While Planning had balked at the original plans for the redevelopment of the historic Central SoMa Tres (now Merhado) building at 130 Townsend Street and the parking lot at 100 Stanford Street behind, which occupies the remainder of the former Inglenook Vineyard warehouse parcel, Presidio Bay Ventures was pushing ahead with a refined design and approach,as we revealed last year.

The refined approach envisions a modern four-story addition rising up to 65 feet in height behind the existing building’s façade, yielding 34,800 square feet of new office space and 1,800 square feet of ground floor restaurant/retail space fronting Townsend, with a new five-story and “completely autonomous” building rising on the parking lot parcel behind, yielding an additional 46,500 square feet of office space and 711 square feet of PDR.

While the overall development would yield a total of over 80,000 square feet of new office space, which is well above the “small office” project threshold of 49,999 square feet, as defined and restricted by San Francisco’s Proposition M, the project team is angling to qualifying for two separate, and less limited, “small office” allocations.

And as further refined by Page & Turnbull, along with Stanton Architecture, and newly rendered below, the proposed redevelopment of 130 Townsend and the 100 Stanford site, which has since qualified for a streamlined environmental review, is expected to be granted a Certificate of Appropriateness from San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission later this week, which would clear the way for the project to be approved as proposed.

18 thoughts on “Redevelopment of Historic Central SoMa Site Closer to Reality”
  1. This is a very handsome project but I’m surprised that the developer is going forward with it as office space and not life science/lab space. The latter would have required significant design changes. My guess is once approved this entitlement will be put up for sale. As to office space – Zynga announced just last week it is exiting its headquarters from SF and putting almost 200K feet of office space up for sublease at it’s 650 Townsend – its soon to be former headquarters.

    1. Despite some recent (mis)reports making the rounds, the recent surge in proposals for “lab” projects isn’t being driven by a spike in demand for traditional lab or life science space, at least not in San Francisco proper.

      The existing limits and zoning controls for “office” developments in San Francisco don’t apply to “lab” space, space which can be leased to tech companies that might otherwise occupy traditional office space, similar to how Adobe inked a marque lease for “PDR” space within the innovation center at 100 Hooper.

      1. SF is not getting much of the bio-tech play for all the obvious reasons. Still, some developments like Mission Rock are pivoting to lab space as a safer bet. 88 Bluxome in a desperate effort to get something built wants to convert to lab space but to do so the tennis courts previously promised would have to be nixed. Lawsuit brewing there is the City grants the shift from office to lab space.

        Overall biotech/lab is in huge demand with almost all of the space set to open up in the near future taken. SSF is considering a massive 1 million foot development on El Camino as demand for more space is spurring new development in SSF, the Peninsula, Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda. But yeah, not so much SF.

          1. Tax situation is a major one. The hoped for biotech hub that was supposed to form around Mission Bay never happened. Biotech companies kept heading to/expanding in SSF (and now Berkeley/Oakland/Alameda). Brisbane’s Badlands (aka Baylands) development will have almost 9 million feet targeted to life science uses. Yet, a hop and a skip away, HP’s CP/HP development was unable to get buy-in from biotech companies. To the point where at one time they were considering using a big chunk of the millions of feet of space for educational uses.

        1. there is massive expansion going on now in SSF, more than 2M sq ft. not many companies want to put labs in SF. however, SF office space now cheaper for biotech companies than SSF.

          1. It’s even more than 2 million feet planned for SSF. Add in the new proposal for a million feet on El Camino (across from See’s Candy factory) and look to see the eastern side of El Camino in SSF and San Bruno add affectional millions of feet of life science space. Too there is almost 9 million feet planned in Brisbane. Big increase in housing demand around SSF – IMO the HP/CP project should be converted to all housing to help alleviate the housing demand from SSF and further south.

    1. Real estate can be a racket but it can also be a way for folks of modest means to acquire wealth and take advantage of tax breaks usually not available to the middle class.

      As to PDR space, any new PDR construction will be expensive and require high rents to make it feasible for developers. A better option is to take existing buildings and convert them to PDR. Smaller and older buildings that dot the Central SOMA and that may sit idle for a long time as the massive amount of office space planned for the area is not likely to come to pass.

  2. It is possible to successfully add a modern extension on top of an existing building but this design is, I suggest, a mess.

    Currently the extension is proposed to be a glass block plus a cubic mass of a different appearance. A uniform appearance for the extension with setback would be less intrusive

  3. Are they really proposing changing almost all of the window cut-outs for the “historic” portion in this latest refinement, or did they just horizontally compress the image or something?

  4. I run a life sciences real estate blog and used to work behind this building on Brannan Street. Fully agree with earlier comments that biotech tenants will not have much interest here. Never mind South City, many are going further down the peninsula to San Carlos, with rents now topping $70/sq ft there vs. $45-$50/sq ft in SoMa and Mission Bay. Some of this is traditional industry preference to be near downtown, but not in it, another is huge CAM/tax/maintenance charges to be within SF limits.

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