Transbay Parcel F

Five teams have been pre-qualified to bid a minimum of $160 million for Transbay Parcel F which is located mid-block between First, Second, Howard and Natoma Streets and zoned for the development of a tower up to 750-feet in height. Sealed written bids from the teams are due on August 26.

The highest written bid will be revealed on September 2, 2015, at which point the qualified teams will be allowed to orally raise their bids for the parcel in a live auction.

At least two-thirds of any building on Parcel F – which has the potential to support up to 750,000 square feet of development and will connect to the 5.4 acre rooftop park atop San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center by way of a pedestrian bridge over Natoma – is designated for commercial use per the City’s approved Transbay District Plan.

In terms of the identities of the five pre-qualified teams, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority does not intend to identify the bidders prior to the live auction, “to preserve the integrity of the competition,” but we’ll allow for speculation and bragging rights with respect to the teams and winning bid below.

And we’ll raise the possibility of a non-traditional player like Apple or Alphabet (Google), although they would be in the figurative shadow of the Salesforce Tower until the Salesforce lease expires in 17 years.

56 thoughts on “Five Teams Qualified To Bid For 750-Foot Transbay Tower Site”
  1. Fewer bidders than I was expecting based on the TJPA’s hype. Imagine TMG is in the running since they sold 50 First. Maybe Hines and/or Boston Properties if they’re willing to double down with the Salesforce Tower. Kilroy?

  2. It’ll be interesting to see how far above the minimum bid this will come in at.

    Some say we are at the end of the current boom cycle (housing and commercial property) if so, will this impact the price the City gets? Given, if the cycle is peaking, this will come on-line in a down cycle.

    Will the conditions when this is built out impact its height? The link in the article is great about the sites zoned for more than 700 feet. All are accounted for as far as I know except the one on mid-Mission up from the Mission/First towers. Has that been taken?

    In any case, the Mission/First (other corner) site zoned for 700 feet was built only to 30 stories. Way shorter than was allowed and given this is just one of 6 or so sites the City will allow to go to 700 feet I am surprised they cut it so short. And that was during the boom cycle.a handful .

    1. There were a lot of extenuating circumstances for Mission/First, but I’m sure that they wish they had built to 700′ instead of just under 500′ at this point. That was like leaving million dollar bills laying on the sidewalk.

  3. i wonder if they didn’t drop the plan to level the second-street fronting buildings when governor brown killed sf redevelopment. the idea was to take them down for rail construction using cut and cover and then build a plaza afterward for access to that roof park. but the funds were never allocated and the purchases never made, the rail portion has been moved to a phase two and if the project intends to bore anywhere on the project then the increased cost of acquisition in a 2015-2020 environment makes the tunnel boring (over cut and cover) seem a lot closer to pencilling here. assuming that they’re still budgeting 15 million (all of which was coming from development open space fees), i’m guessing the shortfalls we’re seeing mean those monies will got the center’s roof park before a new plaza. then there’s the fact that that corner contains three contributing buildings in the historic district, though that would count for less that normal given the district and the promise of yet more open space.

    1. Have you stood on the street and looked up at that structure? The height is one very imposing obstacle to access to the roof park. I know there is a proposal for a funicular from Mission but they better come up with more if they want to induce passing pedestrian traffic.

  4. I find the whole zoning of SF very strange. We’re going to have 4 700 ft+ towers in a 4 block radius. A few 400-700 towers in the financial district. Then then the rest of the city is flat. Downtown is basically a few blocks, then you end up in warehouse-laden SoMa.

    1. Yes and no; I wouldn’t say the rest of the city is flat. The rest of SoMa is flat, but Nob Hill & Russian Hill contribute to the skyline, and of course the hills make the city very much not flat.

    2. I think the hills and terrain have influenced SF to oppose hi-rise building. This goes way back. Its different from Seattle or Vancouver or LA. Its why expanding the hi-rise zone SOMA was accomplished in part, IMHO, under the HSR guise.

      Look at the opposition to attempts to up-zone Van ness/Market or the area near Caltrans.

      Once SOMA is built out I think it will be virtually impossible to expand the hi-rise zone. Not forever, nothing is forever, but for a few decades.

      The one exception might be the BVHP Lennar development. As long as their proposed condo towers are not too close to the Bay and short. I think the towers are like 20 stories or so. They might past muster.

      This is why Geary Street has a fair number of 1 and 2 story building. The Richmond has strongly opposed any up-zoning. Or the Outer Mission along Mission Street.

      Its the same in most neighborhoods. I know of a gas station on Ocean who, when the owner – who owns the lands – wants to build a 5 story condo Mediterranean-style. But this is next to Westwood Park (1 and 2 story detached arts and crafts homes) and it unlikely that they will allow anything taller than 3 stories. Even on Ocean a fairly long commercial strip there are a good number of one-story buildings. I assume they are not torn down as it makes sense to go to 4 stories but the neighborhood probably would limit it to 2 stories. Just my guess as I said.

