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Cranespotting: Open for Business

Ben Christopher | October 16, 2013 | Story Real Estate

1. 535 Mission (Yerba Buena)
One gem of an office
Put on hold along with the rest of the economy in 2008, this project was scooped up by Boston Properties for some $71 million earlier this year. Its resuscitation speaks to the go-goism of the current economic climate: For that sum, the developers have scored themselves a glass briolette of an office tower that’s gunning for LEED Gold certification. Commercial/Fall 2014/378 ft.

2. Foundry Square III (Yerba Buena)
505 Howard St.
Windows for the workers
The final installation of the four-part Foundry development—confusingly rolled out in nonnumerical order—this office building will soon govern the corner of Howard and First. The design here is conspicuously innovative: With its glazed curtain wall and the swoop of its penthouse rooftop, the building looks like an open book lying atop a glass table. It also has a 30-foot living wall, a sculpture-filled public lobby, and, naturally, LEED Gold certification. Commercial/Winter 2014/400 ft.

3. 680 Folsom (Yerba Buena)
Re-skin revival
This is technically a renovation, but with the oppressive ’60s-era precast-concrete exterior stripped to make way for a very nearly continuous glass exterior, 680 Folsom feels like a brand-new office building in a brand-new neighborhood. Commercial/Completed/230 ft.

4. Market Street Place (Mid-Market)
935 Market St.
A mod mall
It’s tough to get excited about a mall going up half a block from the Westfield shopping center. But even if you aren’t wowed by the glass curtain (and those who mourn the loss of the St. Francis Theatre facade are not), it’s telling that out-oftown development giants Carlyle Group and Cypress Equities are betting big on a quarter million square feet of retail space on a once-shuttered stretch of Market. Retail/2015/94 ft.

5. 942 Mission (Mid-Market)
The tourists are coming
The construction of a chain hotel downtown may not seem worth a second look, but consider the address—between Fifth and Sixth, no less. As the Chronicle’s Carl Nolte proclaimed in a recent column, the fact that a 15-story Hampton Inn is going to be sidling up against the SROs, parking lots, and boardedup buildings around it is proof that “the world does change.” Hospitality/Summer/152 ft.

6. The Battery (Financial District)
717 Battery St.
A club for the techerati
Marking an important step from arriviste to aristocracy, San Francisco’s tech sector finally has a private social club. A renovation of the century-old Musto Building, this five-story hideaway has its own restaurant, wine cellar, spa, library, and four bars. Commercial/Completed/75 ft.

7. 270 Brannan (SOMA)
Homey office space
A new office building where the floors top out in the single digits? How quaint. Tucked away south of the freeway and within throwing distance of the ballpark, this relatively pint-size project, with its alternating terra-cotta and steel facade and its leafy atrium topped by a raincatching, cable-suspended glass ceiling, is a modern take on the South Beach warehouse aesthetic. And here’s more grist for those aggrieved over disappearing parking: In lieu of the 84-car lot that this project is replacing, expect only a dozen onstreet spaces—but world class storage for 48 bikes. Retail/2015/65 ft.

Castles in the Sky: Downtown Titans
Nabe Changers: Neighborhood Defining Apartment Buildings
Open for Business: Office Buildings, Malls, and Hotels
Cultural Beacons: The Arts Will Endure
Urban Levittowns: Planned Communities, Hold the Vanilla
Service by Design
: Modern Overhauls for Civic Stalwarts

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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