201 Folsom (LUMINA) Rising

Tishman Speyer is quietly exploring the possibility of merging up to twelve three-bedroom units atop the two towers rising at 201 Folsom Street (a.k.a. LUMINA).

At the extreme, the eight three-bedroom units across the 41st and 42nd floors of LUMINA’s Tower B could be combined into one mega-duplex measuring over 20,000 square feet, while the four three-bedroom units atop the 37-story Tower D could become a single 9,000-square-foot penthouse, “depending on market demand.”

A merger of fewer units is a possibility as well.  But if the mega-duplex materialized, it would become the largest residence in San Francisco, surpassing the 17,000-square-foot penthouse atop the St. Regis at 188 Minna, which itself was a merger of three units and sold for a record-setting $28 million in 2011, having been foreclosed upon earlier that year and listed for $70 million in 2008.

Tishman is also exploring the possibility of adding private roof decks for the penthouse units atop LUMINA’s towers.

And according to a recently drafted letter from San Francisco’s Zoning Administrator to Tishman’s counsel, the roof decks and select unit mergers would generally conform with the plans for the 201 Folsom Street development as originally approved (i.e., they would likely be approved as well).

So if you’re in the market for a “24-bedroom” penthouse, or even a more modest “12-bedroom” unit, stay tuned and do let us know.

UPDATE: A potential 15,000-square-foot duplex atop Tower B has been priced at $49 million.

83 thoughts on “Mega Condos Could Top Two San Francisco Towers, Set A Record”
  1. Oh geez! Why don’t we just start building waterfront palaces for the richest of the rich? Whenever I think that we have reached the height of extreme excess for those with money – someone tops it! Just for once I would like to read a story about housing being built for the middle class. How do our teachers live here? Our housing priorities are cheap rentals, BMR housing or homes that you too can have for $1.5 million and up.

    1. Grace I feel your pain but have you not been paying attention? EVERY residential development in SF is fought by locals. Too big, too dense, too tall, too much shadow, too much parking, not enough parking, too many bay windows, too bland, too bold, will block my view, I was here first…. Of course housing is unaffordable. What other outcome could be expected?

      1. You forgot “too many white residents” which, for Sup. Campos, is apparently sufficient reason to simply ban new housing in part of the Mission District. In the mind of a “Progressive”, nothing will help house the middle class like banning housing construction entirely.

        1. I’d love to see campos’ reaction when he hears about these! It’s like reality check: don’t complain about $1mil condos in the mish; the real wealth is in these uber penthouses.

          1. I love how Mayor Ed Lee is tossing around the idea of putting private developers’ offsite affordable housing in Oakland because there is such an uproar from “housing advocates” over every single piece of development. Of course Mayor Libby of Oakland is rubbing her hands with glee. So am I.

          2. ^Amewsed
            Um…I don’t think any SF politician has said that (nor why would they ever say that, it’s SF money).

          3. Do a google search for the article, “Advocates bristle at mayor’s pitch to put SF’s Affordable Housing in Oakland,” San Francisco Business Journal dated February 23, 2015.

    2. I’m not sure how it’s being done for this building, but generally developers have to put either units or money towards subsidized housing when building high end towers. That is one of a few ways we are trying to deal with the housing affordability problem for the middle class. So to answer your question, build 10 more super expensive buildings and we will have more housing for teachers.

      [Editor’s Note: Of the 190 units Tishman is building at 1400 Mission Street, 164 will be Below Market Rate (“BMR”) to fulfill the affordability requirement associated with 201 Folsom.]

      1. The middle class I am talking about do not qualify for BMR housing. The BMR figures would work if you lived in Ohio but they are way too low for the city of SF. A teacher and non-profit attorney make slightly too much to qualify but too little to be able to afford to live here. Homes and condos in the Bayview are going for $850,000. I’m looking for units that can house a small family and can be purchased for $400 – 500k. Closest place to find that? Santa Rosa.

        I think the city is going to have to subsidize with reduced loans or create a new middle class category for housing.

