Align appears to ditch “floating cube” highrise in SF’s SoMa – The Real Deal

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Plans by Align Real Estate to top a 65-story highrise with a “floating cube” over San Francisco may be stuck at the bottom of the glass.

The locally based firm, led by Jason Chadorchi, appears to have paused its proposed 711-unit apartment tower at 620 Folsom Street, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

As of last fall, the city’s Planning Department has marked the SoMa development “on hold,” according to records reviewed by the newspaper.

This week, planning officials couldn’t confirm the status of the project, stating they hadn’t received written confirmation from Align and Ground Matrix, the development brokerage led by Chris Foley of Polaris Pacific. 

But the city’s Department of Building Inspection confirmed that, early this week, the developers asked to retract a building permit that it applied for in late 2022, starting a process that allows it to recoup costs associated with the permit, according to the department. 

Align and Ground Matrix didn’t respond to questions about the project’s status from the Chronicle. 

But they and other developers face economic challenges to housing development, including increasing building costs, higher interest rates that make it harder to secure construction loans, and declining rents. 

In 2021, Align proposed building a $250 million, 58-story housing tower, stacked with 600 apartments between Second and Hawthorne streets, near the Moscone Center. would replace a three-story office building built in 1922.

In September, 2022, the developer revised its plans to add four more stories and 200 more units, for a total 826 apartments. 

The apartment tower, designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, was set to include a five-story crown of apartments that looks like a floating white cube, hence the building’s nickname.

The updated design replaces one drawn by Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz in a preliminary application filed in August 2021 by Foley, founder and principal at Ground Matrix.

Align and Ground Matrix ultimately proposed a 65-story tower with 711 apartments, according to the Chronicle, citing planning records.

Whether the developers are working to redesign the project once more to make it pencil out is unclear. They hold an option to buy the project site from the property owner, McLaughlin Family Associates. 

Align has been trying to buy the Webster Street Safeway in the Fillmore District, which is slated for closure this year, with plans to redevelop it into housing, shops and restaurants. The timeline for the project is unknown, and the developer has yet to file a formal application, according to the Chronicle.

In October, the developer filed plans to convert an industrial building at 790 Pennsylvania Avenue into 44 apartments in Potrero Hill.

Align Real Estate, founded by veterans of Tishman Speyer in 2015, filed plans in November 2022 to replace an aging office building in the Mission District with a 265,500-square-foot life science lab at 1717 Mission Street.

— Dana Bartholomew

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