      We shall see.

      1. Three five-story buildings were recently built just a block away from that gas station on Ocean. They’re also right next to Westwood Park of course, and they weren’t killed by NIMBYs…so why do you assume a five story building on the gas station site will be blocked?

        1. The owner tells me that is their fear. Its still a while off until they retire and try to build.

          I think the buildings you refer to are near City College. That is a unique situation. Going further down Ocean is closer to Westwood. In fact this condo would be right next to a single story Westwood home.

          But the length of Ocean from City College to JS could support 5 story building with 2 floors commercial and 3 residential. IMO. But I don’t live near there.

          1. Not filled with fear Orland. Just filled with hopes for reasonable growth. I’d support 4/5 story buildings down Ocean Avenue and 10 story buildings down Geary.

            How’d I end up here? Had no choice, I was born here.

          2. The three buildings I’m talking about are literally one block away from the gas station. It’s basically the same exact location, and is barely any farther away from Westwood Park.

          3. Are you referring to the one at Miramar? Dude they demolished the service station and dug out the tanks. Four stories, 15 units – it’s a done deal.

            Also, the Avalon development *is* adjacent to Westwood Park. In fact, one of the concessions they made was to notch the corner and create a terrace on the upper floor (see namelink)

          4. The chatter on re: Miramar and Ocean is that, while they’ll no longer be selling gas, they will continue the car repair business. The sign I saw posted on the fence yesterday said something along the lines of “we’ll be back soon”.

          5. Its true about the gas station. They stopped selling gas in May I think. I had to switch to the Twin Peaks station which has decent prices for SF.

            Anyway, the Ocean station will be service only. I recall the owner telling me once they didn’t make much on gas and this way I guess they don’t have to keep the station open on weekends.

            Any plans to put condos there re a few years off at least.

      2. As to the Outer Mission, so far as I know there wasn’t any opposition to the Jewish Home building up to 80 feet.

    3. Near the Chelsea end of the High Line in NYC is a quite elaborate scale model of Manhattan. What is striking is just how much of it is low-rise geographically. Of course, a lot of the “flat” areas might be 6 stories but the areas of high-rise towers really stand out much as SF.

  5. That corner of 2nd and Howard is filled with buildings. Are they going to tear those down and put in a street level park? Otherwise, these images are grossly misleading to some extent.

    1. that was the plan! seems nuts to me too. i read through the docs and they never actually purchased the buildings, aside from the condo one they tore down. read my comment above on the plan, to which i’ll add that the initial idea was to have a plaza on mission (that’s going ahead for sure with the construction of the transbay tower) and a plaza on howard at second, entrances of sorts.

      and even if these buildings, tragically, must come down for the rail extension into the tbt, at least zone it up to capture some value, don’t put in yet another plaza. there are so so many in the south fidi, it’s just not necessary.

      1. Agreed. The streetwall of old commercial buildings on 2nd street creates a really nice atmosphere, and it seems like a shame to demolish for a park, when there are already multiple parks/plazas nearby (including a large new one literally right next door).

        But If I remember right, the buildings need to be demolished in order to build the tunnel connection to the train box.

        1. not if they bore the tunnel. like i wrote above: brown’s killing sf development killed the tax increment bond plan to raise funds, slowing the project significantly and delaying land buys. the reasoning for demolition is straightforwardly about the cost of cut/cover tunneling vs a bored tunnel. but if the value of these properties continues to increase as time goes on and if the boring machine will be done anywhere else (which seems certain) there will be a cost convergence where the balance is more likely to be decided based on urbanism (plaza vs historic district character). i hope that we see it work out like this. i’ve a good mind to get into touch with some of our local development villains and draw their attention to it.

          1. Would it be totally impossible to build the tunnel connection and then rebuild on top of that?

          2. Interesting. I hope things end up going that way, and the buildings get to stay. The idea to bring NIMBYs into it is kind of funny too (a broken clock is right twice a day!)..Though what do you think they’ll be more supportive of? Keeping historic lowrise buildings, or adding parkland? Having to choose seems like it might cause some kind of irreversible error/overload in the brain of a typical NIMBY.

          3. it’s tough to say with the professional anti-development activists since there are so few in the area. there are some certainties – if it’s demolished, they’ll take the plaza over a rezoning for significant height, no question; if the choice is between heritage preservation and uprooting businesses unnecessarily, they’ll oppose it; and if there’s some way to leverage the issue for concessions elsewhere, they’ll kick up the dirt, earn the concession and let it go ahead as planned.

            a potential problem with trying to save the buildings OR rezoning to build tall on the site to capture costs is that the eir came through with the plaza included. that was a very long process and i’m not sure how many alternatives they studied in re the tunneling method. any change to save those buildings would probably require some ammendation of the eir, which is a headache. i honestly think i’ll send an email to sue hestor and ask for her opinion on it. would be great if there was some sort of movement to save these buildings and the second street streetwall, which is pretty much 1/3 of the historic district there.

