Hines Plans to Own Mini Water District for New Development in San Francisco, Will Start Office Development on Speculative Basis

Hines, San Francisco, CBRE, PWP Landscape Architecture
Image courtesy of Hines, Pickard Chilton, Foster + Partners, PWP Landscape Architecture, Kendall/Heaton

By Jon Peterson

Developing a small nature sanctuary with California coastal redwoods can be challenging if you try to do it in the middle of San Francisco. This is why Hines is planning to establish its own mini water district for its proposed new office and apartment development as part of its plans to redevelop the former PG&E headquarters located at 50 Main Street.

“Our plan is for us to plant 75 redwood trees in the mini-block oasis that we will be creating, and that is why we will have our own water district. I believe this might be one of the first times that Hines has done this with one of its new development projects,” says Paul Paradis, senior managing director for Hines in its San Francisco office.

The development firm understands the constraints imposed by the current drought conditions that exist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and this plan is the company’s attempt to mitigate that. “Our plan is to use recycled water for the block where the trees are, and that [will be achieved by] either using black or grey water. We would end up using less than half the amount of water you would normally use,” said Paradis.

The landscape architect on the tree part of the project is PWP Landscape Architecture. This is the same firm that designed urban Salesforce Park in San Francisco that sits on top of the newly developed station adjacent to the Salesforce Tower. The forest would be available from three sides of the property and would take up 70 percent of the project’s block.

The project just went through its first public meeting with the San Francisco Planning Commission, where Hines presented an overview of the project’s latest design. A potential final approval on the new development could take place sometime during the first quarter of 2023.

Hines is planning to start the development of the office portion on a speculative basis. This would include the development of 1.5 million square feet of space. “One thing that we have noticed about the office market in San Francisco is that the leases that are being signed [today] are with newer and very high-quality buildings, which our project will represent. Rents on this type of space have held steady,” said Paradis.

The new office development by Hines will be a good test for the San Francisco office market. The overall vacancy in the region is 25 percent, which places it at a higher point than even the dot-com bust that occurred two decades ago. It is likely that the new development by Hines will not be completed for three to four years. The developer has awarded the office leasing assignment for the office project to the San Francisco office of CBRE, according to Hines.

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