100 Folsom Street Rendering with Heights

An amendment to San Francisco’s Redevelopment Plan for the Transbay District has been drafted and formally put forth for adoption in order to raise the height limit for Transbay Block 1, a block which is currently only zoned for development up to 300 feet in height but upon which Tishman Speyer has drawn plans for a twisty 400-foot tower to rise at the corner of Folsom and Spear.

Transbay Redevelopment Plan Height Limits

The first hearing for the proposed amendment, which is certain to be opposed, will be held by San Francisco’s Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure on January 19.

And as we first reported about the proposed height increase last month, if the Commission approves the amendment, the up-zoning for Block 1 will still require the approval of San Francisco’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, the dynamics of which have recently changed.

Tishman’s plan for the proposed ‘Bay Tower’ to rise at 100/160 Folsom Street, which is slated to be financed by China Vanke, includes 399 condos if built to 400-feet in height.

72 thoughts on “Height Increase for Twisty Bay Tower Formally Proposed”
  1. Absolutely no problem with 400′. There are two 400′ towers right next door – one from Lumina and the other from Infinity. The building doesn’t sit on the waterfront, and doesn’t block any views of the waterfront in general.

  2. Looks even better, the extra hundred feet gives another quarter turn. One of the few towers built or proposed in the last 20 yrs that I like, rather than just tolerate.

    1. @observant, since they’re condos, the affordable units would (I believe) be saddled with HOA fees. Not sure folks looking for affordable units would be able to make that work. If true, I’d assume the developer would pay into the city’s affordable housing fund for those extra units to build affordable housing offsite – my guess…

      1. Guess again.

        The Redevelopment Plan for the Transbay District doesn’t allow developers the option of paying into the City’s Affordable Housing Fund and requires 35 percent below market rate units to either be built on-site or within the District, as mandated by the State

        As to the original question, we’d estimate the extra 100 feet allows for an additional 70 or so premium tower units, which accounts for 25 of the 141 affordable units to be built below as proposed at 400 feet and a total of 399 units.

        1. @SS, fair enough, although I don’t necessarily agree with the in-district decision. My question still stands. If these affordable units are in-building (as you state), they will be hit with HOA fees and any other additional building-related fees. Correct? And if so, then how affordable will these “affordable” units really be?

          1. HOA dues in a building like this will be close to, if no less, than $1K/month minimum. Would be interesting to know what people who qualify for BMR units could afford the HOAs.

  3. Why can’t we have a new park there instead of this dizzying, crazy 400 ft tower? It is currently a parking lot. Build an underground parking lot for cars with a green park on the top.

      1. Transbay Park should be an absolute gem, and as already noted, will be right across the street.

        As far as the proposed rooftop park on the Transit Center itself, I’m becoming increasingly skeptical as to whether it will actually come to fruition and as to whether it should in lieu of some other better suited use. What with Oscar Park and the greensward fronting 2nd Street, there should be plenty of open space.

    1. The answer to your question, Sarah, is money.
      Who would (or could) buy up that land and pay for the construction of a park/underground parking lot? You? The city?
      Do you know how much this would cost?
      Maybe it would be good and nice to some people if we had all parks and no buildings, but who’s going to pay the money to do that sort of thing?
      It would also be nice if we put a giant glass dome over the city so that we could have climate-controlled streets and wouldn’t have to wear sweaters in the winter. The reason why we don’t? Money.

    2. What makes a building “crazy” and “dizzying”? People need a place to live, and this is an efficient and (comparatively speaking) aesthetically pleasing option to allow for that. Is it perhaps the density of the population that you object to?

  4. Sad that developers don’t follow the rules. Money always wins but San Francisco deserves better. Even three hundred feet is too tall for yet another building close to the waterfront.

    1. I really don’t understand the obsession with the water front. Who cares? There is A LOT of waterfront in the Bay Area, there are not many Central Business Districts. This is exactly the kind of place we SHOULD be building a dense walkable neighborhood. With higher density comes greater economies of scale. Building a park is not going to solve the affordable housing crisis. Cutting the height by 100 feet will DECREASE the number of affordable housing units by 25. When opponents of this project argue against this, I hope they look at the 25 low income families who will lose their housing when they tell them that protecting their views and stopping shadows are more important.

