Market Street is set to see its second major office-to-residential conversion with the Humboldt Bank Building, located at 785 Market Street. Forge Development reportedly has plans to convert the Humboldt Bank Building into a residential apartment complex. The building is slated to house 120 units for middle-income residents.

At this time, it is unclear how occupied the 100,000-square-foot building currently is, if at all. Constructed in 1906, the Humboldt Bank Building is positioned mid-block and contains a Men’s Warehouse in its base. The building was considered a skyscraper in its day with a 19-story tower facing the street and multiple offices that stretch back to Stevenson Street.

Reports show that Forge Development, which has recently finished a 240-unit residential project (TL Residences at 361 Turk/145 Leavenworth) in the Tenderloin, has plans to purchase the Humboldt Bank Building. Construction is set to begin soon. Forge Development has hired the same architect (Gensler) they used for the Tenderloin project, and an unreported number of the 120 apartment units will be livable by 2025.

The Humboldt Bank Building has notably sturdy bones as the result of a previous natural disaster. According to reports, the building was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1906 while it was being constructed. The builder then proceeded to continue construction with the highest possible structural standards at the time.

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Architect and CEO of Forge Development, Richard Hannum, spoke about the Humboldt Bank Building, saying it is, “The poster child for conversions,” and “exactly the right building” for a project of this type. This comes as a refreshing notion as San Francisco Mayor London Breed and others have discussed transforming empty downtown spaces into livable homes. Through these conversations, many have noted that these old office towers are poor candidates for conversion. Their large floor plates, scant plumbing, and very few windows do not make for easy flips into apartments, lofts, or any other habitable unit.

Fortunately for the Humboldt Bank Building at 785 Market Street, one side of the building that reaches into the block, away from the Market Street façade, already has many windows facing an open plaza below (Yerba Buena Lane). Immediately adjacent is a one-story retail structure currently housing Peet’s Coffee, as well as a low-slung portion of the Marriott Marquis complex that stands proudly at six stories high. This layout results in multiple stories of residences with views of downtown and the nearby Bay with very few obstructions. Additionally, the top of the tower could easily be adapted into trendy loft units.

The deal to purchase the property is not finalized. However, Forge Development appears extremely bullish in moving forward with the project as soon as possible. Mayor Breed’s office is reportedly doing its best to get the project through the approvals process.

Forge Development intends to keep rent at levels affordable to median-income earners, much like the TL Residences project. One other residential conversion project is presently underway on Market Street in the Warfield Building. At least eight other buildings downtown are on the docket for office-to-residential conversion.