A former dental school in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights has been reborn with some of the most expensive condos in the city.
Developer Trumark Urban’s The Pacific, where unit prices exceed $20 million, is the culmination of a four-year development process. It’s also the most high-profile project for Trumark Urban Managing Director Arden Hearing, who has seized the current economic boom to become one of the city’s most active condo builders.
The renovation of the former University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry campus at 2121 Webster St., is one of the only large-scale condo projects in Pacific Heights. It’s part of a portfolio and pipeline of about 700 condo units in San Francisco that Trumark Urban has built and proposed.
In 2016, Trumark Urban opened the 70-unit Rowan at 338 Potrero Ave. at the eastern edge of the Mission near Potrero Hill. Rowan had development costs of $57 million. It is also developing the 91-unit, $75 million Knox at 645 Texas St. in Dogpatch, which has begun sales and will be completed this year. “We’re really committed to being in San Francisco where other people are not,” said Hearing. “Most of the units in San Francisco are for rent and downtown or Transbay-oriented. We are doing for-sale and not there.”
The Business Times selected Arden Hearing as Dealmaker of the Year because of the breadth of Trumark Urban’s projects, which span the industrial Dogpatch and near changing Mid-Market to tony Pacific Heights. The developer’s ability to win approvals with neighborhood support in a city with frequent development battles made Trumark Urban stand out. The sky-high prices at the Pacific, where sales have exceeded $3,700 a square foot in one unit, according to market data, are a testament to the developer’s marketing prowess.
Hearing credited the “endless, countless late nights” with neighborhood groups that helped the developer’s seven approved projects to date win unanimous votes at the Planning Commission.
“We spend a lot of time finding ways to partner with the local community to lift up” the sites where they build, which are often underused property, said Hearing.
That includes supporting different neighborhoods’ open spaces. Trumark Urban gave a $50,000 gift and committed 600 man-hours of cleanup each quarter at Franklin Square Park next to the Rowan. For Knox, it contributed $10,000 to the new Dogpatch Playground.
“They’re smart. They’re thoughtful. They’re very responsive to community needs. That’s what the city wants to see,” said Paul Zeger, partner of Polaris Pacific, the brokerage for most of Trumark Urban’s projects.
Hearing was born in Tokyo, and moved to the U.S. as a young child. After graduating from the University of Washington Foster School of Business and then Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he arrived in San Francisco in 1990s, working in strategic partnerships with tech companies. He got into real estate after the dot-com bust and found a calling.
He joined Trumark Cos. in 2006, the Irvine-based parent company of Trumark Urban. He launched Trumark Urban in 2012 to focus on multifamily projects in dense neighborhoods, mostly in San Francisco and also in Los Angeles.
A year later, Trumark Urban acquired the former Dugoni School of Dentistry building in Pacific Heights. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay were reportedly so distracting to dental students that the windows were blacked out.
“There’s no neighborhood that has a higher profile or a higher potential than Pacific Heights,” said Hearing.
Trumark Urban decided to keep the shell of the building, which won support from neighbors. They loved the plan because a condo conversion would mean less traffic than the school generated.
The developer hired Handel Architects and contractor Plant Construction to breathe new life into the shell.
Glenn Rescalvo, partner at Handel Architects, said the new facade and its windows, which protrude in triangular shapes, was informed by the neighborhood’s historic bay windows.
As it conceptualized and built the project, Trumark Urban hosted over 30 top real estate brokers to get their feedback on design and pricing. In exchange, the brokers got to show the project early to their clients when it was completed.
“By engaging the brokers, they became big supporters,” said Zeger of Polaris Pacific, the building’s sales brokerage.
The Pacific is also using virtual reality headsets to show buyers what finished interiors will look like, in partnership with design firm Steelblue.
Over 50 of the 76 units have been sold. The condos range from about 1,000 to 4,000 square feet, with pricing just under $2 million to over $20 million.
The building’s amenities include a rooftop deck, concierge services, a fitness center and lounge, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Hearing and Trumark Urban aren’t slowing down. It also has approvals for more condo projects at 1554 Market St. and 1601 Mission St.
“Navigating four to five projects at one time – it’s very challenging and inspiring,” said Hearing.