Transbay: The Center of it All

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Transbay San Francisco The Registry real estate 2

The terminal’s exterior will feature undulating perforated aluminum that lets people outside see in. It will have four levels—one underground for trains, a concourse, a ground level with a Grand Hall and Light Column that allows in natural light, and a bus level above ground. On top will be City Park, a 5.4-acre green roof with an amphitheater, gardens, a trail, grassy areas and lily ponds.

[contextly_sidebar id=”51a94e81d8e06426c4e0cca721cc1e85″]In recent years, technology companies, startups and others have led the migration south of Market Street. Office rents in the South Financial District south of Market Street lagged those in the North Financial District until 2010, when the current real estate boom started. But by the first quarter of 2013, the average full-service gross rent in the South Financial District had climbed to $53.14 a square foot versus $51.98 in the North Financial District, said Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis for Northern California at CBRE Group Inc., a real estate services firm.

Now non-tech businesses are attracted to south of Market structures that offer open, flexible floor plans, water views and proximity to mass transit. Buildings opening in the next several years near the terminal, where transit access will be enhanced, will likely command rents starting in the mid-$60s to more than $100 a square foot a year for the best views in the top offices, Yasukochi said.

At a minimum, the private sector is expected to invest roughly $2 billion to construct about 3 million square feet of office space close to the transit center, assuming a cost of about $650 a square foot, he estimated. That’s a sizable addition to the approximately 20 million square feet now in the South Financial District, he said.

The most iconic newcomer will be the 60-story Transbay tower at 101 First St., just north of the transit center. This past spring, Boston Properties Inc. and Hines purchased 50,000 square feet of land from the TJPA for $192 million—a San Francisco land record at $4,000 a square foot. With Boston Properties as 95 percent owner, the developers plan a 1.4 million-square-foot tower for about $1 billion, or $714 a square foot.

Also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the curvaceous glass and metal obelisk will stand 1,070 feet tall, with its crown illuminated at night.  Plans call for it to be completed in 2016, succeeding the Transamerica Pyramid and the Bank of America buildings as San Francisco’s highest. “It’s going to be the marker for transit in San Francisco,” said Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, TJPA executive director. “It will provide a wonderful luminescent building you’ll see from all points.”

The skyscraper offers companies a chance to create an urban, vertical campus. The tower will have floor-to-floor heights of 14-feet, nine-inches, with 25,000-square-foot floor plates and column-free space of 43 feet to 45 feet measured from core to façade. Clear ceiling heights will be up to 12 feet, more than in many existing buildings. The arrangement accommodates a higher density of workers than older, more traditional office space.

Mirjam Link, project manager for development at Boston Properties, expects several anchor tenants to lease 300,000 square feet to 500,000 square feet each, as well as a variety of smaller tenants.

There will be 28 elevators and a generous number of restrooms. While the building code requires two stairways, three are planned so that tenants occupying multiple floors can have one for internal circulation with finer materials and finishes. Anchor tenants might also secure their own dedicated elevator banks.

The building will have raised floors with exterior louvers to let in fresh air through ducts running under each floor to the building’s core, where the air will be heated or cooled before being circulated. All cables, wires, ducts and other hardware for heating, air conditioning and electricity will be installed below each floor. “It is much better air quality. It’s also more energy efficient,” Link said.

The tower will link to the terminal’s rooftop park via a fifth-floor patio with seating and retail such as coffee and snack shops. There may be amenities such as a gym on the fifth floor. A public elevator will connect City Park to another public open area, Mission Square, at street level.

The tower’s location will make it a landmark. “There will be a combination of commercial and residential uses that will make San Francisco more and more of a 24-7 city. It’s a new type of neighborhood that’s going to be much different,” said Bob Pester, senior vice president and regional manager for Boston Properties.

Also north of the transit center, Boston Properties is constructing a 27-story office building of 307,000 square feet at 535 Mission St. The company purchased the site for $71 million and expects to spend $215 million total to complete the edifice by fall 2014.

Further north will be 350 Mission St., a 30-story structure of 450,000 square feet to be completed in early 2015. Kilroy Realty Corp. purchased the site for $52 million and will spend about $275 million overall to construct the building designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP as San Francisco’s first ground-up LEED Platinum structure. It will have a five-story lobby with a 75-by-45-foot digital media wall plus showers, bike lockers and electric car parking spaces. In December, Salesforce.com Inc. leased the entire building.

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Photography by Laura Kudritzki

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