When the City’s revised Central SoMa Plan was unveiled in August, it raised the proposed height limits for numerous neighborhood parcels, including an up-zoning of the Flower Mart site to allow development up to 270 feet in height and a 400-foot limit for the Creamery/HD Buttercup parcels at the corner of Townsend and Fourth, upon which Tishman Speyer has proposed to build a residential tower or two.

But the 725 Harrison Street site between Third and Fourth, upon which Boston Properties has proposed to build the modern 240-foot tower rendered above, was limited to 160 feet in height.

On Wednesday, the City released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Central SoMa Plan. And while not explicitly noted in the DEIR’s prose, the proposed height limit for the 725 Harrison Street parcel has been changed to 240 feet, which would allow Boston Properties’ project to rise as proposed, or at least with a few tweaks.

40 thoughts on “Planning Raises Proposed Height Limit for Central SoMa Tower Site”
  1. Nice to see this height supported by planning.

    High-density commercial along both sides of 80 is a great area for growth. A future cap of 80 with a few miles of elevated parkland is a compelling future direction as the population contuinues to grow in areas adjacent to the raised highway:

    All in time.

  2. It seems to be in style to have a grid pattern on the skin of a building. What’s it like to look out from the inside?

  3. i really like this design, and am ecstatic that the zoning got raised to 240. Now, if we could only start getting western SOMA upzoned

  4. Let’s build something wacky looking, ONLY for the sake of satisfying all the armchair critics who wants something wacky.

    Surely that will make us world class now.

    1. If you think this bright, bold design is “wacky,” I can only imagine what you would have said about the UN complex back in the 50’s.

      1. Oh, I personally don’t think it’s “wacky” at all, but interesting. But there are plenty of others who constantly whine for something to be “edgy, wacky, etc”, because it would make us “world class”.

        It’s like they just want a big ass selfie of architecture to make them feel good.

  5. Maybe I’m missing something – but why so much height immediately adjacent to freeway on-ramps and off-ramps? When parcels 1 to 2 blocks away are not even zoned for half the height? It seems like it sets up unnecessary vehicle pedestrian conflicts at key intersections. Causing injuries to pedestrians and traffic delays to vehicles. Wouldn’t it make sense to have the lots 1 to 2 blocks away up zoned? Or are they not owned by the politically connected?

    1. I guess I am missing something in your remarks. What does a building’s height have to do with “unnecessary pedestrian conflicts” at key intersections? If what you are trying to say is that greater density could potentially lead to increased traffic congestion, well, yes, but then you could have no congestion by building nothing, which is not an ideal solution. A certain amount of congestion is a sign of success. If you have no congestion, then that means you have no people, which is a very bad thing for the economic and social viability of any district.

  6. All this talk about growth and density in the SoMa is a bit loony if you don’t address the pedestrian experience first. If you lived in the SoMa one of the first things you would notice is how narrow the sidewalks are. How overcrowded the sidewalks are during peak commute hours. Specifically 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Townsend ,Brannan, Bryant, Harrison, Folsom, Howard streets.

    Take a walk from Market street along 4th, 3rd, or 2nd to Townsend during the morning or evening commute hours M~F. Wall to wall or curb to curb humanity overcrowding the sidewalks. Masses of humanity standing at corner crossing forcing folks to walk into bus lanes or vehicle travel lanes.

    And you growth folks want to add more density, both office and residential to this part of the city. You’re nuts. How about we widen the sidewalks first, before we approve higher density projects in the SoMa not after we approve these projects. How about adding mid block pedestrian crossings on Brannan, Bryant, Harrison, Folsom, Howard streets between 2nd and 3rd, 3rd and 4th, 2nd and 1st, 2nd and Delancy, How about building corner bulb-outs at key intersections to handle the already overcrowded pedestrian situation.

    How about we do all the above before we approve any up zoning in the SoMa?

    [Editor’s Note: The Plan to Transform Central SoMa’s Streets.]

    1. Great “draft plan”. How about mandating improvements into development approvals or incorporating improvements into the up zoning approvals.

      If you don’t force the improvements onto the developers you end up with Rincon Hill. Same sidewalks same problems.

      1. Exactly. Development (more) should be tied to concurrent infrastructure improvement. Otherwise a disaster is in the making. SOMA can’t sustain the growth the central SOMA plan allows for. The jobs/housing disparity is a crime IMO and, needs to be rectified. Office over-development is making things worse as this project will. Maybe its time for a 10 year moratorium on major new office construction in the city.

