While the height of the new Salesforce/Transbay Tower rising at 415 Mission Street has already caught plenty of people by surprise, particularly when unexpectedly seen from afar, keep in mind that the tower’s 150-foot-tall crown, which will represent 14 percent of the 1,070-foot-tall Transbay tower’s total height, has yet to take shape.

San Francisco’s Central SoMa Plan, which could selectively increase building height limits in the neighborhood to allow towers up to 400 feet in height, is slated to be adopted by mid-2017. Planning to up-zone the Market Street Hub for development up to 600 feet in height is underway. And plans to leverage California’s Density Bonus Law to add a few stories are coming into light.

Expect height limits to dominate the discussion of San Francisco development in 2017. And if you thought they already had, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Best wishes for the New Year, we’ll be back on the 3rd.

41 thoughts on “More Height Coming in the New Year”
  1. It should have been 1200′ tall, but was shortened to 1070′ due to shadow concerns. It’s now 30′ shorter than the 1100′ tall Whilshire Grand tower in LA. We COULD have had the tallest tower on the west coast, but oh well…

      1. Civic pride, bragging rights, sheer American ingenuity, competition. Why would you NOT want an opportunity for our city to be first in a category? I’m still very proud of SF and the skyline, but I still think it’s a ridiculous reason for us to not take the crown (especially when we lost by a mere 30′ that we were supposed to exceed by 170′). If LA said they were making a 2000′ tower and this was still planned at 1070′ I’d say forget about it! But it’s such a near miss that I think it’s worth fighting for.

    1. Wilshire Grand is essentially an Oceanwide Center (50 First St., across the steet from Salesforce) with a toothpick stuck on top. In actuality, if San Franciscancs wanted to participate in some stupid “DM” contest with LA, spires could be added to Oceanwide or Salesforce any time. But it really is a silly exercise. Both the SF buildings mentioned are more attractive than Wilshire Grand IMHO.

      Meanwhile, what really counts for me is the sidewalk experience (a density and variety of people and storefronts, few if any blank walls) and SF has one that feels very much like the gold standard–New York–while no other US city, even Chicago, really does.

      1. As a European by birth, I do not find walking down the street in New York or San Francisco to be a “gold standard” for urbanity. If Manhattan is what you want, why not move there and enjoy? I lived there for 5 years, but prefer the scale, sunlight and overall environment of San Francisco and the Bay Area much better.

    2. I couldn’t care less about tower envy, as long as it’s an attractive building that fits in well with the skyline and serves a purpose other than being the tallest building.

  2. Had an amazing view of this coming down Clement Street at 40th Ave yesterday. It really changes the skyline – not sure how I feel about it since I’m used to the FiDi/Transamerica scale and location, but no question this makes an impact, even more than 1 RCH.

  3. 2017 should indeed be an interesting year for San Francisco real estate and development issues. The SFT tower is especially noticeable from Diamond Heights as one drives to the shopping center. The reaction of my neighbors is either they hate the height or love it. Allowing further height increases in the Central SOMA or The Hub is likely to be a very contentious issue in 2017 and how it plays out will impact not just the city’s skyline, but “life at street level” for decades to come.

    As to the Salesforce tower itself – given it’s probably going to be the tallest building built in SF – its bland and unremarkable design is a missed opportunity.

    Kudos to SS for their coverage of San Francisco and Bay Area real estate/RE development. I’ve recommended SS to my property managers back East and in the Northwest and they love it. Its a must read for them – they get a real kick out of the comments.

    Happy New Year to SS and all its readers.

  4. Super depressing experience crossing the Golden Gate this weekend and seeing that ugly phallus of cheap materials and computer-generated architecture rising from SOMA like a giant skin tag on the dermis of our once beautiful city. But oh please, do add more. Because nothing makes it stink less than adding more stench.

      1. More indeed! The SF skyline is looking tremendous with these new additions. Can’t wait for Oceanwide Center to top off at 910′. Wish we could get additional supertalls in the future.

        1. salesforce tower is the only supertall in the pipe. I think 1000+ is the working definition of supertall

          1. You’re right. I didn’t mean to infer that 910′ was a supertall, just that it’s another tall building in the pipeline but that I’d LOVE additional supertalls 1K’+ (~300m+) in the future.

    1. That’s exactly what people said about the Transamerica Pyramid when it was built. Unfortunately, history repeats itself as played out on message boards.

    2. Funny. SF born and raised (Valley Street) so I hope I qualify as a “real San Franciscan” and the drive over the bridges, seeing the growing skyline, literally send shivers of electricity down my spine. I think the skyline is gorgeous.

      Be careful not to construe opinions with truth, because there are many people on both sides of this debate.

      Especially ironic that you mention the iconic Golden Gate in your post, as locals rebelled furiously over its construction at the time and felt it marred the “once beautiful landscape”.

      1. Many locals rebelled against the TransAmerica Pyramid as well…now its an icon and one of our defining features.

  5. Thank you SS! Thank you commenters for making this community. I disagree with some of you but always find opinions amusing.

    Personally SF is a dump and they should tear it all down and start over but that’s just me.

      1. Yeah… let’s not do Urban Renewal again, thanks. It’s a really good thing that tearing down rent-controlled housing in SF is now illegal in practice, unless replaced one-for-one. And a variety of building ages makes for a better, more diverse city (though I would argue the pendulum has swung somewhat too far towards worshipping old buildings at this point).

        1. Pretty sure Skeeter was referring to when most of SOMA was leveled in less than 60 seconds and then half of SF burned to the ground…

    1. Yes, we do! Although I don’t have a problem with SFT design (I think it is a very nicely-designed building), I’m still hoping we can go taller perhaps during the next boom cycle. 😉

  6. When I’m downtown it doesn’t seem that tall yet, but then I’ll get a glimpse of it from neighborhoods outside of downtown where I can’t see any other buildings and I’m surprised with how tall it is. I’m sure I’ll get used to see it eventually.

    1. Salesforce Tower still has approx. 150′ to go for the crown which is expected to top out in March. So it’s going to look even better real soon.

  7. The tallest buildings and hills in SF are going to be

    Salesforce -1070 ft (in construction)
    Mount Davidson – 925 ft
    Oceanwide Center – 910 ft (in construction)
    Twin Peaks – 910 ft
    Mount Sutro – 909 ft
    Transamerica – 853 ft

    1. But if we count spires on buildings, we should also count trees, antennas and medieval torture devices. So Mount Sutro should remain the clear winner for a long while.

    2. Wow, very cool – I had no idea that Salesforce Tower (ugh – wish it had stayed “Transbay Tower” or “415 Mission”) was going to be taller than the highest points in S.F. – from the top, one could literally see over Mt. Davidson and Twin Peaks to the ocean beyond. (Assuming one could stand on the top – which will be difficult given that it’s going to be open filigree work…)

  8. What I love is that all these tall buildings are really adding definition and height to the skyline, yet, the Transamerica Building, being where it’s located on the other side of Market still provides a focus and stands out. I’m happy to see that continue.

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