555 Golden Gate Avenue Site

Plans to raze the former Stars/Trader Vic’s/Maestro building turned Empire Room at 555 Golden Gate Avenue and construct an eleven-story building on the site are moving forward.

As proposed by JS Sullivan, the revised plan for the building, which is being designed by Natoma Architects, now includes 58 condos, an underground garage for 34 cars and 64 bikes with its entrance on Redwood Alley and an open passageway between the two streets.

555 Golden Gate Avenue Rendering 2016

And while the original plans for the development didn’t include a retail component, three small retail spaces have been added on the ground floor.

The Empire Room’s lease ends in 2017.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Formerly Native

    Survey says…DING!

    I like the design and hope that more rebirth comes to the extended Civic Center area.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      This block has been, for a long time, the worst in the immediate area. As I mention below, McDonald’s attracted the homeless as did the vacant lot next to it. The rest of that side of Golden Gate is poorly maintained buildings housing English language lessons and a Central American consulate that too attracts a poorer crowd (many undocumented).

      With the redevelopment of this lot and the McDonalds and vacant lots, the whole area will be pretty much mid-price condos and fully “reborn”.

      • Posted by Orland


      • Posted by Bay Guy

        I have always been a fan of BTinSF. It began on the Skyscraper pages. We both live in the same city, I believe.

      • Posted by Hugh

        Unwitting satire.

  2. Posted by Dixon Hill

    I wonder if the “penthouse” will sell at $1.9 million or less.

  3. Posted by BTinSF

    With the homeless magnet aka McDonald’s across the street (and the long-term vacant lot next door to that) now soon gone, maybe this block has a chance for retail to succeed but it would be smartest to orient it to the immediately surrounding residents’ needs. Something like a 7-11 would be nice.

  4. Posted by sassySFboy

    Me likey 🙂

  5. Posted by sf

    How come when I hear Trader Vic’s I immediately think Queen of England?

    • Posted by DM

      I remember back in the early to mid 70’s, a photo of Diane Feinstein and Queen Elizabeth entering Trader Vic’s on Cosmo Place. The photo appeared on the front page of the Chronicle and showed the Queen in a most human and relaxed state of being. I often wonder why that photo hasn’t circulated more widely, or maybe now that I think of it, I just answered my own question. Still, a wonderful photo.

  6. Posted by AnonAnon

    Very nice design. Love that they are doing (or at least planning) an open passageway between the two streets.

    • Posted by Sutro_Tower

      The open passageway is an interesting design feature but I presume that it will become an area for homeless to get out of the inclement weather unless the building has on site security or a doorman. We’ll see how the design evolves.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        agree. it will be full of poop and needles in no time

        • Posted by AnonAnon

          Well, that didn’t take long for the homeless obsessives to weigh in. Are the homeless part of the manic episodes as well?

          • Posted by Sutro_Tower

            I grew up in the TL, perhaps it’s just stating the obvious. A covered open passageway is an invitation to camp overnight. Sorry thems the rules. Something that may be a nice design gesture that looks good on paper but doesn’t take into account the realities of that location will ultimately be judged as a failure by future tenants and casual observers alike.

          • Posted by AnonAnon

            “perhaps it’s just stating the obvious” Yes, ad nauseam.

            The homeless are in open areas of buildings, under freeway underpasses, in doorways, in Golden Gate Park, etc., etc., etc. The issue is do you make designs that are so unfriendly for everyone else just to keep the homeless away? Those kind of design decisions will simply push the homeless around the corner. So you wont encounter them on the shortcut through the block because that wont be part of the design, but you will encounter them on the corner on your longer walk around the block. Problem solved?

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            yes, I would argue that you do design to keep away the homeless, especially if you want people to live there. a homeless encampment is a public health hazard. UNfortunately its a way of life here because the city has let it fester so long.

  7. Posted by curmudgeon

    Is that a jumper or a shooter on the top floor?

  8. Posted by alberto rossi

    Retail on the first floor is a vast improvement over the concrete cavern of the original proposal.

  9. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Guess I’m the exception to the rule on this one – I think it’s hideous. And in a few years it’ll be all dusty dingy glass and (seen from the outside) mis-matched drapes and window coverings. No one ever depicts that sort of thing in the renderings…

    • Posted by donjuan

      What’s your suggestion? A fenced off plot of dirt?

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Holy god, how do you go from my saying I don’t like the design, to suggesting that I’d prefer a fenced off plot of dirt?! I’m getting so tired of the polemic commentariat on the web – treating everything as black and white (when in real life virtually nothing is), and people are actually allowed to have opinions.

    • Posted by hugh

      Arata Isozaki has tons of renderings of his buildings in ruins (namelink).

      But that’s much more romantic than renderings looking dated and neglected ten years on.

      The poured concrete should age better than a lot of materials used recently, and look less instantly dated than the orange/white monstrosity going up at Franklin/Bush.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Funny, when our Muni bus passed that Franklin/Bush project last night, I thought “wow it’s really coming together fast, and looks great”. So, different strokes indeed.

        • Posted by Hugh

          Not Franklin and Bush. That looks nice. Franklin and Pine. It’s panels of stark white and orange with the facades of the 1920s shops still there. The design is kind of a nod to the early 60s, but it’s not going to patina well. I called it a monstrosity Bc it feels bulky and massive there.

    • Posted by AnonAnon

      I think most materials without maintenance or cleaning end up looking dingy in the city. The horizontal wood siding so popular will fade (personally I like the soft silver/gray look natural wood gets) and the pervasive stucco tends to look worn around the edges where metals tend to stain, or water infiltrates or settling causes cracks.

      I was just in front of Saitowitz’s Yerba Buena lofts and thought it was holding up pretty well – I mean yes it could have used a power washing, but otherwise looked good. The window coverings were all flat and consistent so didn’t look trashy.

  10. Posted by AlfieJr

    oh heavens how callow can SocketSite be? the true beloved Traders Vics was of course located on Cosmo Place alley in the ‘upper’ TL for 40 years. a true classic.

    the attempted new edition at this location never jelled. but instead this spot was the home of Jarimiah Towers’ legendary Star’s!

    where majorities of various city commissioners would often meet and drink in flagrant violation of the Brown Act back in the day.


    • Posted by hgh

      Thank you. The idea that a tower is going there is grotesque.

  11. Posted by Alan Greenwald

    Yes, nice design. Anyone concerned about where ESL schools and homeless go?

    • Posted by Elitist Pig

      Is this project displacing the homeless?

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