Hines takes 74-foot haircut on SF skyscraper

Planners demanded shorter tower at 50 Main Street to balance city skyline

Hines co-ceos Jeffrey and Laura Hines and a rendering for 50 Main St., San Francisco (Hines, Forster and Partners, Getty)
Hines co-ceos Jeffrey and Laura Hines and a rendering for 50 Main St., San Francisco (Hines, Forster and Partners, Getty)

San Francisco planners thought Hines’ proposed 1,066-foot-tall skyscraper wouldn’t create “a balanced skyline.” So they made the developer lop off 74 feet.

The Texas-based company has given a haircut to its one-time 808-unit tower by shaving off eight apartments at 50 Main Street, the San Francisco Business Times reported. 

A revision filed for the project now calls for 992 feet and 800 units. At that height, it would still be the second-tallest building in the city.

The highrise is part of Hines’ remake of the former PG&E headquarters block, which includes the redevelopment of 77 Beale Street, two historic buildings at 215 and 245 Market Street and several other buildings.

Plans had called for the new Hines residential tower to hover 4 feet shorter than the nearby Salesforce Tower. The 61-story tower, the tallest in the Bay Area at 1,070 feet, is part of a larger San Francisco Transbay development, including the Transbay Transit Center. It opened in 2018.

A 2012 Transit Center District Plan had placed the Salesforce Tower, co-developed by Hines and Boston Properties, as the apex of the San Francisco skyline.

City planners, however, objected to the nearby competition, saying its latest proposal didn’t meet the vision for its upper building tiers.

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The project “conflicts with the city’s goal of establishing a balanced skyline as seen from key public viewpoints within the city and region,” city planners said in April.

The revised tower will be eligible for the state density bonus program that allows developers to add density to housing projects in exchange for 20.5 percent of affordable housing units. It will contain three levels of underground parking.

The height revision should allow Hines to launch an environmental impact review. But the developer isn’t in the clear, according to the Business Times.

Hines proposes a new facade at 77 Beale – to be rebranded as 200 Mission Street – that would create a “glistening crystalline skin wrapping in an unexpected and sculptural form.” It also calls for a “sky garden” with “mature trees and planting behind a sculptural architectural crown.”

City planners, however, say it would need a vote from the city’s Board of Supervisors to build the ornamental feature that tall.

Hines and the National Pension Service of Korea bought the 1.6-million-square-foot PG&E headquarters block, a 3.5-acre campus bounded by Market, Mission, Main and Beale streets, from the utility for $800 million in September. PG&E is moving its corporate hub to Oakland.

The Houston-based developer envisions its 50 Main multifamily tower to join a 200 Mission Street office tower redevelopment, historic buildings renovation and a new 1.25-acre park within the same block.

— Dana Bartholomew