Which Building Has The Best View In San Francisco?

Downtown San Francisco has rapidly become an urban jungle with high rise construction on every block between Market and Brannan Street. Since 2009, more than 10 condominium buildings have risen from the ground, and almost all are at full capacity. The question begs to be asked, which has the best view?

Condos with a view have a view premium included in the purchase price. Typically, the view premium runs something along the lines of:

  • 0: No View

  • 5% added to the purchase price compared to the market: Good View

  • 10%: Great View

  • 15%: Unbeatable view

How arbitrary, right? Simply put, somewhere between this delta is where the pricing of the real estate tends to land. Both developers and traditional realtors use this model to the best of their ability to fairly price homes in the neighborhood.

For this ranking scale, however, all we care about is how jaw-dropping the view really is. From downtown, we have 2 main orientations:

Bay Bridge Views

These are the highly desired, jaw-dropping, stop you in your tracks the second you walk into the room-type views, and tend to eat up that full 15% premium. There are a handful of buildings with INSANE Bay & Bay Bridge views:

The Harrison:

Perched on top of Rincon Hill with no view impediments, 401 Harrison Street quite literally sits on top of the Bay Bridge, and views from Uncle Harry’s - the private, homeowner only penthouse lounge on the 49th floor - are just about unbeatable. 

Uncle Harry's, The Harrison | Condo Weekly

I mean, how do you beat that…

Uncle Harry's, 401 Harrison St | Condo Weekly

One Rincon Hill:

Right behind The Harrison, One Rincon Hill was the original of the two towers at 425 1st Street on Rincon Hill. ORH stands 11 floors higher than The Harrison, with a penthouse condos on floor 60. The only reason these views are ranked behind The Harrison - Every view from ORH has 401 Harrison street in it. 

Unit #6001 sold earlier in 2019.

Unit #6001 sold earlier in 2019.

The Infinity:

Being the OG high rise in South Beach (now East Cut), The Infinity has held the view title since construction. Offering a pure, unimpeded view of the water, the traditional high rise buyers all flocked to 301 Main street. Coincidentally, the penthouse at 301 Main has been notoriously dropping in price as its been for sale for the past few years. It has one hell of a view, though.

Infinity Penthouse | Condo Weekly

MIRA:

The spiraling tower that draws so many eyes architecturally, also has some pretty decent places to sit back and stare at the passing ships. Sitting adjacent to The Infinity on Folsom and Spear Street, MIRA’s higher floors might arguably have the best Bay Bridge views in the city.

*We just haven’t been up there yet, so we obviously cant throw it at #1.

MIRA & Bay Bridge Views | Condo Weekly

The Avery:

The new kid on the block, sitting 4 blocks back from the bay at 488 Folsom Street, but rising 53 floors into the sky has some incredible views. We recently toured the grand penthouse on level 53, and my jaw didn’t last the length of the foyer entryway before hitting the oak flooring. Not bad for ~ $17M.

The Avery Penthouse | Condo Weekly

181 Fremont:

While the views are still exceptional from 181, the Park Tower development directly in front of the building rounds them in at the bottom of our list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still living in this master..

181 Fremont | Condo Weekly

*Of course this photo depicts the worst angle of the view from the bedroom. Let us have this one for ranking purposes..

Twin Peaks & South Facing Views

This is where 181, The Avery and One Rincon Hill reign supreme.

I have to give the #1 spot to The Avery, especially after just touring 5205 (1 floor below the penthouse) with incredible southwest views over Twin Peaks and the rolling mountains of the Silicon Valley.

The Avery Penthouse | Condo Weekly

181 Fremont’s D stack comes in a close second:

181 Fremont | Condo Weekly

*With 555 Howard sprouting up in the near future, expect some of those views to change.

This rendering was too good not to share..

555 Howard Public Space | Condo Weekly

One Rincon Hill is a stalwart for sweeping westerly views and has held down the most epic sunsets of all the buildings for the past decade. This is typically where condo shoppers have a hard time deciding on these two views:

  • Sunrises and Bay bridge views are epic

  • Sunsets, though..

As luck would have it, no re-sale listing has captured a sunset from the 05 stack, just as no agent re-selling, The Harrison (almost identical views from G residences) has nailed a sunset image in their marketing, either. If that happens to you when you’re selling, fire your agent. Digital marketing is king, that marketing cache better be impeccable, otherwise, it’s a sloppy job.

Our Building Specialists are backed by Condo Weekly’s digital marketing team, with 4K video, high def photography and about as much creative as you would expect from a B2B creative agency, all on-demand to make sure the sunsets & sunrises are perfectly captured. We pride ourselves on just how many buyers view our homes (yes we track analytics and build SEO friendly property websites) as well as have a digital marketing team in-house to pump your property to potential buyers.

If you own a home, you need to see what you’re missing..

Tim McMullen