        1. What was your major in college?


          Yeah, the taxpayers of SF need to give $$$$ to teachers and attorneys. If the teachers and attorneys of SF want taxpayer $$$, let them go pry it out of the $200 million per year we give to the line of “homeless” folks who keep moving here.

          Let’s set it up as a public spectacle, like the old Gladiator fights! Homeless advocates and “middle class” SF’ers fighting over a pile of taxpayer $$$ at AT&T Park. We’d get capacity crowds!

        2. Grace, even if you can qualify for BMR housing, it does not mean you will get a BMR. There are a long line for BMR, most of the qualified BMR buyers or renters have no chance. There is a lottery.

          Most likely there will never be enough BMR for the people who do qualify. By definition, 50% of the population have an income below the median income. How can it be possible to supply 50% of the housing as BMR?

          Not only Grace is not eligible for BMR housing, but Grace needs to pay tax to build BMRs for lower income folks. BMR is not falling from the sky. BMR comes from your wallet.

    3. These are super luxury residences, which is a type of housing a teacher could never afford in San Francisco–not now, not 60 years ago. And, 60 years ago, and before, there were certainly super luxury residences being built in San Francisco. Do you think many teachers ever lived in the Art Deco penthouses on Nob Hill or in the mansions of Pacific and Presidio Heights?

      Of course the need for affordable housing is an important issues to address, but I am not sure your post has much relevance here. There are certainly less luxurious and much cheaper places being built in San Francisco proper and in the surrounding municipalities. Picking the most extreme example of glitzy housing and then acting as if it is the only type of housing being built is a bit disingenuous, and more importantly, it does not thoughtfully contribute to a discuss about how to create more affordable housing in San Francisco.

    4. People who own $25,000,000 mansions usually own a few.

      It’s not going to be SROs, and functionally it’s mostly just tax revenue for SF. Not like they’re going to take up 20 parking spots on the street. Probably be some tech titan’s SF residence when he’s not in Atherton. It would solve FB’s privacy problem quickly.

    5. I’d rather they build “extra” units like this for the super rich than have them continue to put pressure on the existing inventory, thus raising those prices and, therefore, on the prices of slightly more modest homes, etc., etc. down the chain.

      On the other hand, the 20,000 sq ft thing seems silly. I’ve long thought most buildings, including office buildings, should include penthouses, and not just for ultra wealthy. More buildings with penthouses like the one in the Tenderloin covered in other threads on Socketsite would be a good thing. I’ve never understood why developers don’t use the roof space, with terraces and solariums, on tall buildings to squeeze out some more $$$$. I guess it makes the mechanicals harder to deal with???

  2. I heard the listing prices are going to be $50M for the 2 story penthouse and $25M for the 1 story penthouse. Looks real affordable..

    If I had to guess, this is probably what’s going to happen with their new proposed 160 Folsom building..except by then it’ll probably be $50M-100M for the top penthouses, being only 1 block from the waterfront and having unobstructed views.

        1. BMR people get in but they can’t afford the HOA’s on places like this. They need to move out the BMR people.

    1. To my knowledge this development does not come with an independent deeded parking space. Use of the valet is mandatory which is a bummer.

      1. It’ll come with parking for 12 bikes. I like the idea of the super-rich getting around by bike, possibly a “bicycle built for two” with an athlete employed to do the peddling.

      1. For screen-clutching ubers yes. But, for the resurgence of the city for families — they will want homes, not transitional cramped condos (which is what most of the construction is, not all). All in time as the city moves towards high rise living.Watch what happens as we mature.

        1. There’s no “resurgence of the city for families”. The percentage of SF residents under the age of 18 is declining and has been for about 50 years. In the past decade there has been a small increase in the percentage under the age of 5, but it has been more than made up by the decline in the percentage of school age children.

          There is a very clear pattern of families with multiple children being priced out of SF by wealthier people that either do not have children or who have very young children and then they move out of SF as their children approach school age.

