Some residents have never been happy with plans for 955 Sansome Street, starting with the preliminary seven-story application in 2021 for the corner lot by Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Three iterations have gone through the planning department since then, steadily growing each time to ten floors, then sixteen, and now 24 floors tall. The project application states that the proposal “aspires to restore and revitalize an underutilized site while providing much needed higher density housing for the city.”
Aralon Properties is the project developer.
In a public letter shared in August of 2021, Telegraph Hill Dwellers, a neighborhood organization, told the developer in a public letter, “we are concerned that your building, as proposed at 8 stories, is excessively high and massive.” By October 2021, the Waterfront Action Committee argued against the revised 120-foot proposal, saying that “a 40-foot building would still have space for a similar number of units.” In 2022, the planning department denied an appeal submitted by WAC. A third iteration surfaced for 102 units across 16 floors in September last year.
Handel Architects is responsible for the design. The project’s renderings reveal a balanced infill tower with a gridded curtain-wall facade above a bronze metal-clad and granite podium. Handel shared the following two passages describing the proposed design:
The formal aspects of the project are designed to resonate and engage in dialogue with the industrial fabric in which it is located. Robust metals and cast stone are combined with uniquely formed exterior precast concrete panel detailing to create a highly crafted facade which echoes the manufacturing and industrial nature of the district’s past. Along Sansome Street, the base of the building is articulated to create a street-wall that is appropriate to the scale of Sansome Street.
The proposed massing takes cues from the successive development of the waterfront district over time. At the lower levels, the project features metal and masonry in elongated frames which is in keeping with the typical warehouses seen along Sansome Street. The massing at upper levels maintains the industrial elongated frames but in a vertical rather than horizontal orientation to provide a more residential scale, responding to the residential nature of Telegraph Hill beyond while still retaining the character of the waterfront district.
The structure is expected to yield around 278,900 square feet, including 230,500 square feet for housing, 14,000 square feet for retail, 34,500 square feet for cars, and 1,340 square feet for bicycles. Parking will be included for 140 cars using stackers in the basement and ground floor. Parking for 130 bicycles will be included on the second floor, which, because of the property’s dramatic slope, is connected to the street-level residential lobby along Vallejo Street.
The proposal could create around 132 apartments that would be available for ownership. Units will vary, with 113 two-bedrooms and 19 three-bedrooms.
The proposal uses the State Density Bonus program in concert with Assembly Bill 1287, i.e., AB1287, to increase the residential capacity by 100% from the 66-unit base zoning project. Around 26 units, or 40% of all base units, will be designated as affordable. The new plans will include 16 units for households earning up to 80% of the Area’s Median Income and 10 for households earning up to 120% AMI.
The 24-story structure will rise 266 feet above the street, or roughly 300 feet above sea level. The overall height will be roughly as tall as Telegraph Hill’s roughly 285-300 foot pinnacle. The 0.4-acre property is close to the Embarcadero and less than half a mile from the Transamerica Pyramid, once the tallest building in the city.
The project application expects construction to cost around $65 million, a figure not including all development costs. The estimated timeline for the groundbreaking has yet to be established.