(Bloomberg)—One of the most visible symbols of San Francisco’s technology-fueled boom is nearing completion and reshaping the city’s skyline.
Builders laid the final beam yesterday for Salesforce Tower, a $1 billion skyscraper that now stands as the tallest office building west of Chicago. The 1,070-foot (326-meter) tower is set to be finished this summer and the main tenant, Salesforce.com Inc., expects to start moving in by the end of the year.
Developers Boston Properties Inc. and Hines broke ground on the 1.4 million-square-foot (130,000-square-meter) tower in 2013, near the start of an economic surge that has sent real estate prices soaring. It’s the biggest and most ambitious project in what city Supervisor Jane Kim called San Francisco’s largest construction boom since the 1906 earthquake. It also shows the weight of Salesforce, founded 18 years ago and now the city’s biggest tech tenant.
“Salesforce Tower is the beacon of the new economy,” said J.D. Lumpkin, managing principal of the San Francisco office of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., who helped represent Boston Properties in Salesforce’s record 2014 lease. “It’s an aspirational thing for companies here, that you can build something from scratch over the course of 20 years that employs thousands of people in San Francisco, and tens of thousands of people around the world.”
Salesforce, whose software helps businesses with tasks such as managing customer relationships and marketing to consumers, is taking 714,000 square feet at the building, which supplanted the Transamerica Pyramid as the city’s tallest. Tenants also will include management-consulting firms Bain & Co. and Accenture Plc. About 400,000 square feet is still available, Bob Pester, executive vice president for the San Francisco region at Boston Properties, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in the city.
The company has competition from other new buildings rising. There is 5.9 million square feet of offices under construction in the city, with about 38.8 percent pre-leased, according to data from property brokerage Savills Studley Inc. San Francisco had about 81 million square feet of offices as of the end of 2016.
Rod Diehl, Boston Properties’ senior vice president for leasing, said the company is seeing demand from a mix of businesses. Touring activity by potential tenants has increased fourfold in the past 60 days, Pester said.
“I can tell you that I don’t lose sleep at night at all about that space,” he said. “This is not on my radar screen as something to worry about.”
Boston Properties had started the building, formerly known as Transbay Tower, on a speculative basis before signing Salesforce as a tenant. While that was a risk, “we saw momentum in the market as far as leasing activity, and we thought it was a very measured risk,” Pester said.
Mort Zuckerman, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Boston Properties, was a champion of the building and was instrumental in negotiating directly with Salesforce Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff for the lease deal, Pester said.
Benioff, who co-founded Salesforce and is a prominent philanthropist in the city, said the building is the ultimate expression of the “inspiration” he felt when walking in San Francisco as a boy with his grandfather, who was a city supervisor, watching the Transamerica Pyramid tower being built.
“He used to tell me how the future of San Francisco was rising up,” he said at the ceremony yesterday for the topping off of the building. “That inspiration really gave birth to Salesforce,” which develops cloud-based software designed to boost salespeoples’ productivity.
Salesforce is leasing the bottom half of the tower, plus the 60th and 61st floors. Views from the 61st floor, to be the highest occupied space, show much of the Bay Area, from the Bay and Golden Gate bridges to the 101 and 280 highways snaking to the south toward San Bruno Mountain.
The 61st floor will be used by Salesforce for meetings, conferences and programs, and will be open in the evenings to city and local organizations for their own programs, Benioff said. It will be known as the “Ohana” floor, taking the Hawaiian word for family, a touchstone in the company’s corporate philosophy of treating not only its own employees like family, but being open and involved with the surrounding community.
The 60th floor will be “almost a deconstructed executive briefing center,” said Elizabeth Pinkham, the company’s executive vice president for global real estate. It will have sliding glass walls, allowing it to be configured to the specific event, be it large training sessions or more private meetings.
Pinkham said the company is hoping the building will be ready for visitors before the next “Dreamforce” corporate conference in November, where clients from all over the world converge to attend sessions designed to build their skills and interact with peers and corporate leaders. Last year about 170,000 people attended.
Salesforce Tower is beside the Transbay Transit Center, a $6 billion project that will tie together 11 transportation systems. In addition to transit, the center will feature a 5.4-acre (2.2-hectare) rooftop park. Both the skyscraper and the transit hub were designed by the architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli.
The building also is across the street from Millennium Tower, a luxury-condominium building that has tilted and sunk several inches into the earth. At the topping off ceremony, Pester of Boston Properties made a point of saying his skyscraper’s foundation is drilled more than 300 feet into “bedrock, baby.”
--With assistance from Brian Womack.To contact the reporter on this story: David M. Levitt in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Taub at [email protected] Kara Wetzel
© 2017 Bloomberg L.P