  3. *Is a tech CEO*
    *works at a cubicle or open shared space by day*
    *sleeps in a 24-bedroom, 20k+ sq ft, $50M penthouse by night*

  4. This is great. Give us some ultra wealthy units. Maybe this will raise the profile of lesser units and cause price appreciation!!

    1. Thank you. Finally someone who knows that “more supply” of luxury buildings like this are causing higher prices, not lower.

  5. For 50 million, does one get one’s own elevator? A personal parking attendant?
    12 parking spots will be just about right for the staff necessary to keep the place ship shape.

  6. Similar condo was foreclosed and the [loser] was a local real estate developer. Market for SF mega condo is not proven. I am not sure if it is a good idea at all.

    Super expensive homes in suburbs had better fate. Maybe the richest likes to live Hillsborough instead of SF. Manhattan and London both have many super wealthy residents, SF still do not.

    “Purchased for roughly $30,000,000 as a raw shell in 2005 by local real estate developer Victor MacFarlane, listed for $70,000,000 in 2008, and last asking $49,000,000 having finished an uberexpensive five year renovation, the 20,000 square foot penthouse atop San Francisco’s St. Regis at 188 Minna has been deeded back to Bank of America in lieu of foreclosure and is returning to the market priced at $35,000,000.

    As a prescient plugged-in reader wrote in 2009: “I wonder if this place will win the prize for, “Most expensive foreclosure in the city.” That would be a bingo!”

    1. You’re wrong about SF not having “super wealthy resident.” Just last week there was an item about the numbers of “super wealthy residents” (defined as assets of at least $30 Mill.) in cities of the World and SF was 5th, and by far the smallest population.

      1. That’s true but so far they don’t seem to prefer living in high rises as much as single family mansions in Pac Heights.

        1. That might have more to do with a lack of true high rise penthouses than personal preference. Also, we are one of the few American cities where you can have amazing views from a house that’s located close to the city center while avoiding the hassles that come with a valet only garage.

      1. My former employer lives in a large single family home in Pacific Heights, not on Billionaires row, but a nice home with beautiful views. He needed to hire valets to park guests’ cars whenever there was a cocktail or big dinner party. As a guest, it felt weird standing in the street for 10 minutes waiting for the valet to get your cars.

  7. Interesting. The NYT just had a fascinating series of articles about ultra high end real estate transactions in NYC sheltered by shell corporations which obscured the identity of the buyers. The gist of the article was that these buyers were Russian, Chinese mafia with “funny” money that needed to be removed from the old country. It was placed in NY real estate. The real estate agents and buildings never questioned the origin of this money. It seems like this is the SF answer to helping our persecuted Russian and Chinese oligarchs get their money out of Dodge.

  8. I doubt the developer will actually do the merge. Eight 3-bedroom condos will sell much faster than a 20k sf mega condo in a normal market. Is the developer having a hard time to sell 3-bedroom condos at $4-5 million a piece? Could be a desperate move to grab attentions and sell other units faster.

  9. It’s a publicity stunt so that they can say they have the highest priced unit in the city, probably includes plans and permits to combine if they want to but Tishman isn’t going to combine the units and sell it as one unit. Anyone spending that kind of money would want to completely redo it to their own taste.

  10. The ideal buyer would be a Howard Hughes type – unimaginable amounts of money, plus severe OCD that requires you to have your own entire top floor to avoid germs from others.

        1. Maybe the solution is an elevator shaft with two cars, one above the other, the private car stored at the top of the shaft at the penthouse and only used for the penthouse owner. When he wants to go, his car rides down to the lobby while the public car lowers into the basement for a few moments (in a sort of mechanical grovel, of course).

          1. Although that is cleaver and I’ve always wondered why in some office buildings it wouldn’t make more sense to run the elevators in one tube going up and a different tube going down. More cars per tube. I suppose there could be a traffic jam of sorts, but it’s easy to think of ways around that. And in modern buildings, the predictive elevator control is already a computational dream.

