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High-Speed Rail Galvanized Development in San Francisco's Transbay District

Even as prospects for high-speed trains dim in California, San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center has already spurred a development spree in the surrounding area.
March 2, 2019, 11am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Mike Perace

High-speed rail may not have much of a future in the Golden State, and San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center may be down for the count due to structural flaws. But as John King writes, those projects have already set in motion a skyline-altering uptick in development that's set to continue as long as the economy allows.

"In terms of the blocks around [the transit center], the genie is out of the bottle," King writes. "The obvious symbol of all this is the tapered girth of Salesforce Tower, which at 1,070 feet easily tops the 853-foot Transamerica Pyramid as the city's tallest high-rise. On the next block is 181 Fremont St., an 803-foot tower where all 432,000 square feet of office space was leased to Facebook."

King discusses some of the planning decisions that paved the way for the area's transformation, including a land transfer from the state to the city and a "dramatic" upzoning that united progressives and moderates. "By raising heights at the beginning of an economic boom that has blurred the boundaries between Silicon Valley and San Francisco, the city set the stage for Transbay to respond to a pent-up demand that hadn't been obvious."

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Published on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 in San Francisco Chronicle
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