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Duck and Cover! City to Raise Building Heights, Make Bank

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Brace, NIMBYs and Acrophobics among you: San Francisco's skyline will soon rise up triumphantly from the depths of blocked views, earthquake fears, and neighborhood in-fighting; the city will announce a new urban development plan on Wednesday that focuses on skyscrapers planned for the South of Market area, near the Transbay Terminal site and First and Mission Streets. Stay low to the ground, people, as officials are likely to champion more than one scheme for skyscrapers exceeding the city's current 550-foot height limit (The 853-foot Transamerica Pyramid ruined the party for everyone— following its construction in 1972, city buildings haven't exceeded 650 feet in height.) The overall planning process is expected to take 18 months, so fire up your protest engines now.

Why the push? (Cue: Diddy's "It's All About the Benjamins") Taller buildings yield higher tax rates which can— and will— be flipped right into construction costs for the the Transbay Terminal Center. It's all over from there: at 1,200 feet, Pelli Clarke Pelli's new tower will stand as the tallest building west of Chicago. Given that the Transbay area is already riddled with skyscrapers, planners aren't expecting to see the same backlash against the tower as was felt when the Transamerica was built or, more recently, One Rincon fell under its nabe's wrath. City planners have called the Transbay plans an "incremental tweak" to "what is already there." And we all know how well San Francisco copes with tweakers, right?
· Reaching for the sky South of Market [SF Gate]