By Meghan Hall
San Francisco has seen its need for housing and development grow exponentially since the tech boom as the Bay Area’s top companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp have expanded their presence in the Bay Area to include offices within San Francisco’s city limits. The number of proposed high-rise buildings within the city has also grown as useable space is snapped up; as of January 2018, there were 18 high-rises under construction for both new office and residential space in San Francisco, and a recent proposal submitted by property owner Wendy Hemming would add another to the mix in one of San Francisco’s hottest neighborhoods.
The City responded to a Hemming’s application to construct a 44-story mixed-use high rise at 540 Howard Street with a Preliminary Project Assessment in early August. In the project assessment, the City encourages Hemming to work closely with the applicant seeking to redevelop Parcel F, located next door at 546 Howard Street, due to the close proximity of the developments. The City also directed Hemming and the developer to consider San Francisco’s South Downtown Design and Activation Plan in designing the project’s streetscape as part of a greater effort to improve city walkways.
The site is located at the heart of the San Francisco, just a short walk from the Montgomery BART Station, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Union Square. Perhaps most importantly, the site is right next to the Transbay Transit Center, which just opened last month in August of 2018. Several other major technology companies are located nearby including Slack, BlackRock and LinkedIn.
The site is surrounded by numerous other projects, including the recently renovated Salesforce Tower—formerly known as the Transbay Tower—and Park Tower, which will be 43 stories in height and whose completion is anticipated for the end of 2018. 540 Howard is just one of three massive projects currently in the pipeline on the 500 block of Howard Street. The other two, a 60 story mixed-use tower at 550 Howard Street has been proposed by Hines and Urban Pacific Development while Crescent Heights has received approval for a 48 story residential high rise at 524 Howard Street.
The proposed project would demolish the current three-story-over-basement commercial building which includes 43,000 square feet of retail and office space, which currently is home to the Temple Nightclub. In its place, a new 495-foot tall tower would be constructed and contain a total of 312,000 square feet of space.
The mixed-use high-rise would include 149 dwelling units, 52,400 square feet of office space and 8,400 square feet of retail space. Plans for 89 vehicle parking spaces are included for both residential and non-residential units, as are 123 Class 1 and 12 Class 2 bicycle parking spaces.
A formal project application has yet to be submitted, but the application process must also include several important and time-consuming steps, including a transportation impact study and an environmental assessment. City of San Francisco Planning Department’s Communication Manager Gina Simi was unable to give a timeline for how much time remained in the planning process and the potential approval of the project. Hemming could not be reached for comment.