Deeds & Don'ts: Transbay Ascendant

The Inside Scoop on Bay Area Real Estate

San Francisco’s newest neighborhood is rapidly taking shape: The Transbay District and neighboring Rincon Hill, anchored by the $4.5 billion Transit Center, is speeding ahead with the promise of providing one of the greatest luxuries in the Bay Area—freedom from traffic—along with some of the best weather in the city and an easy stroll to the Embarcadero and waterfront. No fewer than 10 high-rise condominium projects are in the pipeline for the area, including several designed by globally recognized architecture firms. “With all the housing going in, it will be a very vibrant neighborhood,” says Realtor Matt Fuller, who tracks new condominium projects on the blog SF Modern Condos. “It will have all the amenities that are important to people.”

Of the five projects currently under construction, first to market is the Lumina, the largest condominium complex in the city with 656 units, located on Folsom Street, the neighborhood’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. Developer Tishman Speyer has brought back the Infinity’s architects (Miami-based Arquitectonica) to try and repeat that project’s success. Lumina enjoys the benefit of scale: a rooftop terrace with a movie lawn, a 70-foot-long indoor lap pool, a fitness center with a climbing wall, and a gourmet farmer’s market on the ground floor. At press time, the largest unit available was a 2,700-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom residence on the 28th floor with a view of the Bay Bridge for $5.35 million. (Penthouse units have not yet been released.) 

A more exclusive offering is 181 Fremont by Heller Manus, a 70-story tower with just 55 units ranging from 1,300 to 6,900 square feet on its top 16 floors (commercial offices are below). The fifth-floor retail spaces will connect to the Transbay’s marquee 5.4-acre rooftop park, scheduled to open in 2017.

Still pending are another five condo projects with international architecture heavyweights in the mix. Foster + Partners and OMA (the firm led by Rem Koolhaas) have unveiled their proposed designs for First and Mission and Transbay Block 8, respectively. The latter also features a structure by renowned San Francisco architect Ann Fougeron. The biggest buzz, though, is for 160 Folsom, another Tishman Speyer project with a lively design by architect Jeanne Gang that features rippling bay windows. Gang is responsible for Aqua, a sculptural 82-story tower that has become a Chicago icon. High-rise living is still a relatively new phenomenon in San Francisco, so time will tell how well it integrates with the urban fabric. 


On The Wall:
A rare listing abutting the historic Presidio Wall is being offered by Sotheby’s Janet Feinberg Schindler for just under $6.5 million. The semi-detached Victorian at 3878 Jackson Street has five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms, and was extensively renovated in 2013 to create stylish, transitional interiors: Highlights include a dining room with gold-foil ceiling and a glassed-in breakfast nook which looks out into the forested Presidio


Reigning Queen:
After undergoing extensive renovation, the 1889 Queen Anne at 1533 Sutter Street in Lower Pac Heights has become a grand single-family house with six bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms. The minimalist open kitchen and clean-lined bathrooms (check out the tranquil soaking tub in the master) are a wonderful counterpoint to the vibrant stained glass windows, moldings and other period details. It’s offered for $6.595 million by Ed Deleski at Vanguard Properties.


Villa of Fine Arts:
This 1925 Mediterranean-style home in Cow Hollow features views of one of the city’s architectural treasures. The five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom at 2622 Chestnut Street has an elegant street presence, three Palladian windows in the living room, and full views in the back of the Palace of Fine Arts. It’s represented by Janet Feinberg Schindler with Sotheby’s for just under $5 million


Noe Living:
Most historical homes don’t have great outdoor spaces, a deficiency that’s been thoroughly remedied in this modern transformation of 469 Valley Street in Noe Valley. Three terraces and a backyard provide myriad ways to enjoy the hillside views. The contemporary three bedroom/three bathroom (with two half bathrooms) is listed by Ed Deleski at Vanguard Properties for just under $3 million. 


Classical Studies:
iginally owned by Stanford’s first Latin professor, the Queen Anne at 2275 Amherst Street dates back to 1893. Located on an unusually large half-acre lot in Palo Alto’s charming College Terrace neighborhood (Mark Zuckerberg’s old ’hood), it has six bedrooms and three bathrooms, along with a one-bedroom apartment on the basement level and a finished attic. The listing is with Ken DeLeon for just under $4.5 million. 

Rising Star Firms:

Renowned Oslo- and New York-based architecture firm Snøhetta has launched a San Francisco office in SOMA. The practice designed and is at work on the spectacular expansion of SFMOMA. All eyes are on this exciting studio to see what their next Bay Area project will be.


Richard Beard
San Francisco architect Richard Beard, FAIA, a former partner at award-winning practice BAR, has launched his own eponymous firm dedicated to the design of exceptional private residences, hospitality and commercial projects. With projects for the likes of Mumm Napa and Ralph Lauren under his belt, the esteemed local architect’s solo undertaking is one to watch.


Marmol Radziner
LA-based Marmol Radziner, whose multidisciplinary practice ranges from architecture to construction to jewelry and accessories, has opened the doors to a San Francisco office. Known for rigorous but livable modernism, Marmol’s current marquee project is the new Architecture + Design Center at the Palm Springs Art Museum.


A version of this article appeared in the February 2015 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Transbay Ascendant.

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