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SF’s proposed fourth-tallest building shrinks, cuts housing

Developers seek general plan change for Pelli Clarke Pelli tower design

An illustration of high-rise towers in San Francisco, with a suspension bridge in the foreground.
The proposed future SF skyline, including the Parcel F building (at left) and the still-unfinished Oceanwide Center.
Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli architects

The proposed Howard Street tower, which would be San Francisco’s fourth-tallest building, remains as tall as ever, but its interior functions have dwindled over the years, with the latest round of specs shaving off space and shedding planned housing.

The triumvirate of developers pushing to build on Transbay Parcel F will ask the San Francisco Planning Commission this week to approve a series of changes to relevant zoning plans.

The tower at 542-550 Howard—across the street from Salesforce Tower, and designed by the same firm, Pelli Clarke Pelli—has been in the works for over three years, ever since real estate firm Hines, Goldman Sachs affiliate Broad Street, and Urban Pacific Development teamed up to buy the land for $160 million in 2016.

In early 2018, the 61-story tower design called for 170 units of housing, but the package up for consideration at Thursday’s hearing has cut that back to 165.

While the loss of five homes over two years isn’t that remarkable, the original plans for the project had 200 units, meaning that the housing attrition rate on Parcel F is now pretty significant since 2016.

The rest of the building has contracted, too. Previously there was a 210-room hotel offered, now it’s down to 189 rooms. The former 251,000 square feet of office space has reduced to 240,000 square feet. And the retail element has diminished from 9,000 square feet to 8,700 square feet.

The pedestrian bridge to Salesforce Park is still there, though.

Thursday’s amendments are mostly technical changes: swapping some height limits on neighboring plots and rezoning some parts of some lots to eliminate unevenness across the planned build site and reaving “a single, uniform zoning district.”

But since the request would mean making changes to the city’s general plan, the arduous process will run up the clock on the proposal.

Presently, nothing sits on the Parcel F site. It was previously used to store equipment and other necessaries for the construction of Salesforce Tower, and was the last big plots of Transbay land that the city sold.