Until 1970, 875 California Street was a five-story building operated by then Mayor Joseph Alioto and his wife Angelina. The Chronicle remembers that the family tore down the structure with hopes of building a new modern one to take its place. That never materialized, leaving a 'temporary' parking lot like a scar on the otherwise studied neighborhood since 1973.

But perhaps that's about to change. Now, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, led by the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, is designing a building for Grosvenor Americas that would nod respectfully to its distinguished neighbors. The youngest of those structures dates to 1931.


The building's details are as "gauzy" as the watercolor renderings of it, the Chronicle's John King quips, but we do know that it would be six stories in height while under 65 feet.

Rendering By Michael McCann, Robert A. M. Stern Architects

Grosvenor Americas and Stern are expected to approach the Planning Commission around six months from now. And so far neighbors sound amenable.

For example, when at a public meeting Grosvenors' Dan Lobitz mentioned that “We don’t want to make a statement that says ‘this is today... We’re trying to create a building that fits into the character and texture of the neighborhood.” one neighbor responded that “for me, you can make it as traditional as you want.”

That would seem to be the spirit of things on Nob Hill.

Rendering By Michael McCann, Robert A. M. Stern Architects