Shvo’s revamp of SF’s Three Transamerica wins approvals despite shadows

City officials give nods to redevelopment even with shady concerns

Shvo’s Revamp of SF’s Three Transamerica Wins Approvals

Shvo’s Michael Shvo; rendering of 545 Sansome Street (Shvo’s, Getty, Foster + Partners, DBOX)

UPDATE: DEC. 19 at 10:00 a.m.

Shvo has won approval from San Francisco parks and planning officials to redevelop a historic building next to its Transamerica Pyramid, overriding concerns that a taller building might cast impermissible shadows into a nearby park.  

The Manhattan luxury development firm led by Michael Shvo was given a unanimous nod by the city’s Parks Department and Planning Commission to add six floors to the development at 545 Sansome Street.

The parks and planning officials voted 14-0 during a joint meeting last week to allow Shvo to redevelop and expand Three Transamerica as part of a $400 million renovation of the iconic Transamerica building and surrounding structures.

In their ruling, San Francisco officials decided Shvo’s plans to raise the height of the building to 12 stories wouldn’t run afoul of a city “sunlight ordinance” aimed at preventing shadows in the city’s publicly owned plazas and parks.

The 1984 Sunlight Ordinance, or Proposition K, requires additional review of new buildings taller than 40 feet that could result in new shadows cast on properties under the jurisdiction of the Recreation and Parks Department.

The Shvo project involves tearing down a commercial building at the foot of the Transamerica Pyramid at 505 Washington Street, renovating the Art Deco building at 545 Sansome Street and topping it with six new floors.

The revamped Three Transamerica, built in the 1930s, will form a gateway to Transamerica Pyramid Center from Washington and Sansome streets, according to Shvo.

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The 853-foot, 523,000-square-foot Transamerica Pyramid, designed by architect William Pereira, has been a San Francisco icon since it was built in 1972. Its smaller siblings at 505 and 545 Sansome Street have been dubbed 2 and 3 Transamerica.

The redevelopment “will help create a vibrant new destination in the heart of San Francisco and return the Transamerica Pyramid Center, which has been ahead of its time since 1972, to its rightful place as a home for the world’s brightest minds,” Michael Shvo, CEO of Shvo, said in a statement.  

The result will be a single 217-foot building, designed by Foster+Partners, with an additional 50,000 square feet of ground-floor shops and restaurants around the entire building. 

The renovation marks the second phase of Shvo’s $400 million revamp of the Transamerica Pyramid block, purchased in 2020 in partnership with Deutsche Finance America for $650 million.

The partnership’s $1 billion commitment is the largest investment in Downtown San Francisco since the dawn of the pandemic. Last year, Shvo said the $1 billion investment in Transamerica Center began to pay off, with 150,000 square feet of new leases at annual rents of more than $100 per square foot.

Correction: Previous story did not include information about the project’s approval.

— Dana Bartholomew

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