San Francisco Transbay development

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Salesforce Transit Center & Tower
Transbay Tower Most Recent Proposal.jpg
Renderings of the Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower, the tallest of the towers in the development
General information
TypeCommercial offices
LocationMission Street
San Francisco, California
Coordinates37°47′24″N 122°23′49″W / 37.7899°N 122.3969°W / 37.7899; -122.3969Coordinates: 37°47′24″N 122°23′49″W / 37.7899°N 122.3969°W / 37.7899; -122.3969
Antenna spire1,070 ft (326 m)
Roof920 ft (280 m)[1]
Technical details
Floor count61
Floor area1,300,000 sq ft (120,000 m2)[2]
Design and construction
ArchitectCesar Pelli [3]
DeveloperBoston Properties
Hines Interests Limited Partnership
EngineerMagnusson Klemencic Associates

The San Francisco Transit Center District Plan is a massive redevelopment plan for the neighborhood surrounding the Salesforce Transit Center site, South of Market near the Financial District in San Francisco.[8] The new Salesforce Transit Center (previously known as the Transbay Transit Center) has replaced the since-demolished San Francisco Transbay Terminal, and new skyscrapers, such as Salesforce Tower, take advantage of the height increases allowed through the Transit Center District Plan. The sale of several land parcels formerly owned by the state and given to the managing Transbay Joint Powers Authority helped finance the construction of the Transit Center.[9]


The original Transbay Terminal opened in 1939 as the San Francisco terminus for the Key System and other commuter trains that travelled across the new San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge to the East Bay. Train service to San Francisco was discontinued in 1958 and the Transbay Terminal was reconfigured for buses. Transbay train service would resume in 1974 with the opening of BART and the Transbay Tube, but the BART tracks were routed under Market Street, bypassing the Transbay Terminal. By the end of the 20th century, the Transbay Terminal was underused and rundown, handling an average of about 20,000 commuters per day.[10]

In 1985, San Francisco adopted the Downtown Plan, which slowed development in the Financial District north of Market Street and directed it to the area South of Market around the Transbay Terminal.[11] In the early 1990s, the Embarcadero Freeway was demolished following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, freeing up numerous city blocks for development south of the Transbay Terminal. In 1995, Caltrain agreed to study extending its commuter rail service from its Fourth and King terminus closer to the Financial District, including whether the obsolete Transbay Terminal should be removed, remodeled, or rebuilt.[12]

Ultimately, it was decided that the Transbay Terminal should be rebuilt, with the rail extension entering the Terminal under Second Street. In 1996, then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown issued the idea of redeveloping the earthquake-damaged Transbay Transit Center. To that end, Brown tapped his then-new deputy Mayor Maria Ayerdi Kaplan to head the project. Kaplan created, and then became executive director of, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority in 2008.[13]

To finance the projects and promote development in the area, the Transbay Redevelopment Plan was adopted by the City of San Francisco in June 2005. By raising a number of building height limits and selling former freeway parcels, the plan envisions the development of over 2,500 new homes, 3 million square feet of new office and commercial space, and 100,000 square feet of retail.[9]


Salesforce Transit Center[edit]

Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the new Salesforce Transit Center replaced the former Transbay Terminal at a cost of roughly $2 billion USD[14] and has been dubbed the "Grand Central Station of the West" by proponents.[15] The new center is planned to eventually include an extension of Caltrain into the station from the current Caltrain Depot at 4th and King Streets in Mission Bay via tunnels which would also carry the Bay Area segment of the future California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) and terminate at the station, as mandated by California voters in Proposition 1A, the ballot measure authorizing CAHSR construction. This extension would cost an additional $2-4 billion and is currently unfunded.[16]

Salesforce Transit Center construction site.

The Transit Center currently has three levels plus a 5.4-acre (2.2 ha) public rooftop park. The ground level is the street entrance to the Transit Center. Above that are administrative offices, retail shops, restaurants, and the Amtrak/Greyhound waiting room. The final indoors level services Transbay buses from San Francisco's Muni, the East Bay's AC Transit, and WestCAT, as well as long-distance buses operated by Greyhound and Amtrak Thruway.[17] Future Caltrain and HSR service would utilize two underground levels, the lower of which would house the tracks and platforms, and the upper of which would house a retail concourse and waiting areas.