      1. Agree. When is this waterfront crap going to die? No cared about the waterfront when there was a FREEWAY!!!! blocking it. The Warriors original concept shutdown by this nonsense was an only in SF moment. Absolutely no one in portions of Soma, Polk Gulch, Hayes Valley, Castro, Mission, Haight, Western Addition, Noe, Glen Park, etc, etc, etc is complaining about direct access to the waterfront. This waterfront nonsense is all about a few groups of people who reside in a few select residences who’s view may be impacted by development.

        For the rest of us to see/enjoy the waterfront, we must go to the waterfront. Wondering how long that parking lot on the waterfront, aka sea lot 337, will remain….or should we just turn it into a $200 million publicly financed park?

        Build this already

    2. Some people think that tall buildings by the water are good for lots of reasons other than money.
      Aesthetics and urban vibrancy being just two.
      Don’t assume everyone shares your tastes, and is only swayed from the supposed ‘right’ decision by money.

  5. If this gets approved I would not be surprised if other blocks like block 2 also get up zoned as well in the future. Why even have city zoning height limits then?

    1. If we have zoning rules and height limits, why even have a planning commission and public process for development? We write down the rules, developers follow them, things get built.

  6. Building of this intricacy needs the additional height. The meeting of building with the street is disappointing; maybe that thud works in Chicago — it doesn’t here. The cladding should end around fifth floor and be met with a glassy transition to street.

  7. I don’t understand all the gushing over this design. I hope it’s kept to 300 feet. Not something that I care for…looks like a hot mess. A sort of play doh tower.

    1. I agree completely. The Aqua Tower in Chicago is much more interesting visually developed: the façade articulation varies moving UP and AROUND the tower.

      This SF project seems as if they quickly banged it out, without further study of the façade: it’s simply the same on all 4 sides and the vertical articulation is essentially the repetition of one rotated and twisted panel over and over again.

      I think people gush over it because it’s by this currently very trendy firm, and by some definitions it will boost the architectural status of San Francisco. It may or may not.

      I’m not sure that’s why we should gush over a new building.

      1. Aqua Tower is more interesting visually, but this looks more interesting technically. The articulation of the Aqua are from the balconies. The interior living space is just another rectangular box. Splines on spine.

        Here the units themselves have varied orientations, which seems more challenging and an evolution. Also raises the crucial issue for buyers: which orientation has the best feng shui?

      2. Status is a pretty shallow motive. Living someplace where you are surrounded by things that you enjoy is much more meaningful, and this moves the needle in the right direction.

    2. I think people are excited about this design because it is definitely a grade above the average bland and boxy designs getting built in SF. Yes, there is plenty of better architecture out there, but for SF this is about as good as it’s ever going to get.

      1. Exactly this. Today’s value engineered takes on mid-century modern construction is a horribly bland and soulless trend. This building at least tries to break that mold.

  8. Why does it look like the Infinity tower is about 200 ft.? I believe the shorter of the Infinity’s tower is 350 ft.

    1. It’s because you’re viewing the towers with a perspective from the Embarcadero facing down Folsom: the first Infinity Tower located at the corner of Main and Folsom (south side of Folsom). The new building will be located at Spear and Folsom, one block closer to the Embarcadero (north side of Folsom). The second Infinity tower – which if the 400′ is approved – would appear to be of equivalent height is actually halfway down the block from Spear and Folsom, or to the left from this view.

    1. They manage to do it for the Frank Ghery tower in NYC (they had to design a new window cleaning system) I am sure they have thought about it.

      I bet they also thought about earthquakes too in case you are worried if it will fall over when the big one hits.

  9. Let them build up only if they offset it by funding a public park where the temporary bus terminal is. Require them to turn the entire block into a ground level park at Howard/Folsom/Main/Beale. That’s the kind of offset that would be appropriate! Don’t give away the store with out some benefit to the public.

    1. ‘Give away the store’? You don’t know much about the real estate business, do you?
      Who is giving away what, exactly? Exactly who is is being given away to?
      Your comment would seem to imply that you believe the City and County of San Francisco is giving away the development rights for this parcel to greedy developers who will become even more ridiculously rich than they already are as a result of not having to build a park on Beale Street. If that’s really what you believe, and if that’s really how you think it works, then you should do some more research. Maybe you can get an internship working for a developer, unless you’re worried the greed might corrupt your sensibilities.

