How Park Tower became the largest single lease in San Francisco history
The stunning 43-story high-rise secured a Fortune 500 tech tenant to occupy the entire building.
Largest lease in San Francisco history
12 outdoor sky decks
751,000 square feet
It’s hard to miss Park Tower. Anyone driving across San Francisco’s Bay Bridge will immediately notice the blue all-glass façade and visible outdoor sky decks with unmatched bay views.
It’s a vision that looked completely different just five years ago.
“I think Park Tower is a special building,” said Evan Schwimmer, Senior Vice President for The John Buck Company. “It was one of the first projects, or the only project in the market, if not the country that was, designed, built, and entitled all in the current market cycle. It's such a rare opportunity to produce something that's uniquely designed, and oriented to our ultimate customer, which is the tenant.”
Earthquake opens opportunity in hot sub-market
It all started in with a natural disaster in the late 1980s that collapsed the Embarcadero Freeway, the main thoroughfare that connected the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.
“We had what was called the Loma Prieta earthquake,” said Chris Roeder, International Director for JLL San Francisco. “It took about 10 years to develop all the parcels of land under that freeway and it helped create what today is probably one of the hottest sub-markets in the world, the South Financial District.”
In 2014, Roeder, along with Wes Powell and Steve Anderson — both Managing Directors for Agency Leasing at JLL — had their eye on one of those parcels of land and envisioned a high-rise with sweeping views of the bay. Soon after, The John Buck Company came on board as the developer, and MetLife Real Estate Investors provided the remaining equity.
“We knew we wanted to move into a new asset and develop ground up, and Park Tower was the perfect opportunity,” said Kaya Murray, Director for MetLife Real Estate Investors in San Francisco.
Entitlements speed up the development process
Once John Buck and MetLife became equal partners in the project, the city sold the land to them fully entitled, allowing Park Tower to be designed and built very quickly.
It also allowed JLL to be part of the initial planning stages of the building, including input into the design and how it would be laid out. Roeder, Anderson and Powell used all the aspects of the tenant community they were trying to attract to the building by incorporating things like raised access flooring, outdoor sky decks and cold storage in the basement.
Vertical campus of the future
Roeder and team knew if they could design the building in a way that appealed to everything that a tech company would want in the workplace, they’d come up with some sort of vertical campus, which they were able to do. And while they kept the building options flexible for the possibility of multiple tenants, they were ultimately able to lease the entire building to a well-known Fortune 500 tech company, resulting in the largest lease in San Francisco history.
“I think JLL is uniquely adept at thinking through what the market needed in advance of what was actually needed at the time,” said Schwimmer. “The team that JLL staffed here were always thinking about us and making us feel like we were their only client. And you know that makes the client feel special. At the end of the day, it's a big success that everybody should be proud of.”
And it’s not just a success from a commercial real estate perspective, it is for the community as well. For MetLife, investing in a building like Park Tower helps to fund people’s retirement accounts. “Being able to have a positive impact on this city does drive me,” said Murray. “We’re managing people’s 401ks, yours and mine. And to know that we’re invested in a project like Park Tower, that’s a win.”