[maxgallery name=”2121-webster-the-pacific”]What does a real estate development firm do with an acre plus of land supporting an empty old building in one of San Francisco’s upper scale neighborhoods? Demolish the relatively short 127 foot high building and construct a market rate residential tower with plenty of floors and apartments to help quench the city’s current appetite for housing. Umm, not exactly. The views such a tower would block and the added people that would bring. Oh, the horror! When Trumark Urban purchased 2155 Webster Street, a Pacific Height’s property with a 60’s era building that once housed University of Pacific’s Dugoni School of Dentistry, they knew their options were limited. The property’s 160 foot zoned height limit and neighbor’s trepidation to more people pointed to an somewhat less ambitious idea. What about a refurb? Building renovation would take advantage of the existing building’s relatively tough reinforced concrete bones, circumvent a significant amount of city review and neighborhood scrutinization, and quicken development time which would allow the developer to reap the fortunes of today’s fleeting real estate boom. Sounds like a good idea, when can we start? Everyone knows real estate is hot right now and the 2008 bust shows us the market is fickle.
Contractor Plant Construction started stripping down the 50 year old building last fall and is currently overseeing major renovations including replacement of the brutalist concrete facade with modern glass and steel, frame strengthening, and the addition of two smaller penthouse floors. The entire project is not all refurbishment as there is also some new development. The abutting parking lot to the west is being uprooted to make way for new Victorian inspired townhouses. As with most developments under construction, the total unit counts are a moving target but permits show 11 units for the townhouses and 66 condos in the facelifted building. Yes, an almost trivial amount of units for all this land but profits will be gained by marketing the homes to the wealthy that want spacious four bedroom condos with great city views and amenities such as concierge, doormen, valet, private security, fitness center and yoga garden. Sales, which are expected to start this summer, are expected to command more than $3,000 a square foot which would price the largest 3,625 sq. feet penthouses at around $11 million. Not bad for a refurb.
A recent site visit showed an undressed building brought down to its bare skeletal frame. We noted existing concrete columns being fortified with new rebar, falsework erected for internal partitions, and angular protrusions for the future bay windows. Foundation trenches and partially built steel frames currently reside where the future townhouses will stand.
[maxgallery name=”2121-webster-the-pacific-renderings”]Handel Architects has done an admirable job replacing the rugged, hard, concrete centric facade with something more clean, modern, and optimistic. Former recessed dark windows make way for bulging angular bay windows and larger glassy openings. External concrete columns and horizontal beams are sheathed in soft colored metal. Adjacent new townhouses illustrate a respect to local architecture and connect the smaller nearby homes with the larger newly renovated building.
The building, referred to as The Pacific and located at the new address 2121 Webster Street, is expected to be completed in early 2016.