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Region celebrates completion of $51M project at San Francisco's U.S. Appraisers Building

By Niah Whitmore

Exterior of the renovated U S Appraisers Building in San Francisco

On August 23, 2012, the Pacific Rim Region hosted a celebration event in honor of the U.S. Appraisers Building at 630 Sansome Street in San Francisco, California. The event celebrated the building’s prospectus-level renovation project, which recently completed after nearly a decade. More than 50 GSA and tenant agency personnel participated in the event, which highlighted both the history of the facility and the significant building improvements made during the project.

The program opened with the U.S. Coast Guard Base Alameda Color Guard’s Presentation of the Colors and a moving rendition of the National Anthem sung by GSA’s own Amy Lebetsamer. Regional Administrator Ruth Cox welcomed attendees and talked about the significant role the U.S. Appraisers Building played in the city during San Francisco’s early years.

“The U.S. Appraisers Building has played an important role in appraisal and immigrations functions here in San Francisco going back to the city’s infancy as an important commercial center and transfer point between international and local freight,” Cox said. “After the Angel Island Immigration station closed, this facility served as a primary gateway for Asian entrants to the United States. It’s hard to imagine as you look around the building today that the upper floors once contained dormitories, day rooms, and kitchens to support the individual needs of different ethnic groups.”

Among the many improvements made during the $51.6 million project: renovations of 15 tenant, basement and mechanical floors; upgraded interior spaces; remodeled lobby, front entrance and snack bar; restored historic courtroom on the fourth floor; exterior repairs; and restored original architectural finishes within the building.

Just as important as these visible modifications were the systems upgrades. During the lifespan of the project, the project team corrected a number of life safety deficiencies and improved accessibility for tenants and visitors with disabilities. The elevators were modified. Almost 60 percent of the mechanical and electrical systems were upgraded, while 85 percent of the fire protection systems were also upgraded.

“Although LEED® certification is not attainable in this project, we have incorporated some of the guidelines with regards to installing LED lighting, use of motion sensors, recycling program, waste reduction and water conservation,” said Building Manager Opelia Opelinia.

Cox was joined by Robin Barrett, field office director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, who spoke about the construction project from a tenant agency’s perspective. She thanked GSA for the close communication and coordination during the project and said having the ability to continue to serve their customers throughout the project was critical.

Former GSA Building Manager Warren Sitterley participated as a guest speaker at the event. Sitterley started his career with GSA over 30 years ago at 630 Sansome and worked in the building up until his retirement in July. He possesses a wealth of knowledge about this building and returned to share some of his impressions with the celebration’s guests.

“As Ruth mentioned, I retired from the GSA last month, but it was here in this building that I began my career, and it was here that I ended it,” said Sitterley. “I was the chief engineer here for about seven years in the ‘80s, and a good case could be made that this building was my 'first love,' professionally speaking. It was here that I developed affection for older, historic buildings and built a deep pride in repairing and restoring them. You now have, I think, a building much more suitable to how you are organized and one that better suits your missions and goal.”

The event closed with a building tour conducted by Project Manager Fred Jang and Assistant Property Manager Opelia Opelinia.

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