UCSF Laurel Heights Campus

Up until the early 1940s, the parcel upon which UCSF’s current 10-acre Laurel Heights campus was built was part of the Laurel Hill Cemetery.  Transferred to the San Francisco Unified School District, the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company purchased the property from the SFUSD in 1953 and built its corporate headquarters on the site, the existing 350,000-square-foot building which was sold to the University of California in 1985.

Late last year, SKS Partners LLC and Prado Group signed a 99-year ground lease for the campus, the terms of which include a five year leaseback to UCSF.  And while the specific plans for the site haven’t been publicized, a development proposal for mix of housing and retail to rise on the site has been expected.

That being said, SKS Partners and the Prado Group have been quietly exploring at the possibility of remodeling the existing building in order “to prepare the space for new tenants” once UCSF vacates the property.

While the 3333 California site isn’t actually zoned for office use, Section 186 of San Francisco’s Planning Code allows for the continuation of legal, non-conforming uses.  And as such, because the existing buildings on the site were lawfully constructed and occupied as office spaces prior to the enactment of the current zoning in 1978, the city’s Acting Zoning Administrator has determined that the campus could be remodeled and re-leased to new office tenants if SKS Partners and the Prado Group so choose.

The exploration of a remodeling and re-leasing of the UCSF campus as office space might simply be a stopgap measure should redevelopment plans for the site drag on.  Then again, with construction costs and commercial rents on the rise, perhaps a pop-up tech campus could  provide an even greater risk-adjusted return.

Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Geno

    Housing!

  2. Posted by John

    I can’t help but like this suburban campus in the middle of the city. It is a welcome respite to the overall density, and I would regret it if it should be developed like every other housing development in the city these days. A site as large and rare as this should have something special done with it, while also providing the housing and commercial opportunities such a large site affords. And, I’m sure it would be too much to hope that the building would remain and be repurposed, but I like it…

  3. Posted by gribble

    It is a terrible, terrible building that requires ridiculous maintenance.

  4. Posted by HauntedHouse

    I used to work in the building. The place is creepy and I am convinced haunted. Wouldn’t want to work or live on the site.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      Because it was a former cemetery or because it housed UCSF that creeped you out? People have said 101 California is haunted because there was a shooting at a law firm (Petit & Martin) which killed eight people in the early 1990’s. I worked in the building myself and never felt anything out of the ordinary. I did (and do) try to imagine those lives which were cut short and how I could be better at what I do to preserve their legacy.

  5. Posted by invented

    “perhaps a pop-up tech campus”

    “Pop-up” — meaning temporary?

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Most likely but not necessarily. It could be a “pop-up” in terms of how quickly the campus could be renovated and re-leased as compared to an all-new development.

  6. Posted by Blabber Girl

    Nice gratuitous use of “tech” in the title. NIMBY bait.

    • Posted by Not Bashing

      NIMBY’s are self starters, not much need for bait.

  7. Posted by bike trike and baby carriage parking only

    Well I’m certain that as with the ‘parcel’ (code for raw meat waiting to be thrown into the developer’s grinder) of four precious blocks between Buchanan and Laguna, this one too will be treated with kid gloves by the “sell my grandmother’s grave for a few bucks” crowd that has overtaken our city.

    • Posted by Blabber Girl

      You do realize that “our city” was built by gold diggers and other fortune-seeking opportunists, right? No?

    • Posted by Victoria

      Hi, can you elaborate regarding “four precious blocks between Buchanan & Laguna”? I don’t understand the reference. Thanks, Victoria

      • Posted by stop driving

        I think they’re talking about the plot that is also bordered by Hermann and Haight. It’s only two blocks, though.

  8. Posted by stop driving

    This is prime land with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Financial District with proximity to Presidio Heights and Pacific Heights. Building prime housing on this lot is a no-brainer. Expect to see prices above $3,000/sq. ft. when this plot finally gets developed.

  9. Posted by daniel eran

    A suburban “respite” to density in the middle of SF, surrounded by 1950s 1-2 story row houses? This attitude is the reason nobody can afford to live here apart from the shrinking group of middle class people benefitting from rent control and rich people moving in.

    Rather than “repurposing” a terrible building that’s falling apart from an era of awful construction methods (guaranteed its full of Lead and Asbestos), this should be erased and the prime lot should include as much housing as possible.

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