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Chicago Developer Wants More Transbay

San Francisco

Tuesday, Golub breaks ground on Transbay Block 6, the Chicago-based firm's first project in S.F., but it's already eyeing the Block 8 site next door that calls for an even taller (550-foot) residential tower.

Ironically, Block 8--not Block 6--was the project Golub originally went for. Principal Mike Newman tells us five years ago, they took a look at Block 8, hoping to use their experience doing high-rise rentals in urban markets. Back then, times were tough and Block 8 generated few bidders, causing the City to pull the site. Now it's back, and RFPs are due in February. Condos could be an option, Mike says. As housing prices rise, "people have short memories" and will buy. (We find this characterization of our memories offensive, and he'll be hearing from our lawyer, whose name escapes us at the moment.)

It's a Golub tradition to plant a time capsule at ground-up development sites, and they plan to do the same next week. What's going to be inside is TBD. Putting present-day technology in it could be fun, Mike tells us, like a smartphone and list of popular apps. It might also include a list of questions for future residents, like whether they're still using cell phones, buying oil from the Middle East, or using paper money. When Golub developed the Warsaw Financial Center in Poland in the late 1990s, there was a whopping 18 law firms involved in the deal, so they listed attorneys and their billing amounts inside. "People got a kick out of that."

Transbay Block 6 will include a 32-story apartment tower, townhome residences, a ground-level courtyard, and street-front retail at 299 Fremont. (SCB managing principal Chris Pemberton, above, showed us a model last month.) Mike hopes to "soften" the area's public spaces by adding wider sidewalks and rows (as opposed to one row) of trees to create a pedestrian-friendly feel. The addition of retail will also help; "that area really needs some," he says.