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Tall, stark new condo building aimed at Little Saigon

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Giant cubes design eschewed in favor of one huge block

Last year, developers put forward tentative plans for a pile of condos right in the midst of the Little Saigon strip of the Tenderloin at 719 Larkin Street.

The site, presently home to the Four Seasons Restaurant, Excellent Dry Cleaners, and Susan’s Massage, would be an 8-story, 42 unit building, with the standard retail (1,460 feet) on the bottom, at least as far as the original proposal goes.

Since then things have been quiet on that front, but architect Alan Tse tells Curbed SF that the building has been winding its way through the process and that developer JS Sullivan just received a new round of suggestions from Planning Department staff.

Most of the proposed changes would alter the ground floor layout but leave Tse’s design little changed on the outside, he says.

The original set of renderings offered with the April 2015 proposal showed a blocky building of protruding cube shapes, reminiscent of a dozen condo projects in the SOMA and Mission areas. It would please the presently popular Game of Tetris school of architecture, but was probably nothing to write home about.

Tse’s most recent design offers a much, much more severe and streamlined look. From the Larkin side, it’s one giant block shape with a checkerboard of windows and a glass encased ground floor. The lines on this rendering look so sharp they could probably cut glass themselves.

The longer Olive Street side is more of the same, though if you squint you can see that there’s a gap in the building halfway across.

It’s a pretty stark departure from the first gander. And though relatively short by the standards of other downtown neighborhoods, it would be an enormous presence in Little Saigon.

Will the city go for it? Stay tuned.