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View Poll Results: Which transbay tower design scheme do you like best?
#1 Richard Rogers 39 7.89%
#2 Cesar Pelli 98 19.84%
#3 SOM 357 72.27%
Voters: 494. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1141  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2007, 7:34 PM
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In theory, if Pelli provided half as much money for a tower that was whittled down to half the size of his initial proposal, the project would still bring in roughly the sum that was initially sought, no?
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  #1142  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2007, 7:54 PM
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Originally Posted by fflint View Post
In theory, if Pelli provided half as much money for a tower that was whittled down to half the size of his initial proposal, the project would still bring in roughly the sum that was initially sought, no?

No, If you read the jury's report. Hines' payout was based on a sliding rule. the higher the floor the higher the price/sqft that would be given to TJPA. So if they cut the building in half the TJPA would lose much more than half the cash. Simply stated the taller the building the more profit TJPA gets.

Also in the report Hines stated that chaning a portion of the building would not impact the payout. I wouldnt worry to much about the height, its not like the terminal is over funded... they will need all the cash they can get.
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  #1143  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2007, 8:55 PM
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Originally Posted by rocketman_95046 View Post
I wouldnt worry to much about the height, its not like the terminal is over funded... they will need all the cash they can get.
This is San Francisco. Emotion overpowers Logic.
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  #1144  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 12:12 AM
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In theory, if Pelli provided half as much money for a tower that was whittled down to half the size of his initial proposal, the project would still bring in roughly the sum that was initially sought, no?
Yes, more or less (not sure about "half" the size, but considerably shorter). That's what I tried to say above.

The thing is, though, even if they get $350M from Pelli/Hines, they still come up short on the $2.4B needed for phase 2. I'm just hoping they realize they have to maximize what they get even if it means accepting a tall tower. And this is a case where if there's a demand for housing--by Daly or anyone--that will tend also to force the tower skyward since for a given height I'm sure the developer will pay less for a residential project than for office.

Finally, we need to remember that the Planning Dept. seems to want tall for tall's sake. Remember their artistic little diagrams of a triple-humped skyline and all that? They were the ones who started the talk about buildings over 1000 ft. in this area.

So maybe where we'll end up is a tower that's not 1200 or 1300 ft but maybe 1050 ft, with a residential component (a substantial part of which is "affordable') and for which Hines will pay maybe $200M or $250M. That way the planners get their new skyline "hump", the housing people get to say they extracted housing from the evil developer and, I hope, Hines gets an economically viable project. Unfortunately, the TJPA will still need a lot of money from somewhere.
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  #1145  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 3:55 AM
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Originally Posted by toddguy View Post
Isn't the bolded quote referring to the first(Rogers) proposal and NOT SOM? Are you not in fact then with that quote arguing for the first proposal?
Good question. I'm actually not sure if this was directed at a specific proposal, but I recall hearing them say something similar to this about Skidmore's proposal. I could be wrong of course, that "them" I refer to could be John King .
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  #1146  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 5:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Reminiscence View Post
Good question. I'm actually not sure if this was directed at a specific proposal, but I recall hearing them say something similar to this about Skidmore's proposal. I could be wrong of course, that "them" I refer to could be John King .
Rem- yes they were referring to Rogers'. It even says so right before they start bashing it. They actually like the SOM design but it's just too "BIG" for little old hippie granny San Francisco, oh yeah, and they're not selling out either, but instead trying to create a really great product.

It is kind of hard to bash the planning peeps for accepting a "sell out" when they desparately need money to get anything done. But then again I wonder, why do they need to tunnel under the city for the CalTrain tracks at all? Why not just relocate and build the new transbay center at the current terminus at 4th and King streets, saving millions if not billions of dollars? The infrastructe is already there, there are already two MUNI LRV lines that go right there, versus zero at the current 1st and mission zone. Someone in this forum argued this in the past, and I remember screaming WOLF because transbay is at such a better, central location, but when you really look at it, it would make more sense economically to just build the new station where the caltrain already is. But then we probably wouldn't get a cool huge tower, so then I"d have to change my mind on that one
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  #1147  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 6:18 AM
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Someone in this forum argued this in the past
C'est moi!
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  #1148  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2007, 5:18 PM
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Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post
Rem- yes they were referring to Rogers'. It even says so right before they start bashing it. They actually like the SOM design but it's just too "BIG" for little old hippie granny San Francisco, oh yeah, and they're not selling out either, but instead trying to create a really great product.

