A near-twin for the Salesforce tower of SF? This is what a developer wants to build 3 blocks away

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The development company that designed the Salesforce Tower now offers a three-block residential tower that, if approved, would only be a few feet shorter than this skylight-crowned landmark.

The 800-unit apartment building at 50 Main Street would use the state-provided density bonuses for affordable housing to climb to 1,066 feet – just four feet lower than the Salesforce Tower, which when opened in 2018, passed the Transamerica pyramid that dominated the skyline for decades. at 853 feet.

Developer Hines is scheduled to present a project to the San Francisco Planning Department on Wednesday that updates a September proposal that would have itself risen 800 feet. The site is zoned for 400 feet in height – but Hines officials say they have since discovered that the bonus to boost construction of affordable housing allows even more height than they initially thought.

“With this scale, it really gives us the chance to make great amenities, create a unique building and create affordable housing,” said Paul Paradis, senior general manager of the Hines office in San Francisco. Hines then sold the controlling interest in the project to Boston Properties.

The proposed height could also be controversial as it undermines the broader planning concept that the Salesforce Tower should be the undisputed centerpiece of the skyline, as it signals the importance of public transportation, as the presence shows. from the publicly funded Salesforce transit center below.

The state bonus prevents the local government from modifying a project in a way that could be seen as anti-housing. Still, planners aren’t ready to endorse Hines’ towering plans without further scrutiny.

“I really like what they come up with, and this site can take on extra heights if it’s well designed,” said Rich Hillis, city planning director. “But we have to look at the larger context, and what they assume is the basis” of what Hines is allowed in terms of extra density and height.

Not only would the proposed tower redefine the city’s skyline if built, it is also part of Hines’ larger plans to redo the 3-acre high-visibility block between Market, Main, Mission and Beale streets. which, until this year, housed the headquarters of PG&E.

The tower, which would include 160 apartments for low-income residents, would replace a two-level parking garage at 50 Main Street. Two historic mid-rise buildings along Market Street would be fully restored and brought up to current building standards. The largest structure in the block, a 35-story tower on Beale and Mission streets from 1971, would be stripped of its masonry skin and then rebuilt to meet 21st century seismic standards.

Perhaps more importantly for workers and nearby residents, nearly a third of the block would be turned into outdoor spaces open to the public according to Hines’ proposal.

The proposed master plan transforms the bowels of the block, now cluttered with electrical equipment and storage space, into a redwood-strewn plaza linked to a wide courtyard overlooking Beale Street and lanes leading to Main Street, and across the historic buildings to the market. Above the Main and Mission loading docks, the design includes an open-air podium accessible by the amphitheater stairs from inside the block.

Paradis argues that the new landscapes more than compensate for the wintry shadows that 50 Main Tower would cast on public parks to the north during the winter. Due to a voter-approved ordinance dating back to the 1980s, almost all new shadows on public spaces are prohibited unless approved by the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

“We’re going to create shadows, but I don’t see it as an insurmountable problem. We also create many multiples of sunny park spaces, ”said Paradis. And even if it would be privately owned, “you would just have to walk right into the sidewalk.”

The designs at this point are vague. The renderings of 50 Main in the proposal show it on the skyline, a slender rectangular counterpart of the Salesforce Tower, more like an obelisk. It would also have tiles or other coverings, rather than metal and glass.

The public spaces would be designed by PWP Landscape Architecture of Berkeley, who also created the popular park atop the Salesforce Transit Center. The residential tower is designed by Foster + Partners, the international company headed by Englishman Lord Norman Foster.

Foster was the architect of Apple’s futuristic circular headquarters in Cupertino, as well as the tech company’s flagship store in Union Square. The company previously designed another tower that would have been the second tallest in San Francisco – a 900-foot office building that opened near 1st and Mission streets in 2016, but it lay dormant for almost two years. .

Hines’ conceptual design would also allow each unit to have a triangular balcony. They would not protrude from the tower, Paradis said, but would add “a more three-dimensional feel, while satisfying people’s thirst for outdoor space,” a hint of shifting public priorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The outdoor space is also included in the planned renovation of the tower on Beale and Mission streets. The 30-foot-high lobby would open onto the adjacent sidewalks as a sort of winter garden, and the top of the well would be screened to allow a large roof terrace for tenants.

The masonry skin of the tower, meanwhile, would be removed and replaced with a more contemporary, energy-efficient facade designed by Connecticut firm Pickard Chilton. It would also allow Hines to renovate the interior structure, which predates the Codes to help towers withstand earthquakes.

“We will keep the basic bones,” Paradis said. “But once we get the skin off, they’ll need a lot of work.”

The project schedule aims to get city approvals by the end of next year.

John King is the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. Email: jking@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @johnkingsfchron



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