555 Washington Developer Dealt a Blow

By Jessica Saunders

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors reversed the planning commission’s approval of the Environmental Impact Report for 555 Washington St., a proposed 430-foot, 38-story condominium tower near the Transamerica Pyramid. The April 20 decision came after a nearly five-hour public hearing on an appeal by residents of the surrounding neighborhood, who contended the EIR was flawed. The developer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The 430-foot project located in the Montgomery Financial District near the Transamerica Pyramid is sponsored by AEGON USA Realty Advisors, which also owns the San Francisco landmark.

Telegraph Hill dwellers contend the project Environmental Impact Report is “fundamentally flawed” and the public precluded from “meaningful” review and comment. The community interest group’s letter to the board cited 14 EIR findings, including an inadequate project description and project objective and failure to address the building’s impact on urban sprawl, land use, parking, transportation and shadows.

In an April 6 letter to board President David Chiu, developer Liberty Hill Development LLC President Andrew Segal urged the board to reject the appeal, saying it has spent five years in predevelopment including an “exhaustive” environmental study.

The Planning Commission voted 4-3 on March 18 to certify the project’s EIR.

Liberty Hill and Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, another developer, plan to demolish two buildings at 501-505 Washington St. and 545 Sansome St. to build a 332,000-square-foot residential building with 4,650 square feet of ground-floor retail, a mechanical penthouse and four levels of subsurface parking and 215 spaces and two car-share spaces. As part of the project, the sponsor would give nearby Redwood Park to the city and maintain it in perpetuity.