It is kind of hard to bash the planning peeps for accepting a "sell out" when they desparately need money to get anything done. But then again I wonder, why do they need to tunnel under the city for the CalTrain tracks at all? Why not just relocate and build the new transbay center at the current terminus at 4th and King streets, saving millions if not billions of dollars? The infrastructe is already there, there are already two MUNI LRV lines that go right there, versus zero at the current 1st and mission zone. Someone in this forum argued this in the past, and I remember screaming WOLF because transbay is at such a better, central location, but when you really look at it, it would make more sense economically to just build the new station where the caltrain already is. But then we probably wouldn't get a cool huge tower, so then I"d have to change my mind on that one
I agree that the terminal would have made more sense at the 4th and King location, but as you said we're now getting a landmark tower because of the move. Also, when you think about the terminal's intended goal of being a new gateway to the city, it does make quite a bit more sense to be located just south of Market.

That said, don't forget that the Planning Department is studying the air-rights around the 4th and King station (http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfi..._railyards.htm), so because of the move we may actually be ending up with towers in both locations. Which is a plus in my book
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  #1149  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by caramatt View Post
I agree that the terminal would have made more sense at the 4th and King location, but as you said we're now getting a landmark tower because of the move. Also, when you think about the terminal's intended goal of being a new gateway to the city, it does make quite a bit more sense to be located just south of Market.

That said, don't forget that the Planning Department is studying the air-rights around the 4th and King station (http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfi..._railyards.htm), so because of the move we may actually be ending up with towers in both locations. Which is a plus in my book
SPUR is planning on putting those caltrain tracks underground and using that land near the station for a 300- 400 foot tower as well as a walking park like district.
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  #1150  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 12:46 AM
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Spur

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SPUR is planning on putting those caltrain tracks underground and using that land near the station for a 300- 400 foot tower as well as a walking park like district.
I am not sure I would put it that way. SPUR is just a think tank. They even admitted in the paper that they are unsure of the financial and engineering implications of their proposal. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on that.

With regard to moving the terminal to 4th and King this is a a greatly inferior spot when you consider how buses are routed from the East Bay on ramps into the terminal as well as inferior for buses coming from Marin. What would the point be for the majority of commuters in passing there jobs and being dropped at 4th and King when the current terminal is often within walking distance to jobs? For train commuters it would basically be the same (a trip around the Embarcadero on the slow as hell N). There is no point in building anything unless it all goes to the TransBay
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  #1151  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 1:00 AM
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I am not sure I would put it that way. SPUR is just a think tank.
Oh, yes, I know. I should rephrase to say that they plan to do all that stuff
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  #1152  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 2:12 AM
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Originally Posted by tyler82
...there are already two MUNI LRV lines that go right there, versus zero at the current 1st and mission zone..
Are you forgetting the five-minute walk to Embarcadero or Montgomery?

Honestly, I can't see how the 4th/King location would be superior to the current location... First off, BART doesn't come anywhere close to 4th/King and as Zig pointed out, neither do AC Transit or GGT. Unless they magically build an elevated bus lane (like that'll ever happen), AC Transit would have to travel on city streets to reach that location.

And the current location wins out in terms of being close to the heart of the city. Yes, there's a lot of growth out in Mission Bay, but it's not anywhere near what's already at First/Mission and what's going up in the next decades.

What would have been smart would be to look at some way to combine the Central Subway and the Caltrain extension, although it's far too late into both projects for that.
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  #1153  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 2:29 AM
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Are you forgetting the five-minute walk to Embarcadero or Montgomery?

Honestly, I can't see how the 4th/King location would be superior to the current location... First off, BART doesn't come anywhere close to 4th/King and as Zig pointed out, neither do AC Transit or GGT.
It's superior in that it wouldn't cost $2.4 billion. That is not (yet) Federal money so it is money that COULD be reprogrammed to other transit uses. Think we could get a Geary subway for $2.4 billion? Which would you rather have?

BART doesn't come near 4th & King but 2 Muni Metro lines (T and N) connect 4th and King to the Embarcadero BART station and the Central Subway will connect it to the Powell BART Station.

Since you can also transfer from BART to CalTrain at Milbrae, what our $2.4 billion is getting "us" (meaning those of us who might want to connect from CalTrain or, someday, HSR, to BART) is not needing to make one extra transfer. And remember, the "us" being referred to are mainly peninsula commuters and/or people from the parts of SF served by the few BART stations in the City who might want to take CalTrain somewhere.

None of this seemed worth $2.4 billion to me at the time which is why I was part of the minority who voted "No" on the ballot measure about bringing CalTrain to the TransBay a few years back.

