While the approved plans to expand Fox Plaza remain on hold, the Plaza’s new ownership team is about to launch a two-pronged renovation project “to greatly improve the appearance” of its 29-story tower.

In addition to a fresh coat of paint, new exterior lights will be added to the spandrels on the north and south sides of the tower, running from the ground to its rooftop (which will be illuminated along with the tower’s 13th floor).

And while not taking any particular exception to the plans per se, as noted by a plugged-in resident and tipster, management’s positioning of the project to residents, to “assist in [the] gentrification” of the neighborhood, might read as a little tone-deaf in light of the ongoing challenges facing the surrounding area and city as a whole.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    Rents back way back were $920 a month for a studio with a pull-man kitchen and noise blaring through the walls.

    I remember talking to the developer/manager about “re-skinning” the building as a prior SOM building. They finally started and did the basement, and now are thinking about the tower… Has a great funky roof deck for the residents, but its hard to get into for views.

    • Posted by pal

      The building was in good shape last time I was in there, it’s just designed like an Oklahoma hospital or something.

  2. Posted by Notcom

    I would have thought the exterior was anodized (or enameled, or some other semi-permanent finish): “painting” just seems like a completely inappropriate finish system for a building of this size…and seldom a durable one (beyond a few years).

    • Posted by SFMichael

      I’m not even sure it could be done in a way that wouldn’t make the building look worse even in the short term.

  3. Posted by Tony

    They’re just pissed off that their units are only really worth half what they’re trying to rent them for. I considered renting there way back, but was shocked at what they’re asking for. Who wants to pay that much to live in the crappiest part of Civic Center?!

    • Posted by Dr. Pants

      I know someone in the apartment side. They are rent controlled so really, who’s laughing now? Decent location, I heard of someone on the same floor as the friend that pays sub 1k month.

      • Posted by sculpey

        There are still a few old-timers who have lived there for decades, but, of course, fewer every year (RIP).

        I personally have a one bedroom at well below half the going rate. That makes up for a lot of style compromises in my view. And while I know there are many land owners here who decry how RC limits their “fair” profits, Essex is not an entity that I feel any sorrow toward on that score.

  4. Posted by John Y

    Does no one remember that it was fully painted within the last 10 years? It didn’t really help.

    [Editor’s Note: As we noted eight years ago…]

    • Posted by Notcom

      This is what happens when you do things on the cheap; years ago, when “Big Stan” started molting, management bit the bullet – all the way thru, I’m guessing, based on the ~$70M cost – and had it reclad properly.

      Of course this isn’t a structural failure – it’s more of a failure of imagination and penny-pinching – but it still seems to be the difference b/w what gets w/ a trophy building (in Chicago) and a second tier buiding in our little fishing village.

    • Posted by Mstislav Skrapootnik

      The last paint job helped a lot. It had been an awful and depressing brown before. The lighter color is a big improvement and I hope they stick with it.

  5. Posted by Patrick

    Lipstick on a pig.

  6. Posted by BobN


    • Posted by Frisco

      The horizontal beams on each floor.

  7. Posted by Cody

    In the picture you can see scaffolding wrapped in plastic – this is the seismic upgrade happening with work being done in the basement parking garage (2 stories) to the 21st floor in apartments (work in the apartment area scheduled to end November 3rd).

    Balcony floors will be resurfaced as there are problems with iron in the floors expanding which has cracked the concrete.

    Iron railings are to be painted, which are currently from what I am told are aluminum & look like bronze. From what I have seen they are in pristine condition so don’t know why they would be painted. Makes no sense to me.

    Redwood Credit Union will be moving into the low-rise in about 3 months which means they will have a lease, so do not expect to see that portion of the building changing anytime soon.

    The building is owned by two entities, the apartment section from floors 14-29 is owned by Essex.

    The business lobby is slated for a remodel – again!

    • Posted by Pioneer

      I hope they don’t change that beautiful fountain in the lobby. The soothing sound relaxes me when I go to my dentist there in that hectic neighborhood.

  8. Posted by Jon

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the City lease most of this building both for office space (lower half) and halfway housing (upper half).

  9. Posted by Miraloma Man

    Maybe some nice shutters and some really big Tuscan columns? Oh, and a red tile roof, like Stanford.

  10. Posted by David A Fairbanks

    This is a 1960’s tower and a new generation rejects it out of hand. What is needed is a serious color change that erases the 20th century feel. Add a new rooftop perhaps glass of some sort and then tear down the plaza building and build a sleek low rise that calls out to the 21st century None of this will be easy but a dedicated architect might do it. Lights and a tone deaf paint job will hasten the property demise.

  11. Posted by goodmaab50

    re-skinning can be successful, the prior replacement/addition proposed was pretty horrible, cladding redesign was not a good image/rendering done by the prior Essex proposal.

  12. Posted by MDG399

    ugly no matter what

  13. Posted by Cody

    1) Rent on an upper floor facing west was $180 in 1970 for a studio. In 2018 about $2,000 for a studio.

    2) The walls are well insulated against sound. If music can be heard from another apartment it is because the neighbor has his music/tv volume set at a very high volume

    3) It was one of the first buildings with mixed use, apartments and businesses. If all of the buildings in the last 50 years had been built with mixed use we probably would not have the crisis of too little housing. The Fox Plaza was 50 years old last year.

    • Posted by ?Paul ? Didio

      As many people as possible should go to city Council about this building something needs to be done besides a new paint job and adding lights . This building is by far one of the biggest eyesores . That should be reskinned like 100 Van Ness .

  14. Posted by NeMa Resident

    Oh my god the new lights are terrible. Was this project actually reviewed? They’re absolutely blindly bright and have to be hell for anyone living in a unit facing the building, of which they are a lot. You can see the glow from it all the way over in hayes valley even without a direct line of site.

  15. Posted by Robin

    The light is too intense. Definitely needs to be toned down if they’re going to keep doing it.

  16. Posted by Mark Howard

    Clearly some of us did a search on this building to understand the new exterior lighting. I live in Alamo Square and the lights are so bright they cause glare in my apartment. Way too bright and frankly horrendous visually!

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