Developer of 266K sf life science laboratory in SoMa revealed

Align Real Estate behind plan to raze former HQ of Walter Wong, tied to city corruption scandal

A photo illustration of Align Real Estate's Jason Chadorchi and 1717 Mission Street (Getty, LinkedIn/Jason Chardorchi, LoopNet)
A photo illustration of Align Real Estate's Jason Chadorchi and 1717 Mission Street (Getty, LinkedIn/Jason Chardorchi, LoopNet)

The mystery developer behind a plan to replace an aging office building in the Mission District with a 265,500-square-foot life science lab has been revealed.

An affiliate of Align Real Estate, based in San Francisco, is behind a proposal to build the laboratory at 1717 Mission Street, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The 86,600-square-feet building known as CitiCenter, once home to crooked permit expediter and contractor Walter Wong, would be demolished along Highway 101, at Mission and Erie streets.

In September, Reuben Junius & Rose, a real estate law firm based in the city, filed plans for the four-story laboratory building on behalf of its then-unidentified owner.

An entity tied to Wong entered into an agreement in August to sell the property to an affiliate of Align Real Estate, according to the Business Times, citing public documents.

A preliminary project assessment was filed with the city’s Planning Department this week to replace the 1950s-era building with the laboratory. Construction could cost $85 million.

The 1.4-acre project, designed by Perkins&Will of Chicago, would include more than 200,000 square feet for lab space and nearly 51,000 square feet for an underground garage for 95 cars.

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Plans call for an unspecified laboratory that could host up to four tenants per floor, with the ground floor dedicated for mechanical use and common areas.

Align Real Estate, founded by Tishman Speyer veterans in 2015, did not respond to requests for comment by the Business Times.

The company also aims to build a 62-story, 826-unit apartment tower, nicknamed The Cube, at 620 Folsom Street in South of Market.

Wong, the admittedly crooked permit expediter at the center of a city corruption scandal involving bribes to San Francisco officials, agreed to pay $1.7 million last year to settle ethics violations for problem contracts as part of a federal corruption probe into city government.

The former headquarters for his Wong Construction Co.was also the site of a fatal shooting in 2019.

— Dana Bartholomew

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