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Planning Department says no to Montgomery Street tower

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Bank shot blocked

Back in August, we brought you news of a potential new addition to the Financial District skyline, a 33-story, 500-foot tower serving as a hotel, condos, or both, rising up in the same One Montgomery complex that houses the gorgeous old bank at Montgomery and Post.

It would be a rare, big north-of-Market downtown development, and another feather in the hat of a block that already has several landmark buildings.

But not if the Planning Department has anything to say about it, because the preliminary assessment released yesterday is a big no on this one.

This does not, of course, necessarily scuttle the whole affair. For one thing, the department recommendation isn’t technically necessary for any new building. Still, failing its standards is a pretty big albatross.

City planners don’t like the idea of upzoning the site to 500 feet. They don’t like that it will cast shadows on public spaces and lead to a net loss in public space. And they don’t like that it will require demolishing some historic assets.

In short, they don’t like the proposed tower for most of the reasons San Franciscans usually don’t like new high-rises.

The letter suggests that developers stick to the building code, and to drive the point home it highlights a few code particulars, like the parts about “the need for human comfort in design of open spaces,” “care in remodeling older buildings to enhance rather than weaken their original character,” and “respect the character of older development nearby.”

Ouch.

Obviously, if New York-based developer 601W Cos. wants that crucial Planning Department recommendation before going to the city with the design, they’re going to have to rethink this one from the ground up.