  10. Let them build it to 500 – 600 – 700 feet. keep the BMR onsite, the taller it is the more BMR’s there are…..HELLO!

    I like the twisty edge design and this doesn’t block anyones view. Crissakes SF’ers are so tight about buildings. Edgey is good. Edgey is nice.

  11. Sure, they’ve thought about how to clean the windows and how to keep it from collapsing during earthquake. But have they thought about us poor old folk walking by who, looking up at it, become disoriented and dizzy and fall down? Vertigo Tower. They should have ambulances standing by.


  12. The City’s conservative liberal attempts at manicuring our skyline are a prohibition that has left us with an under supply of housing and a lot of short boring buildings. And it’s been going on since the 70’s. Enough!

  13. No an avid build higher type, but this should easily be 600’+ with no objection. Original concept that will be amazing with some slight tweaking of how building meets the street. This will possibly be one of the only SF buildings of the current wave to have staying power. Most proposals we view daily are dull, this is not.

    While I believe Rincon tower is filling out it’s space nicely now that a few other building have been added in the vicinity, it’s 600’+ for a bland design.

  14. Every tower in SoMa should be at least 400 feet. I’m tired of the pointless backlash against increased height. It doesn’t benefit anybody. Keep areas like Russian hill and the marina quaint…but everything in SoMa and Financial District should be 600-800 ft.

    1. Exactly.

      The best way to keep North Beach and the Castro and the Marina quaint is to put people in SOMA. We need housing and SOMA is the neighborhood where it makes sense to build. There aren’t as many empty lots as there were ten years ago, but there are still some.

      1. There is an unbelievable amount of underused property in SOMA. It has run down single story industrial, parking lots, and gas stations galore that should be zoned to the hilt for residential. I’m generally a fan of what’s been happening on the corners in the Market corridor up through the Castro though…those corners deserve larger/nicer buildings. I wait with baited breath for them to finally demolish the old Home restaurant and build on that site.

        Instead we’ll fight endlessly over preserving stuff like the goddamn tennis club. This city simply can’t get out of it’s own way.

  15. build the big expensive thing with big expensive units to make housing cheaper! that makes a hell of a lot of sense. maybe sonya trauss can pose in a bikini before the planning commission to help move this project along

    1. The money is coming to SF anyway. The tech moguls or foreign investors aren’t going to move to Texas. If there are no new places for them to put their money, they’ll put it in the older ones, forcing people who live there out.

      There’s a tidal wave of money washing over SF. New buildings soak the money up, and stop it from displacing older poorer residents. Otherwise those get washed out and end up in the far outskirts of the bay area.

      Sure, buildings like this doesn’t make housing cheaper, but it prevents it from being even more expensive.

  16. Having left SF about a year ago after 41 years here, it’s insanity as usual and looks like it’s only going to get worse. The naysayers/NIMBYS/Telegraph Hill Neighbor types aren’t necessarily “liberal” but the rightwing/Tea Party/conservative types certainly are reactionary. It is the perfect recipe for stalemate/gridlock/corruption and hopelessness. Leaving was the best thing I’ve done in 41 years.

    1. So why come back to comment? Those of us who arrived in the past 10 years or less don’t really want your perspective now that you’ve ceded your place to us. It’s our turn now.

      1. You are absolutely right. It is your turn now but I doubt you’re in SF for the duration like I tried and almost succeeded to do.

    2. “the rightwing/Tea Party/conservative types certainly are reactionary”

      You really encountered these over your 41 years in SF? Because they do not really live in San Francisco to an appreciable degree.

      1. I used to think the SFGate commenters must all be from out of town. Then I joined nextdoor.com and found out my neighbors sound just the same.

          1. I go on nextdoor dot com or neighborhood blogs and I see slightly left of center democrat posters derided as right wing pretty much all the time. They’re not that. Maybe they’re right of you, but that isn’t what they are. Nor is describing someone who committed a crime, height, weight, clothing, race, a racist thing. Yet on next door people yap about that. “why did you need to say the person’s color” ? um, gee, I don’t know. To identify him or her? No. The ultra left, or at least those who play the ultra left on the internet are the ones who don’t know how to use language, or respond to language, properly.

  17. Poor Base Scale, lousy sense of proportion to the street level. Looks like you squished the whole street.
    Flashing, do I hear any leak identification systems?
    Window washing will be a lot of fun on that building….

    Who was going to live here?

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