        2. Yeah, the weight is too much from what I understand to have buildings sitting on top of the downtown train track connection tunnel.

          1. i don’t see how this could be true. it could get sort of expensive (which would be a cost eaten by the vity in the land sale) depending on the depth of the tunnel but definitely not impossible.

    2. If a public plaza is built there, then the shadow ordinance would prohibit any new high rise construction in the area after it is installed.

      1. I’m pretty sure the shadow ordinance only applies to older parks (not sure what the cut off is), not new ones.

  6. As long as it’s tremendously high, I don’t care who gets it for what.

    20-30 years from now, the complainers will see Willie Brown’s vision of transforming SF into the shining jewel of the West Cost. A city prominently on the world stage along with London, Paris, NYC and Tokyo.

    LA is too dirty and clichéd. SF is who you fall in love with and marry.

    1. Except everyone that falls in love and gets married in San Francisco moves to Los Angeles to afford a house with a yard, get the good weather, and stay in the amazing state that California is.

    2. Is that the same Willie Brown who didn’t “save Muni in 100 days”, who killed the CalTrain downtown extension, who defunded the neighborhood planning processes and allowed the billboard companies to plaster their signs on every blank wall in the city?

    3. Sorry, until homeless and other quality of life issues are successfully addressed, SF cannot be included with those four.

      1. Agree. No other city tolerates this. Oh, look! There is an encampment out my kitchen window (if only I could share a photo of this via SS to prove I am not just embellishing; only 11 of them tonight, though, so I guess I should be grateful)

  7. Has the site on Mission slated for 700 feet had a development proposal? Its on the same side as the First and Mission towers and about halfway up the block towards Second Street.

    Not that HSR will get there anytime soon (2 or 3 decades) but was accommodation made in the plan for a major hotel? The Giants are building a smallish hotel quite a ways away. I am unaware of any new hotels proposed for the area. The closest major hotel is the W? I think there is a Marriot tucked away on Folsom too.

    1. What’s with the sudden concern about hotels? SF has tons of them, including at least one that was recently finished, and at least one more planned. And 90% of them are within close walking distance to the transbay terminal, if that’s what you’re worried about…the Marriott and W are only a couple blocks away, the Palace, St. Regis and Ritz carlton are just a block further, another marriott, the four seasons etc are one block past that, and there are more just a little farther out than that. And proposals are being worked on for the mission street site (which is 750′, not 700′) right now, but haven’t been released yet.

      1. I was going by the linked story in the article which has it at 700 feet.

        The hotel thing is like – well HSR dumps (not getting into the very long timeline here) a ton of folks off at the station and it’d be sort of nice to walk a few feet to an elevator and be taken to a hotel. I was thinking of a hotel on the upper floors of one of the towers. There is, or was, such a deal in the financial district where the lower majority of the tower is office space and the top few floors ( don’t know the exact number) is a hotel.

        Do you know why the First/Mission site zoned for 700 feet was built out to just 30 stories or so? That has baffled me. One of 6 or 7 parcels in the City which will be allowed to go 700 feet or taller and you purchase it but go short.

  8. Is the office component of the project for Parcel F subject to securing an allocation of the Prop M limits, and if so, is it given any priority?

  9. Oh look – a mini version of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Nice of them to build that to remind us of it when the Jerry Brown/Willie Brown folly collapses into the Bay.

    1. At least be thankful for the Foundry Square buildings.

      Mid-rise, they will provide a view of the sky to park-goers that the hi-rises otherwise surrounding the park will not.

      I believe Foundry Square was planned before the park was announced, so it is a fortuitous happenstance these 4 mid-rise blocks were built in the center of what became the TransBay district.

      1. I work in Foundry square – the irony is workers keep the blinds down as too much sun glare then moan about the shade the new transbay/salesforce/181 will throw. And yes, designed a long time ago as Sun Microsystems campus that imploded in tech 1.0 crash.

  10. Parcel F should be kept to the same height as the Foundry Square buildings, minimizing the shadows cast on the park.

    1. I guess you think 181 Fremont should be capped at 10 stories too? It’s the middle of downtown SF, a very dense area of high rises, in a city with really high demand for office and residential space (which is mostly averse to building high rises outside of downtown). Priority should go to maximizing development in this area, not maximizing the amount of sun that reaches a rooftop park (as if there’s a lack of sun or parks, or sunny parks in SF…lol).

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