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.