95 Hawthorne Street Site

As proposed, the five-story office building at 95 Hawthorne Street, which formerly housed the San Francisco Passport Agency on the northeast corner of Hawthorne and Folsom, will be razed in order to make way for a 32-story residential building to rise.

95 Hawthorne Street Rendering: Base

Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) for the John Hancock Life Insurance Company, which owns the property, the new tower would reach a height of 320 feet and yield 330 apartments over 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail space (primarily fronting Folsom Street) and an underground garage (with its entrance on Hawthorne) for 250 cars.

95 Hawthorne Street Rendering

And while the City’s preliminary review of the proposed plans, which was completed yesterday, hasn’t raised any major red flags, the Planning Department has provided a few recommendations as the development team moves forward through the approval process:

1. The Planning Department recommends reducing the amount of parking proposed to the minimum amount required by Code as this project sits on a transit street. [Editor’s Note: the principally permitted number of parking spaces for 330 units on the site is 165 per San Francisco’s Planning Code.]

2. The Planning Department requests the building design establish a clearly defined base to better define the street wall, per the intent of the Code. Recommended means to accomplish this include a 12’ tower setback on Folsom above the base, a cornice projection, and design differentiation of the base from the tower.

In addition, while the proposed design calls for 95 Hawthorne’s lobby to occupy a significant portion of the tower’s ground floor along Hawthorne, and “the Planning Department appreciates a grand lobby,” it is also recommending that the width of the lobby be minimized “to allow for suitably sized active uses fronting Hawthorne Street.”

95 Hawthorne Street Ground Floor Plan

We’ll keep you posted and plugged in as the plans and approval process proceed.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by SFRealist

    A “cornice projection”. For f*ck’s sake.

    • Posted by Mark

      Yeah, I know. I’m not a fan of the proposed design, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the current prison wall of cement.

      What’s with all these renderings of people hanging out on their balconies?

      • Posted by anon2

        I think the building looks fine, but I don’t like the bright orange accents. When I see that sort of thing on new buildings around town, it reminds me of public housing projects adding squares of bright colors their otherwise non-descript concrete towers, under the idea that it will improve the mood and disposition of the residents. Maybe it does, but I think it’s a little silly.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          Agree. Orange rectangles seem to be the accent feature of choice these days and are way way overdone. Someone should do one of those maps showing all the buildings in SF with them

    • Posted by Notcom

      Are you upset by the idea of a cornice or by the redundancy contained in the phrasing?

      • Posted by SFRealist


        Demanding a ‘cornice projection’ is some bureaucrat justifying his or her place on the city payroll

  2. Posted by eflat

    if the developer wants to put in 250 parking spots why can’t planning allow them to, oh I know: they want more bike parking for the 50-60 year olds who will be moving here…and, omigosh, it’s a transit street with SF’s great public transit system available, incredible. So tired of the zombies at planning and SFMTA

    • Posted by Sabbie

      Because there may be room for the parking spaces, but there’s no more room for those cars to drive around town. It’s total gridlock downtown already. Stop holding onto the past, SF is going the way of the European and Asian capitals, it will have to begin measures to actively limit cars soon. At least in certain areas at certain times. And planners know this, and they are looking to the future.

      • Posted by eflat

        it would be helpful if planners/sfmta provided the transit systems that European and Asian capitals provided instead of the roving cesspools that Muni provides

        • Posted by Sabbie

          Yes MUNI still needs improvement, but I’d say it is 500 times better than when I moved here in ’96. More importantly, you can count on getting a ride when you need one nowadays, unlike the old broken crony taxi system. Plus there is the distant dream of high speed rail, who knows…

          • Posted by Hunter

            Don’t forget self-diving cars. Once those are a reality, far fewer people are going to want to drive themselves…if it’s even still legal.

        • Posted by HousingWonk

          It would be helpful if our Federal government wasn’t control by anti-tax morons who scream “SOSHULIZM!!!!” every time somebody suggests we raise taxes or spend money on something. Major public transit projects are basically impossible with either (a) Federal funds from the FTA or (b) a major local/regional tax measure (through bonds or otherwise) to fund the capital projects. Its SFMTA or “planners” who aren’t providing these things. Its the voters.

          • Posted by two beers

            Neo-liberal and libertarian dolts can’t quite understand the connection between low taxes and crappy infrastructure, crappy health care, and crappy education. It all has to be the fault of brown people and hippies.

          • Posted by Davester

            Wow do you really believe what you say. Do you realize 60% of the Federal Budget is spent on social programs! How about you make statements that are more constructive like; take some personal responsibility and plan for your own funded retirement, take care of your body so you won’t become a huge health liability. if people did that and stop expecting a free handout maybe this country would have the appropriate funds for public transit projects!

          • Posted by Onslow

            @two beers: Wow, you’re not one to be deriding anyone for being a “dolt”.

            LOL at “low taxes”, apparently nobody told you that our sales, state income and property taxes are all among the highest in the nation.

            Please, spare us all the crap about “we’re not paying enough”, those of us who actually work for a living are forced to fork over a HUGE amount of our income on taxes, only to receive in return lousy public transit, awful public schools, crumbling roads, the list goes on…

          • Posted by Dan

            Wow, Davester. Social Security and Medicare are not “handouts.” We pay into them when we are younger and working so that we have a pension and healthcare when old or disabled.

        • Posted by sfcommie

          I ride Muni all the time. No amount of money will get us there as long as Muni’s human drivers and their union remain; the only way for us to get to the level of (some) European/Asian public trans efficiency is to replace them with technology. We may not be too far away, at least partially, if Google or Tesla is to be believed.

          • Posted by Jake

            Google recently said it could be 30 years, but they are known for their optimism.

