The new owner of the Transamerica Pyramid has no interest in playing second banana to the taller and shinier Salesforce Tower, so they’re renovating the building and adding features to attract people who do not work there.
Is the 50-year-old Transamerica Pyramid feeling a little upstaged by the now-taller Salesforce Tower? Well, maybe its new owner is. You may recall that the Transamerica Pyramid was sold in 2020 to New York-based real estate investor Michael Shvo for $700 million, which was rumored to be about $100 million more than the asking price. And while the Transamerica Pyramid can’t make itself taller than the Salesforce Tower, some “measuring contest” jokes may still apply here.
The Chronicle broke some blockbuster downtown real estate news Tuesday night, reporting that the Transamerica Pyramid is getting a $250 million renovation, one that hopes to make the place an attraction rather than just a pointily Brutalist office building.
The Transamerica Pyramid block and interiors will get a $400 million makeover, in a huge bet on downtown San Francisco: https://t.co/r5RqsEatSf @FosterPartners is the architect. pic.twitter.com/BokwTszop3— Roland Li (@rolandlisf) March 23, 2022
“We want to make this place a focal center of downtown, and make sure people come here not only to work,” Shvo told the Chronicle in an exclusive interview. “It will not only transform the interior of the building but the landscape and the exterior and bring life to the entire site.”
“When you come to the site, there’s not much to do there,” he added. “We want to change that.”
The pricey remodel will be a hybrid of park renovations, office renovations, and new retail attractions, according to NBC Bay Area, which adds that the “interior redesign includes a gym, spa and conference room.” Though it appears those attractions may not be available to the public, and only to office tenants.
But there’s plenty for the public in this new plan, including that gorgeous, cherry blossom tree-lined park you see above on the obscure alley Mark Twain Street. That area will get some additional new retail, and the ground floor of the Transamerica Pyramid, teased as restaurants, a book shop and a flower store.
And as we reported in January — and boy did people seem to hate the idea! — a private club for ultra-rich people is also in the works on three of the lower floors of the tower. Plus there are plenty of amenities for office tenants — probably a shrewd sweetener given people’s current reluctance to go back to the office. The Chronicle reports that “A vacant 48th floor penthouse space would be turned into a bar and lounge exclusively for office tenants at the cost of $201,836,” and that “Office tenants would be able to order food and beverages to their desks.”
The project has tapped architect Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, known for designing the spaceship doughnut Apple campus in Cupertino, the Union Square Apple store, and who recently made headlines with plans for an ambitious 50 Main Street skyscraper that will be nearly as tall as the Salesforce Tower.
The redesign also involves surrounding buildings, including 545 Sansome, plans which initially created a controversy that decades-old Sai’s Vietnamese restaurant would be evicted. After that story broke, a representative of real estate firm SHVO clarified to Hoodline that they would “provide resources to help find a new permanent space,” which may or may not be on this new luxury office park.
“I strongly believe the office experience should be at the same level as luxury residential and hospitality,” Michael Shvo told the Chronicle. “In the last two years, we’ve made our homes into our offices, now it’s time to make our offices feel like our homes.”
He’s talking a good game there, but it’s great to see so many companies bullish about developing downtown San Francisco more. In addition to the 50 Main skyscraper, there’s also a 75-story residential tower proposed for behind the old PG&E building, plus the freshly opened Whole Foods and the upcoming IKEA on Market Street project. The seeds of a downtown SF renaissance do appear to be sprouting.