Like I said before, if I were "Emperor of San Francisco", what I'd do would be to eliminate height limits in the TransBay area and let developers like Hines build 1300 ft buildings if they want them there but also leave San Francisco's train station at 4th and King, building THERE a suitable station including, possibly, development such as SPUR is proposing.
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  #1154  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 5:33 AM
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BT-So you are

advocating leaving the bus terminal where it is and leaving the train station at 4th and King as is (maybe a small renovation of each)

I can see your point but I think it is shortsighted. It seems the money can be spent more wisely elsewhere and I agree that the City itself needs better transit

My opinion is we have to think more regionally. SF makes up only 11% of the region's population and this is not a good thing for traffic congestion or balance. SF has to reassert itself as the center of the region. According to one estimate from ABAG 30 million new sq feet of office space will be needed in SF alone over the next 30 years (1/2 of our current downtown size). New office space will also be built in the suburbs . How will all these people get to work? This is truly an investment in the future of the region that would be an asset even 100 years from now (think of regrettable missed opportunities of the past). If built for environmental reasons alone I imagine that some day there would be commuter trains traveling in both directions on the Peninsula from San Jose and Gilroy but also from further South and East. This new access to downtown and electrification (which could be as efficient as Bart) will someday spur new development of job clusters and housing along this natural corridor. There is really no other way for this region to stay competitive otherwise with what we have presently. Having people crush load onto the N Judah for a 25 minute ride doesn't cut it. Nobody is going to Chinatown (lets not even go there)

High Speed rail from the South and perhaps even another transbay tube (carrying Bart and conventional rail) and the terminus for a Geary subway are future possibilities.

It just unfortunate that everything is so disjointed and there is no vision on any level
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  #1155  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 5:41 AM
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Also you are looking at his only from the perspective of a San Franciscan, "what our $2.4 billion is getting "us"

I imagine if the project is ever built, because it has a huge regional and State function, money would be coming not only from all bay Area cities who might benefit but also would be heavily funded by the State and Feds when they finally get their minds wrapped around fighting sprawl and supporting smart transit. I think we are already moving in this way

I doubt this is a choice between a Geary subway and the Transbay
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  #1156  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 7:21 AM
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^^^I think we also need a modern bus terminal where the decrepit TransBay sits. But as a pure bus station, it doesn't have to be multi-blocks long and it doesn't have to be fancy or terribly expensive. To me, we are spending all that money to have a terminal making it possible to what? Get off CalTrain and onto a bus? Off a bus and onto Caltrain? As opposed to taking Muni metro to the existing CalTrain location? I just don't see that what we get for $2.4 billion transit dollars with this project is worth that much.

Clearly we need good transit into and out of the city--a fully electrified "mini-bullet" CalTrain with a spur across the lower Bay connecting with the ACE line would be nice. Unlike those here who aren't fans of BART, I'd like to see it go to San Jose and maybe someday cross the northern Bay to Marin (I think the engineering to cross the Golden gate strait is prohibitive). There are all sorts of improvements that could solidify SF as the core of the Bay Area. But $2.4 billion to make unnecessary a short ride on Muni metro and/or bring the heavy rail terminus what? 6 blocks closer to Market St.?

Read what I posted above about the funding. It's pretty clear where the funding is or isn't coming from at this point. Here, once again, is an exerpt:

Quote:
In February, however, Ed Harrington, San Francisco's city controller, who also serves as the authority's chief financial officer, questioned the assumptions the authority leadership seemed to be making about how it was going to get its job done - meaning extending Caltrain to downtown.
In a report, Harrington described the rail extension as a "very high-risk project," given that no money had been identified to cover most of the $2.4 billion cost.

Some funds have been secured, but a state high-speed rail bond, which could have brought $475 million to the terminal project, has bogged down in the Legislature. Meanwhile, a proposal for an extra fee on AC Transit riders traveling to the terminal has not been finalized.
Call for clarity

In an interview in February, Harrington said that those officials leading the terminal project need to devise a clear plan to fund the rail work.
"The fact that there is no one talking about where the money might come from is simply not good enough," Harrington said at the time. "A solution is not going to come out of nowhere."
Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...&sn=003&sc=386

So--the state money is "iffy", the AC Transit contribution is "iffy", as of yet there is no Federal contribution and so on. Maybe Nancy Pelosi, if she remains Speaker, can get us some money. Maybe the state HSR bond will eventually happen. Maybe AC transit (i.e. the East Bay) will kick in. And where, since this is so much about CalTrain, by the way, is any money from the Peninsula or South Bay?? Right now, though, this is pretty much a San Francisco project.
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  #1157  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 4:07 PM
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So--the state money is "iffy", the AC Transit contribution is "iffy", as of yet there is no Federal contribution and so on. Maybe Nancy Pelosi, if she remains Speaker, can get us some money. Maybe the state HSR bond will eventually happen. Maybe AC transit (i.e. the East Bay) will kick in. And where, since this is so much about CalTrain, by the way, is any money from the Peninsula or South Bay?? Right now, though, this is pretty much a San Francisco project.
Where are we getting the money for the central subway? Isn't that going to cost more? And when will construction start on that?

Since the possibility of a Democractic controlled congress and a Dem. president looks better and better every day, I have a feeling that SF will be getting quite a lot more "attention" than the current doofus.