        • Posted by GGGGGG


      • Posted by Futurist

        Well, sort of. Still PLENTY of cars in London and Paris, plenty of gridlock, but they impose some fees for going into the inner cores. And London and Paris still work beautifully even with the cars.

        • Posted by Alai

          …just a lot fewer cars than they would otherwise have.

      • Posted by Oakland lover


      • Posted by Oakland lover

        AMEN! Why people choose to drive in solo everyday baffles me.I dont think the right shouldnt exist….but we should not encourage policies that support more solo cars (or cars in general) on the roads.

        People will whine and moan about our public transit all day long, and whine and moan about our grid locked roads, my right to drive 200 feet to the store if I want too, blah blah blah, regardless…

        • Posted by Futurist

          Oh please, you’re starting to sound like the leaders of North Korea. Really? the right to drive solo should NOT exist?

          What next? force people by law to ride two to a bike at all times?

          • Posted by Oaklandlover

            I didn’t say that. Take a breath, re read the comment.

        • Posted by AnonAnon

          Well let me ease your bafflement a bit.

          My daughter’s school opens at 8:20. If I drop her off and try to get to my office near the ballpark via bus and BART, I will likely get there at 9:30 at the EARLIEST, which doesn’t really sit well with my employer. Then, when I get out of work at say 5:30 – same story getting home, so I’d be late picking her up from aftercare, which doesn’t really sit well with them a they charge for every minute you are late. This doesn’t even take into account the time that I might want to hit the pool after pick up, or maybe walk my dog or have time to make dinner. By car it takes me 20 minutes, door to door.

          If you are still confused, I can’t help you.

          • Posted by Oaklandlover

            Makes sense. I agree bus then a Bart/muni transfer doesn’t make sense. I’m lucky in my house and work are both 10 minute walks to Bart and I enjoy walking. I get it not all people have that blessing. But many more do that don’t take advantage of it. I know several personally, but like I said it’s a choice you can make, but I think it should be discouraged. But if you have to, sure you can.

  3. Posted by Louis

    current bad eyesore, and underused land.

    good architect, good design now.

    hope it happens.

    the building allegedly design by norman foster on mission near 1st could take some lessons here. re scale, color, details, skill.

  4. Posted by alberto rossi

    looks too much like the proposal for 1st and Folsom

    • Posted by matteo

      Both were designed by SOM. I wonder why they made them so similar.

    • Posted by zig

      Why is that a bad thing?

      • Posted by Orland

        They’re just blocks apart.

  5. Posted by Notcom

    Well 95 certainly is ….uhm, “unique”. It looks like one of those things you would make w/ Build-a-Rama, where you tried to do that skyscraper on the lid, and then realized you needed the deluxe set…all you had were a bunch of parts to do the bottom; would be nice to have some history on the building to find how how/why it ended up like that.

  6. Posted by Sunset94116

    The passport agency is no longer located in the building. They moved to the Federal Building a couple of months back.

    [Editor’s Note: Good catch, since corrected above. (And we’ve added a ground floor plan as well.)]

  7. Posted by SFrentier

    I’ll miss that brutalist architecture

  8. Posted by Drew P

    Jenga for giants!

  9. Posted by Hank

    My son went to child care on the ground floor of the structure from 1993 through 1998, on the ground floor and connected to the building at 75 Hawthorne. The neighborhood continues to evolve.

  10. Posted by Grego

    How about a goodly setback along Hawthorne as well? The sidewalk there has been ridiculously carved out to make motorcycle parking, leaving a single-person width walkway between parking meters and the building wall. That situation has needed to be fixed for many years…

    • Posted by Alai

      Wouldn’t it make more sense to remove the carve-out?

      In what universe does it make sense to sacrifice 50’x3’x32 stories = 4800 square feet of housing in order to preserve 150 square feet of parking?

    • Posted by Dr. House

      That sidewalk carve-out is ridiculous. And I can’t even understand why. The motorcycles aren’t that long, and slanting the spaces could make them fit in the same envelope as the car spaces right before and after them. Somebody really didn’t think things through.

      Anyway there’s no reason to change the building for this silly screw-up. Just adjust the sidewalk back to full size. As it stands now pedestrians have to walk in the street to pass by each other.

  11. Posted by BobN

    1/2 a parking place for each unit housing, most frequently, two adults with an average of 1 1/2 cars.

    Brilliant “planning”.

    • Posted by Alai

      People won’t have cars if they can’t store them nearby when they aren’t using them. Would you?

  12. Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

    So one more garage entrance on Hawthorne. That makes roughly 5-6 (maybe more, I can’t remember off the top of my head right now) on the street from Howard to Harrison. If I remember correctly, there’s a plan to turn Hawthorne into something of a thoroughfare to move traffic from FiDi to the bridge more efficiently due to 2nd street turning into a traffic-calmed two lane oasis.

    I can imagine cars, etc trying to get both into and out of those entrances while traffic is zipping along on Hawthorne. Just seems to me that the thoroughfare plan may not go as smoothly as expected with traffic slowing down every so often to let others into and out of those entrances…

  13. Posted by Dave

    One issue rears its head again. That is the failure to tie major development to transit and infrastructure improvements. This project is kitty corner across from the Canton project. 150 or so condos and behind that Canton development will be another new wrap-around condo development. Perhaps as many as 300 units all told if I recall correctly.

    The roads can’t handle this and transit improvements are years (decades?) away.

    Its unfortunate there is not regional planning and specifically as to new residential and office construction. The East Bay right now is better suited to handle major new development. If there was a regional Planning Commission and zoning there could be a regional freeze major new office development in SF for a decade and restrict housing development. Shifting all that development instead to the East Bay.

    This too would take pressure off BART which is at capacity in terms of the tube and rush hour commuters. Similar situation for the BB.

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