          2. Apologies to Amewsed. I said “he” because I was thinking “Howard Hughes type”.

            Frog, there is such a thing, but the problem is the cars backing up. Some clever Germans have taken it one step further and use Maglev instead of tracks.

            You’ll notice in their animation, though, that the cars don’t stop. If they did, you’d get backup. It turns out people hate it when they’re in an elevator that stops and waits. Maybe we’d get used to it in time…

  11. I have no problem with topping a building off with a $50 million condo. The annual property taxes alone, will make it worth it for the city.

    1. Yup, the key is to find a person to deems SF to be desirable enough to plunk down the money. Would be sad if the unit is put on the market only to find no one wants it. All dressed up for the prom and no date.

  12. Why would any wealthy person want to live at Folsom and Main? There’s literally nothing to do or see in that neighborhood.

  13. Tishman is based in NYC, so they are keenly aware of the mega-apartments that are being gobbled up by the world’s billionaires. In fact, New York is currently in a building frenzy to fill this need. (Prediction: They are building more billionaire apartments than there are billionaires, so a crash is coming.) At any rate, they are probably testing the waters to see if the billionaires are interested in San Francisco. My guess is that there are Far East/Chinese oligarchs who will want these apartments, rather than houses.

    1. Developers are probably hedging against overbuilding mega-apartments by ensuring that the hard details of the basic floorplan, systems(plumbing, electrical), etc. are done in a way that makes it feasible to subdivide a mega-apt into smaller units. If done right conversion is just a matter of building a few non load bearing walls, adding exterior entries, and uncapping the kitchen plumbing stubs.

  14. with the housing crisis the way it is, I see this only as something to further increase the gap between the haves and have-nots.

    1. This does nothing to increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots. This increases the gap between the have-incredible-amounts and the have-unimaginable-amounts. But see my comment way above (and the editor’s link) building these high end buildings is directly leading to construction of mid-income housing as well. We have a system in place to make sure we are building at both ends of the spectrum. Let it work.

  15. On second thought, super rich people also need a place to live. It is fine if they want to live in SF. We have no right to reject a super rich newcomer based on his or her wealth.

  16. The higher percentage of BMRs are built, the more expensive the market rate housing. When you have 30% housing goes to BMR, you have 30% less housing for open market. That can increase the market price by a huge amount.

  17. SFPD had better clean up SOMA if we’re going to have international billionaires living there. That area is nothing like Midtown Manhattan.

    It will be interesting when the next megaquake hits and none of the first responders are in San Francisco because they cannot afford to live here. The way they’ve been treated, I seriously doubt any would make the effort to reach to city just to save the people who enthusiastically pushed them out.

    1. Even if the first responders wanted to aid SF, they might not be able to get in. Nearly every way in and out of SF will be severed for the first few days: ferries, bridges, tunnels, freeways, etc. Now is the time to plan how you, your family, and neighbors will handle the first week after the Big One.

      1. My point is that if they could afford to live here, we would be safer as a city. Nobody is going to help us considering how we’ve behaved since the recession.

        1. Ummm… Produced lots of jobs, reduced crime, improved medical technology, public sector jobs with fat fat pensions and retirement medical benefits.

          But Oh No, let’s let the city crumble becuase we have to commute to work???

          1. stop driving has a a point though even if first responders could get into SF after the Big One many will be likely to stay in their home counties and aid efforts around their own neighborhoods. I doubt that there is “SF spite” in play, just the natural reaction to help your own home neighborhood.

    2. Puleeze – do you know how much firefighters make?

      And some of them do not even live anywhere near the city – I personally know of fire fighters who live in Chicago and Ireland (?) – They only work a few days a month – the rest of the time they are not even in the state.

      It’s ironic that they get high salaries to be able to afford to live in the city and then decide not to.

  18. I was here during the 89 quake and I assure you, “stop driving” is right. While the Peninsula was up and running after 24 hours, our power, water and gas took many days to get restored. One of the issues was the difficulty for utility service vehicles to easily access areas of the city. With the Bay Bridge and most freeways closed, we were truly living on an island for a couple of weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *