on the building in this photo.

  3. Posted by Mickey

    The article refers to “apartments” – is Emerald committing to rentals (vs. condos) at this point, or is that something they decide later based on market interest?

  4. Posted by Rob

    It’d be great to see something similar to The Marlow on this lot… vs just another huge glass wall.

  5. Posted by Gregg

    This is great news. That building is way past its prime and is merely an eyesore at this point. Happy to see it will get the boot. I just hope that the replacement structure has some real character, and doesn’t look like yet another boring East Berlin Project like everything in Mission Bay.

  6. Posted by anon

    Good news, though another case of underbuilding. Why in the world should this lot be limited to 120′?

  7. Posted by Joe

    What is the height limit on that property? Maybe 120′ is the max that can go there.

  8. Posted by Legacy Dude

    This is undeniably one of the ugliest buildings in the city – looks like Eastern Bloc architecture circa 1974 melted onto a grey cube. Would be great if somebody came up with a large, modern design to replace it with.
    Then it can get shot down via referendum of 8% of the city, who doesn’t want this idyllic part of town being turned into more luxury condos for the rich. And the 80% of the city that doesn’t even bother to vote can continue bitching about how high their rents are.

  9. Posted by EJ

    There’s a nice 1910-1920s era building under all the green and blue cladding. At one time, not long after AAA moved out, there was a proposal to restore it.

  10. Posted by lyqwyd

    I believe I nominated this building for the ugliest in SF some years ago…
    I’m glad to hear about it being developed, but agree it should be taller, and surprised if they will be able to raze the building. Isn’t there a pretty historic building under that ugly facade?

  11. Posted by anon

    @Joe – that’s my point. The 120′ height limit for this property makes less than zero sense. Shouldn’t have a height limit lower than 400′ at a minimum.

  12. Posted by S

    the height limit may have something to do with the high winds on that stretch – I know some zoning has to do with effects tall buildings have on funneling high winds

  13. Posted by BobN

    I like taller housing, but it’s a shame they have to be that close to each other.

  14. Posted by Mike

    I have always hated that hideous building. Great news.

  15. Posted by JWS

    Part of me cringes to see such a huge parcel so short. Right now, there is plenty of land available in the Mid-Market area, but 5 years from now when the neighborhood will inevitably be something completely different and very popular, those lots will all be gone. This is a substantial number of units, which will really help especially if they are rentals. I’m just glad something is moving forward, but especially since it’s not a re-skin I am disappointed it’s not taller.
    In the distant future, when all the 300-400+ foot zones are built up, this neighborhood will look amazing. But it’s my understanding that outside of the lot next to the All-Star Donut Shop, none of those are interested in selling/developing just yet.

  16. Posted by curmudgeon

    I also thought there was a proposal to restore the original, which was “skinned” in the 50’s or 60’s. However, after seeing the link that EJ attached, it doesn’t look like there was ever much of interest except for the great Mission style doorway..and it looks like most of that was probably destroyed when the cladding was put on. So…reluctantly…tear it down.

  17. Posted by Zig

    Funny I find this building as more attractive than some of the new buildings I see being built in Upper Market. It is more attractive than the building being proposed on Valencia and 21st

  18. Posted by Invented

    “This is undeniably one of the ugliest buildings in the city”
    Reskinned circa 1960s?
    Where are the apartments FOR GROWING FAMILIES?

  19. Posted by EJ

    The first floor interior was still intact the last time I went in to AAA pick up a map (in those days we wore onions on our belts). It was an odd, somewhat grand contrast to the glassy exterior.

  20. Posted by bruiteur

    There are actually some beautiful interiors remaining that were untouched by the facadicide in the 1960s (vault ceilings, columns and Mediterranean detailing).

  21. Posted by Rob

    This building would be a great candidate for removing the curtain wall and restoring the exterior, similar to what was done at the old de Young building on Market (now the Ritz). I also recall that the rather grand lobby (and maybe more) is intact, and you can see through the glass spandrel panels that the original rusticated stucco siding and window openings are still there. It would be an excellent contrast in early 20th/early 21st century bulding to have this brought back next door to the newly skinned 100 VN. Also, it doesn’t seem necessary to tear down the old building since they’re not building a lot higher – just step it back on the rear lot if you need more height and install a sweet roof deck on the old building.

  22. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Good one EJ. Give me five bees for a quarter!
    The original building isn’t much worth saving. Just a big old masonry box studded with windows and a little detail here and there. The 1930s equivalent of the boring boxes built today. It has a handsome main entry though.
    The zoning on this parcel is a little disappointing but good to have it redeveloped at least.

  23. Posted by pedestrianist

    Having one building per block will suck, and likely maintain Hayes as a dead street until Franklin. Surface parking lots suck too, though. It’s a shame the city has no interest in keeping the individual lots.

  24. Posted by noe mom

    The lobby is a very pleasant surprise from the outside and would be worthy of “adaptive reuse”. It would teach people how to do a lobby as good public space.

  25. Posted by MSTBLD

    The original CAAA building designed by George Kelham in the 1920s in Italian Renaissance Palazzo style was completely decimated by the 1960s modernization which expanded the structure by adding floor and attaching space in the back. It has been examined several times by Page & Turnbull and other preservation architects and found to be unredeamable. Furthermore, it is seismically vulnerable because of the add-ons. It must go.

  26. Posted by Alai

    This would be such a waste if they tore it down, especially since the gain would appear to be minimal. Restore this building, build a nice new taller building on the empty lot, and you’ve got a very nice result.

  27. Posted by Peter

    The interiors under that ugly green facade are quite beautiful and would make a spectacular residential entrance lobby.

  28. Posted by Henry

    They should restore the building before they try to tear it down, since both existing and proposed buildings are of similar height. It has a wonderful facade in the background, and the 1st floor lobby still has its original architectural detailing. Part of the original facade is still intact and can be seen through the monstrosity that covers it. To pay for the restoration, simply do what happened to the De Young building: raise the height limit and build housing above.

  29. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    What is that Mission style building on the same block? The one that fronts Fell Street? I have stopped and stared at it a number of times and can’t figure it out. I think it might have been attached to the tall one being reclad right now at one point, but it must have been something different in the past. A school perhaps? Maybe a Church or something else religious? It is quite nice, too bad it remains unused.
    [Editor’s Note: Lines For A Slender Nine-Story Building [on Fell] Have Been Drawn.]

  30. Posted by mdg

    The lobby is lovely – it’s true.
    Save it for the interior of a new building?
    That should be MUUCCHH taller than 12 stories.

  31. Posted by Rob

    I’m assuming that the air rights above this building have been purchased, which is probably how 100 Van Ness able to rise as tall as it did… resulting in a shorter, maximum allowable height for 150 Van Ness.

  32. Posted by Joseph A

    I thought this was coming since the reskin was only 1 of the 3 buildings in that area ,
    if they are dealing with building # 2 that means are should be looking at a 3rd request to deal with the structure connected by the sky bridge

  33. Posted by Anton

    A lot of people complain about the shortness of this but you cannot glue two 400-foot towers together. The one currently being reskinned is going to have windows and potentially air vents facing this direction. So you need at least some separation between them for those to make any sense. I don’t know if SF has tower spacing requirements but usually they require at least 80 feet between towers on the same block.

  34. Posted by anon

    ^This is for development all the way to Polk. A taller tower portion could easily be built on the Hayes/Polk corner, even if it were just as tall as the Fell/Polk corner.

  35. Posted by $an Franci$co

    Oz build only the prettiest buildings. Potrero Square for instance. Oy.

  36. Posted by soccermom

    It’s no doubt I’ve spent too much time in the SF echo chamber when I am flabbergasted by the following. Meanwhile in New York:
    Extell is building a 1400′ building on west 57th. We can’t build 136′.
    And… families are lauded for collapsing apartmented townhomes into their historic single family state.
    Most of the time an NYT link gets my post deleted but today I feel lucky.

  37. Posted by lyqwyd

    And people wonder why some of us use Manhattan as a model for what we could be doing in SF…

  38. Posted by midmarket

    The building at 50 Fell is turning into a preschool. A preschool in socal has leased the building for 15 years. They will be remodeling the building interiors and are targeting the fall 2014 to open.

  39. Posted by John fagundes

    Yeah, another prosaic glass sheathed building–why not take off the skin and restore the AAA building.
    There is really far too much insipid architecture going up in this gold rush

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