The Pacific, at 2121 Webster Street, is not like other condo projects in town.
Every new building says that, of course. It’s the foundation of marketing: "We’re offering what no one else can." But in this case, you have to give them their due: There is no other brand new, ultra pricy, dizzingly ritzy hive of homes on an acre of Pacific Heights property.
That kind of available land just doesn’t exist in one of San Francisco’s most intimidatingly wealthy neighborhoods. So that standard sales pitch admittedly resonates at a bit higher frequency when you look out the window of the building in question and stare down at the summit of Alta Plaza Park, immediately across the street.
The building once housed a dental school. When developers Trumark Urban secured the land and the rights to build, you wouldn’t have been blamed if you searched their offices for a magic lamp. It’s like stumbling on a species long thought extinct; the coelacanth of Pac Heights.
The 76-unit, $200 million building designed by Handel Architects broke ground nearly two years ago, and is still an active construction site. But Curbed SF was able to set foot in one of the model units for a look around and a conversation with Trumark managing director Arden Hearing.
Hearing, who initially sat with his back to the sixth-floor window so as not to be distracted by the view of Karl the Fog rolling with the Golden Gate Bridge, refers to himself as "a little raw." That is, a little unused to media attention. But he clearly relished the opportunity to show off the extra trimmings on his building.
Do you want to hear about the hand milled woodwork? He’ll tell you (and also show you, running his hands over the texture so that you can’t miss it yourself). Or the marble slab counters (not countertops, mind you, but the whole thing)?
Or how about the protruding aperture windows, signature of the residential structure? Those are a one-of-a-kind design, as Hearing tells it, noting that crews initially had trouble figuring out how to load them onto the trucks.
A Helen Amy Murray installation stitched from a single piece of leather hangs in the lobby. The entryways to the units feature bronze mirrors worked into the door frames. Even the building’s garage has a tiled floor all its own, and brass elevator doors.
There have been a few unexpected snags while putting it all together, of course. Soaring labor costs led to delays. So too did shortages on even basic building materials. Once, they’d hoped to have the building done in April, but work is still ongoing, with the first tours scheduled for July 25, and first move-ins anticipated for the end of the summer.
It’s an entirely different world and market now than when the project began, but Hearing has no patience for talk of a softening condo market. "We’re drastically undersupplied, the stock market is at an all-time high, and unemployment is three percent," he says. "If I could fly in someone from ten years ago, they’d think this was paradise."
San Francisco’s paradise status has come with crushing price tags, of course. The Pacific is no exception: Homes start at just under $2 million, and go as high as $20 million.
Although, Trumark stops just short of framing this as a quasi-affordable niche in the neighborhood. After all, $2 million isn’t milk money, but the average house in Pac Heights costs over $5 million. (The Pacific’s sales video, however, claims it’s more like $10 million.)
Being inside a building like this is as unreal as it is posh. The view from those one-of-kind windows is remarkable, but the city and reality feel a million miles away. Hearing talks about making the building a part of the neighborhood, but in practice it feels like a world of its own.
Maybe that’s what The Pacific’s future residents want. Or maybe they’ll just bring their own ties to the city and neighborhood in with them. If so, it’s probably the only thing they’ll have to furnish themselves.
All images photographed by Patricia Chang.