Farella Braun + Martel to downsize HQ in San Francisco

Law firm to cut about 85K sf, swap Neo-Gothic for Mid-Century Modern

Farella’s Brian Donnelly and the Russ Building (Farella Braun + Martel, grizzlehizzle CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Farella’s Brian Donnelly and the Russ Building (Farella Braun + Martel, grizzlehizzle CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

A 60-year-old San Francisco law firm will soon vacate its prestigious headquarters at the “Wall Street of the West” as more of its attorneys work from home.

Farella Braun + Martel, which has occupied the top 15 floors of the Russ Building at 235 Montgomery St. for more than a half century, will soon downsize its 125,000-square-foot headquarters, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The real estate law firm will move to a 40,000-square-foot space at 1 Bush St. as more of its 127 attorneys adapt to a hybrid office-remote work model.

“With our lease at the Russ Building expiring in 2023, we took the opportunity to reassess our needs and evolve our systems to facilitate a truly hybrid work model,” Brian Donnelly, a managing partner at the firm, told the Business Times. “We are excited about our new space at One Bush St. in San Francisco because it will give us the ability to bring together functional teams in a more naturally collaborative space.”

It was in 1970 that Farella Braun + Martel set up shop in the 32-story Neo-Gothic tower, built in 1927 with the city’s first indoor parking garage.

In the early 2000s, Russ owner Shorenstein Properties pampered its anchor tenant during a building renovation by installing a bespoke elevator for its exclusive use. Shorenstein has now listed the firm’s entire office for direct leasing at prices ranging from $75 to $80 per square foot, according to a CoStar listing.

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The law firm trades its landmark tower for a Mid-Century glass block at One Bush Plaza, also known as the Crown Zellerbach Building. The 20-story tower, built in 1959, is owned by Tishman Speyer, based in New York. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The headquarters move by Farella Braun + Martel follows the relocation of other Bay Area companies, beginning with tech sector space reductions during the pandemic. The corporate musical chairs continue unabated.

Last month, digital real estate platform Qualia Labs listed its 39,0000-square-foot headquarters in San Francisco for sublease. Executives say it may move to Austin, Texas.

The Qualia relocation also follows recent corporate moves by Yelp, Ripple, Splunk, Wells Fargo, and the State Bar of California, which mostly downsized to smaller offices in favor of a hybrid office and work-from-home employee model.

TaskRabbit, a worker-for-hire platform with more than 300 employees, announced last month it would be closing its San Francisco headquarters and all its physical offices to work remotely.

Not every Bay City company is downsizing. Finix, a payments company, just moved its headquarters from South Park to larger offices within a century-old Art Deco building in SoMa.

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