Big Development Plans Take Root in San Francisco as JMA Ventures Submits Plans for $346MM, 52-Story High-Rise

JMA Ventures, San Francisco, Hearst Building, Heart Corporation, Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Rendering Courtesy of San Francisco Planning Deparment

By Meghan Hall

Developers and property owners are still putting plenty of stock in the health of San Francisco’s future and proposing large-scale projects that will alter the city’s skyline. At the end of August, local real estate investment firm JMA Ventures has proposed a 52-story mixed-use tower, which will replace the current Hearst Parking Center along Third Avenue. 

The project, according to a preliminary planning application filed with the City of San Francisco, will cost $346 million to construct. The development will be designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. Plans call not just for 354 residential units, which will be both for-rent and for-sale, 313 hotel rooms and 50,000 square feet of office space. 313,590 square feet of retail space is also part of the plans. An additional 13,920 square feet of common open space will be available for residents, and JMA Ventures has allocated for 304 parking spaces.

“The proposed 600’ tall tower will join other new landmark towers as one of San Francisco’s most important skyline-defining works of architecture,” explains the project narrative. “It’s location, at Third Street and Stevenson, is at the epicenter of San Francisco’s 21st century cultural, employment, transit and urban residential core. With the recent expansion of Moscone Center, it is also in one of America’s most important centers for visitors and hospitality. In response, the project has been designed as a vertically mixed-use tower to maximize its effectiveness in the global market as a top tier hotel property with event and meeting spaces, and to help meet the demand for much-needed housing.”

The hotel and residential uses will share a “compact core” according to project documents, which will provide room service and maintenance. The slender massing of the tower will allow for a large, column-free podium that will create enough space for a ballroom, large-format office layout and roof top outdoor deck. The landscaped roof will include a glass-enclosed swimming pool and recreation space to serve hotel guests and residents year-round.

The project’s base will be clad in white-pattern fritted glass that will provide some transparency to the activities occurring within. The podium will extend to the sidewalk with the upper levels of the tower setback further. The tower will be gently curved, tapering as it rises, and will be clad in a deep fenestration system of thin, white panes.

“The tower’s tapered, curving form will provide a unique, distinctive presence on San Francisco’s skyline,” explained SOM. “The architectural intent is to weave together San Francisco’s urban fabric, social and cultural life and the Bay’s ephemeral, poetic, qualities of natural light.”

At the pedestrian level, a publicly-accessible cultural great room on Jessie street will serve the SOMA Philipinas-Filipino Cultural Heritage District. It will connect to an Art Walk along Third Street, which will extend the length of the block. The Art Walk will be enclosed in a “membrane” of low-iron, super clear glass and folding glass panels. The panels will be able to open up to provide fresh air and space during good weather. The Art Walk will be filled with art, café tables and chairs, as well as other seating. An adjacent atrium will bring visitors up to the ballroom and meeting rooms via escalators.

“At the street level, we propose an active, highly-textured, and nuanced relationship between the local community, visitors, hotel guests and residents,” said project documents. “The tower will engage Third Street, the busiest traffic artery on the project site, with an Art Walk that extends the length of the block from Stevenson to Jessie Street.”

Located at 45-53 Third Street, the property is currently developed with the 11-story Hearst Parking Garage, owned by Hearst Corporation. The garage will be demolished to make way for the new development.

The redevelopment of the Hearst Parking Garage is not the first project that JMA Ventures and Hearst have worked on together. In April of 2019, plans to convert the historic Hearst Building into a hotel in downtown San Francisco won the approval of the Planning Commission. Once complete, the 1911 building located at 5 Third Street will include 170 hotel rooms. The construction cost for the project is expected to come in at around $126 million.

As of this writing, JMA Ventures had not yet returned The Registry’s request for comment.

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