Salesforce Tower[edit]

Adjacent to the Transit Center and at the center of the redevelopment effort is a signature skyscraper at First and Mission Streets. The proposal featured plans from several major architecture firms including Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Richard Rogers Partnership, and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. Eventually the plan from Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was picked.[18] The original plans from Pelli Clark Pelli Architects called for a 1,200-foot (370 m) tower as the main tower and a massive three-block-long Transbay Center. However, due to considerations about how the tower would cast a shadow over some of the city's parks, the height was eventually reduced to 1,070 feet (330 m).[19][20]

The designs to the supertall tower changed during its planning phase, its final design eventually incorporates slits at each side of its angular top along with an altered terminal station design.[21] However some of the original design cues were later restored and reincorporated due to complaints about the design modifications.[22] The tower and the new terminal is now under construction with groundbreaking on March 27, 2013.[23]

Increased height limits[edit]

With the adoption of the Transit Center District Plan in 2012, height limits were raised for several parcels in the vicinity of the Transit Center.[24] Among the parcels zoned for taller buildings are 50 First Street, 181 Fremont Street, 350 Mission Street, Golden Gate University's campus at 536 Mission Street, the proposed Palace Hotel Residential Tower, and the Salesforce Tower site.

Former freeway parcels and bus ramps[edit]

Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Embarcadero Freeway was torn down, opening up a number of blocks for development. Several other parcels, near Beale and Howard streets, were used for the East Loop Ramp of the Transbay Terminal and are not needed for the new Transit Center.[25] In 2007, the state of California officially agreed to transfer the state-owned parcels to the City and County of San Francisco.[26]

The former freeway parcels are located mostly along the north side of Folsom Street between Essex and Spear and have been zoned for residential use.[27] Other lots, called Parcel F, Parcel M, and Parcel T, have been zoned for office buildings.[28] Parcel T is the site of Salesforce Tower. As of 2013, Transbay Joint Powers Authority has accepted proposals for Blocks 6/7 and Block 9.[29][30] The first parcel developed was Block 11, also known as the Rene Cazenave Apartments, an affordable housing project located at 25 Essex Street.[31]

Parcel[27] Zoning Sold Price Use Location Reference
Block 1 Residential 2016 $50.18M 400-foot Folsom Bay Tower with 391 units, including 156 affordable-rate 37°47′24″N 122°23′30″W / 37.79°N 122.39167°W / 37.79; -122.39167 [32]
Block 2 Residential Temporary Transbay Terminal 37°47′21″N 122°23′33″W / 37.789271°N 122.392612°W / 37.789271; -122.392612
Block 3 Park Temporary Transbay Terminal; Slated to become Transbay Park 37°47′23″N 122°23′35″W / 37.789688°N 122.393132°W / 37.789688; -122.393132
Block 4 Residential Temporary Transbay Terminal 37°47′24″N 122°23′37″W / 37.790097°N 122.393618°W / 37.790097; -122.393618
Block 5 Residential 2015 $172.5M Although zoned for residential, will become Park Tower at Transbay office building 250 Howard Street [33][34]
Block 6 Residential 2013 $30M 300-foot tower with 409 market-rate units and 70 affordable units 299 Fremont Street [35][36][37][38]
Block 7 Residential 2013 77 units to be built by Mercy Housing 37°47′20″N 122°23′38″W / 37.788948°N 122.393939°W / 37.788948; -122.393939
Block 8 Residential 2014 $72M 550-foot, 740-unit residential tower 37°47′17″N 122°23′40″W / 37.787941°N 122.394358°W / 37.787941; -122.394358 [39]
Block 9 Residential 2013 $43.32M 400-foot, 563-unit residential tower under construction 500 Folsom Street [40]
Block 10 Park Planned Transbay Terminal Under Ramp Park 37°47′12″N 122°23′45″W / 37.786657°N 122.395924°W / 37.786657; -122.395924 [41]
Block 11 Residential 2011 120-unit Rene Cazenave Apartments 25 Essex Street [31]
Block 12 Residential 37°47′04″N 122°23′41″W / 37.784363°N 122.394771°W / 37.784363; -122.394771
Parcel F Commercial Office 2016 $160M 61-story, 800-foot tower, with 16 floors of offices, a 220-room hotel, and 175 condos 37°47′15″N 122°23′52″W / 37.787636°N 122.397695°W / 37.787636; -122.397695 [42][43]
Parcel M Commercial Office 37°47′29″N 122°23′41″W / 37.791324°N 122.394637°W / 37.791324; -122.394637
Parcel T Commercial Office 2013 $191.8M Salesforce Tower 415 Mission Street [44]

Transbay Joint Powers Authority[edit]

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) oversees the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the Transbay Transit Center. The charter of the TJPA includes three initiatives:

  • Replacing the San Francisco Transbay Terminal
  • Extending the Caltrain rail line
  • Redeveloping the area surrounding the Transbay Transit Center