        Given the influence development folks have on the city government, its doubtful the SOMA plan will be rolled back or office development significantly slowed – short a reaction against it by city residents.

        1. There is already something called Prop M, perhaps the most restrictive commercial office cap in the nation.

          There is not much that can get built since the roll-over Prop M cap is used up. The voters recently approved an exemption for the redevelopment of Candelstick Park, and that is a master-planned community with new infrastructure and new housing being built, and that is where you will see all the new office growth since developer’s won’t have to junk through the Prop M hoop, the area is right by the freeway, and land us cheaper there.

          Central SOMA will not see a build out for about 25-30 years, so relax.

          And, there will be no moratorium. The city needs the revenue, now more than ever with the looming budget crisis. And, the real estate developers will be more than happy to take out anyone who tries to champion one, that person will likely find themselves joining Jimmy Hoffa.

      1. Yeah and NYC has sidewalks are twice as wide as those in the SoMa. Just look at the difference between north of Market and south of Market. North of Market is similar to NYC. South of Market not so much.

        Some history about the SoMa. The South of Market was developed with 90% industrial use. Rail box cars and Army tanks use to roll down the streets from warehouse to warehouse. Rail road tracks ran out to the piers and along the Embaracdero to the massive piers and warehouse shed buildings at the waters edge. There are still railway tracks in many of the streets around South Beach and East SoMa.

        Most industrial buildings took up entire blocks. One 2 acer building might have 25 workers total. Today many of these exiting building have been converted into livework lofts or office. If office there could be as many as 300 ~ 400 workers occupying a 300,000 sq ft building. There could be 50~75 workers crammed into a 2000 sq ft building.

        Central SoMa plan (CSP) envisions up zoning 230+- acres without public infrastructure improvements embedded in the proposed up zoning. No widening of sidewalks, no bulb outs at intersections. Sure there is a “draft plan” for infrastructure but no teeth to make sure it’s gets built. If approved it proved to be a disaster for pedestrians and residents living in and around the SoMa. Remember this post. I will be back to say I told you so.

  7. What’s up with 759 Harrison? Per the site plan in the previous post, it’s not incorporated into the new building and it looks like they are going to build around it, spite wall and all. Holding out for a better deal?

  8. The sidewalks are an issue that could be resolved if the city was not so beholding to developers. What should happen is create a sidewalk POPOS mandate for the Central SOMA area. The buildings set back say 10 feet from the public sidewalk line. This counting towards the POPOS mandate. Easy way to help ameliorate the sidewalk issue, but the pro-development group at City Hall would never countenance it.

    1. This would be a simple, easy solution. So many of the POPOS aren’t publicized or used anyway. If you made them into widening the sidewalk, everyone would get the benefit.

    2. Alternatively we could just get rid of some street parking, but that would be insufficiently suburban for downtown san francisco.

        1. downtown SF is too accommodating of suburbanite car commuters: elevated freeways with many on/off ramps connected by wide roadways to plentiful underpriced parking. Almost like by design and with the imprint of a half century (~1930s-1980s) of purposeful car-oriented development.

          1. 1. The elevated freeways are not going away. Can you imagine the chaos and gridlock IF all that above grade traffic were at grade?
            2. Traffic is increasing even downtown, NOT from suburban commuters from from Uber, Lyft and other car sharing services.

          2. SF could reduce traffic in the CBD by raising the price of parking. Fancier and more complex congestion schemes could also be effective.

            I don’t expect SF to teardown more elevated freeways, at least not for many years. I do expect that eventually (being a looong time) the remainder of the Central Freeway will be removed and possibly the last half mile or two of 280.

            Uber/Lyft/etc have definitely added to the congestion in the SF CBD. Suburban commuters, including SF residents that live and/or work in suburbs, have also added to the congestion during the current boom/recovery/growth/endtimes. The AM and PM commute peak start earlier and end later. FWIW, it shows in the bridge and fwy traffic stats and it enhances RE values in the more suburban areas of SF south of the worst 101/280 congestion enroute to/from the SV, such as Noe Village, Glen Park, Bernal,….

          3. I agree with Jake. SF is nowhere near road capacity. The problem is that we use that capacity inefficiently.

  9. It looks like a blob with the same unfortunate diamond pattern that desecrates the Neiman Marcus store. It should at least be more slender. Yes, in SF only the politically connected get their parcels upzoned. Disgusting.

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