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Height doubled for proposed San Francisco high-rise apartment building

A rendering shows a high rise apartment building planned for 636 Fourth St. | Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Designs for a residential high-rise in SoMa just got bigger—again.

The planned 517-foot tower would contain 520 homes at the corner of Fourth and Bluxome streets and replace two commercial buildings, according to new plans.

The new proposal is for an even taller apartment complex than drawings submitted before. Plans filed Dec. 30 had increased the project’s height from 250 feet to 461 feet.

The project is being spearheaded by Solbach Property Group, a family trust that owns the land where the tower is slated to be built. A developer has not yet been named.

READ MORE: This Proposed SF Apartment Tower Just Doubled in Height

The building would have 80 studios, 124 one-bedroom apartments, 130 two-bedroom apartments and eight three-bedroom apartments. The building would include indoor common areas on the second, ninth and 47th floors, and the building would be located near the planned Bluxome Street linear park. There would be parking for 130 cars and 231 bicycles.

A rendering of 636 Fourth St. | Solomon Cordwell Buenz

To squeeze in more housing, the owners seek to waive current minimum standards that dictate the amount of open space that must accompany each home—proposing 21,145 square feet of open space in total—and to exceed the neighborhood’s 250-foot height cap under the city’s planning code. The developers also intend for the project to have 50% more square footage than would otherwise be allowed under zoning laws under a state measure that seeks to increase higher-density affordable housing.

The construction costs have jumped from $200 million to $320 million during the first six months of 2023, according to an updated project application filed by the developer in June. That same application said 87 of the project's 520 units would be offered below market rate, but it did not provide further details.

Under California’s State Density Bonus Law, rents for low-income units are limited to 30% to 60% of the area’s median annual income—which is $164,289 in the project’s area—while very low-income units are limited to 30% to 50% of the local median income.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents SoMa and nearby neighborhoods, supports the project, said legislative aide Madison Tam, who added that Dorsey has not fully reviewed the plans.

“We need to build 82,000 units of housing, and this is the kind of housing that will do that,” said Tam, referring to the state-mandated building requirements for San Francisco that must be achieved by 2031. 

The site of a planned residential high-rise at Fourth and Bluxome streets is currently occupied by two commercial buildings. | Google Street View

The South of Market Business Association has also welcomed the project.

“We’re generally for more housing because that means more customers,” said the business association's president, Henry Karnilowicz.

City Planning Department Chief of Staff Dan Sider said he could not provide further details about the project or its likely timeline. 

Plans for the apartment tower go back to 2015. The project was originally planned to be 350 feet tall before being scaled back to 250 feet to comply with height-limit rules for the area.

The site is located just blocks away from Oracle Park and a 20-minute walk from the Chase Center. The project is also near transit, including the King Street Caltrain station, the I-80 freeway and a 20-minute walk from Powell Street BART station.

Solbach Property Group and the San Francisco Planning Department did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.