The TJPA was created in 2001 as a collaboration of several Bay Area government and transportation agencies. It coordinates the efforts of 11 local, regional, and statewide transit systems.[45][46]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Yes, The Proposed Transbay Transit Tower Shrank A Hundred Feet". SocketSite. March 12, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  2. ^ King, John (2007-08-12). "Plan B: Architects: Pelli Clarke Pelli". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  3. ^ King, John (2007-09-21). "'Aggressive schedule' for proposed Transbay transit center, tower (picture)". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  4. ^ San Francisco Transbay development at Emporis
  5. ^ "San Francisco Transbay development". SkyscraperPage.
  6. ^ San Francisco Transbay development at Structurae
  7. ^ "Pelli Clarke Pelli Transbay Center & Tower Description". Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  8. ^ "Transit Center District Plan" (PDF). November 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Transbay Transit Center – Redevelopment Plan". Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  10. ^ Epstein, Edward (February 16, 2001). "Ambitious Plan For Rebuilding S.F. Transit Hub / Ideas for new Transbay Terminal". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "Transit Center District Plan – General Plan Amendments" (PDF). May 24, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  12. ^ Mitchell, Eve (August 4, 1995). "CalTrain moves a step closer to Financial District". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  13. ^ "Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, Salesforce Transit Center Builder, TJPA Creator: Her Story Part One". Oakland News Now. August 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Dineen, J.K. (12 August 2018). "Park, housing key to future of SF's new high-rise neighborhood". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Transbay Transit Center – The Program". Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  16. ^ Swan, Rachel (9 August 2018). "Salesforce Transit Center puzzle: When will the trains get to the station?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Transbay Transit Center – The Project: Transit Center". Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  18. ^ "San Francisco's Transbay Terminal Design Proposals: Highlights". SocketSite. August 7, 2007.
  19. ^ Ferrato, Philip (March 14, 2012). "Transbay Terminal, Still Pretty, Still Tall, Just Shorter". CurbedSF.
  20. ^ Hromack, Sarah (May 1, 2008). "Transbay Terminal Plan: New-and-Improved". CurbedSF.
  21. ^ "Transbay Tower Tweaks, Cuts And Timing". SocketSite. September 24, 2012.
  22. ^ King, John (March 15, 2013). "Transbay center design change proposed". San Francisco Chronicle.
  23. ^ "Boston Properties and Hines Close on Record Land Sale for Transbay Transit Tower Parcel" (Press release). BusinessWire via MarketWatch. March 26, 2013.
  24. ^ "Planning's Towering Transit Center District Plan Decision: Approved". SocketSite. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
  25. ^ "The Transbay Redevelopment". SocketSite. 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  26. ^ "California Transportation Commission Approves Land Transfer to TJPA, City and County of San Francisco for Transbay Transit Center Project and Redevelopment" (PDF). December 13, 2007.
  27. ^ a b "Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) Transbay Project Area" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ "The Green Designs For Block 6: Folsom Street From Fremont To Beale". SocketSite. January 10, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  30. ^ "The Winning Design And Developer For Transbay Block 9". SocketSite. February 15, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  31. ^ a b Dineen, J.K. (April 2, 2012). "Bridge, Community Housing break ground on Transbay affordable project". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  32. ^ "Resolution 291-16" (PDF). Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco. July 26, 2016.
  33. ^ "An Unexpected Transbay Twist And Block Redesign". SocketSite. April 3, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
  34. ^ Weinberg, Cory (July 13, 2015). "Soaring office tower approved to hit San Francisco's skyline". San Francisco Business Times.
  35. ^ "$30 million deal will help bankroll San Francisco's Transbay Terminal".
  36. ^ [2]
  37. ^ [3]
  38. ^ [4]
  39. ^ "Rem Koolhaas Design Selected For Folsom Street Tower". SocketSite. March 18, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
  40. ^ "Avant, Essex win Transbay Block 9 bid".
  41. ^ "Transbay Terminal Under Ramp Park". Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  42. ^ Li, Roland (June 22, 2016). "Exclusive: Last Transbay tower site sells for $160 million". San Francisco Business Times.
  43. ^ "Parcel F Plans Formally Submitted to Planning". SocketSite. March 15, 2017.
  44. ^ "Hines, Boston Properties sling ceremonial dirt in Transbay ground-breaking".
  45. ^ "Transbay Transit Center". US Department of Transportation. 2015-01-20. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  46. ^ "About the TJPA « Transbay Program". Retrieved 2019-03-31.

External links[edit]