Last edited by tyler82; Sep 14, 2007 at 4:34 PM.
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  #1158  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 4:56 PM
Richard Mlynarik Richard Mlynarik is offline
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[...]Read what I posted above about the funding. It's pretty clear where the funding is or isn't coming from at this point. Here, once again, is an exerpt:[...]
That article was a hit-piece planted/sole-sourced by staff at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and should be read in context.

The SFCTA's power-mad executive director, in particular, has been engaged in turf wars for years, seeking to expand his remit, at what was created as a funding agency administering sales tax receipts, to be the lord and master of all he surveys, designing freeways, designing subways, controlling huge project budgets, cutting deals to sabotage state-wide infrastructure (HSR via Pacheco is a SFCTA deal cut with VTA to ensure Central Subway pork flows), etc.

The TA's unmitigated record of failure at all of these tasks, of course, not to mention its profound past incompetence at the very most basic, checkbook-balancing-level of financial management, doesn't need to be recounted.

And do recall that the TA's Mr Moscovich personally, through active agency collusion with a private real estate developer along with the SF Mayor's Office, acting directly contrary to the public interest and in gross breach of public fiducial interest, has already cost the Transbay project many hundreds of millions of dollars in construction cost escalation alone, beyond the payout made to the developer. Quite the achievement!

The fact that a nominally independent, regionally-constitituted, legally-formed JPA is responsible for designing, building and operating an important and hugely expensive transportation facility and that the TA staff are not calling all the shots, is something that some power-hungry apparatchiks find unacceptable, and have since the turn of the century.


The Chronicle piece reads like a character assassination of another bureaucrat and a salvo in an inter-agency takedown war because, well, because it is. Read through again. Who are the sources? What are the substantive points made? Why is this appearing now? Qui bono?


And if any of you still have any doubts that we will never see any real progress of any type in our corrupt little third-rate fiefdom of city, well, this sort of thing shoud dispel them. It's hardly unique, of course.

(Oh, and please note I am no fan of the TJPA's technical accomplishments, though its political record is simply amazing to anybody who has followed the sordid record of the City and County of San Francisco's attempts to completely destroy the Transbay Terminal over three decades.)

Good thing we have nice weather, a beautiful physical setting, and not of lot of recent seismic activity, or one could get quite dispirited about the place.
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  #1159  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 5:12 PM
Richard Mlynarik Richard Mlynarik is offline
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Where are we getting the money for the central subway? [...]
"Earmarks". You know, the things Speaker Pelosi claims are a thing of the past.

The deal that has gone down is that in return for supporting BART to San Jose (and actively opposing anything which might be even remotely perceived as a more cost effective alternative to it, such as HSR between the Central Valley, Livermore, Fremont and San Jose), San Francisco gets promises that leverage will be applied at the state and federal level to secure further earmarks for the Central Subway. Santa Clara and San Francisco counties will continue, as in the past, to defund their obligations to their local bus riders and to the regional Caltrain system, in the latter case by pretending that a fictional future multi-billion HSR tooth fairy will suddenly dedicate two billion or exclusively to Caltrain, so we don't need to worry about that.

(And Oakland? Who cares about Oakland? The Alameda County CMA staff's priorities 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10 are freeway and sprawl road projects, with the Caldecott Tunnel at the top of the list.)

You'll note that BART to San Jose and the SF Central Subway have been explicitly excluded from the federal (FTA section 5309) legislation that requires projects to pass even the lowest cost-effectiveness criterium.

In other words, business as usual. It's almost exactly the same tactics, and even almost exactly the same cast of characters, that brought us the last fifteen years of transportation disaster, where BART to Millbrae (1/3 predicted ridership), BART to Dublin and two utterly worthless VTA light rail lines were funded under fraudulent misrepresentation to the state and federal governments, while other, more cost-effective investments languished, and the hundreds of thousands of daily riders of Muni and AC Transit were hung out to dry.

They'll get the money. And we'll all be much the worse for it.
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  #1160  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2007, 5:36 PM
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Where are we getting the money for the central subway? Isn't that going to cost more? And when will construction start on that?

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Originally Posted by Richard Mlynarik View Post
"Earmarks". You know, the things Speaker Pelosi claims are a thing of the past.
Right. Which is why it makes more sense to oppose the "CalTrain to 1st & Mission" proposal than the Central Subway. Most of the Central Subway money, as "earmarks" can only be spent on that project and it would be very difficult to substitute any other project if we chose not to buiuld the subway. So far, the "CalTrain to 1st & Mission" idea has only local money behind it, money that we could redirect.

But let's be clear. This is all just idle chatter. Both projects are politically wired to the extent that they are doable. The subway seems to have enough funding to get done. The CalTrain/TransBay as yet does not and therein lies the problem although, again, Madams Pelosi/Feinstein/Boxer may come through as might (less likely IMHO) the state (especially if the next governor is somebody like Jerry Brown).
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