Construction begins on 802-foot San Francisco high-rise

Shovels sticking out of a pile of dirt near Fremont Street on Tuesday morning marked the birth of another building that will climb skyward in The City’s rapidly changing South of Market.

But before the shovels were thrust, white-jacketed waiters served aguas frescas to a crowd awaiting Mayor Ed Lee and the backers of 181 Fremont St., who would speak about the residential and office space that will rise 802 feet and is expected to be the tallest structure of its kind west of the Mississippi.

“This project will be a magnificent addition to the whole Transbay center,” Lee said of the under-construction Transbay Transit Center.

“I don’t think people realize what a monumental change this is to San Francisco to create this district, this transportation center and to get all the diverse interests of this city to come together and make this happen,” said owner and project funder Jay Paul.

The 145-acre Transit Center District increased building heights and was created to focus dense development downtown around the transit hub.

The $500 million Fremont Street building, which is near Howard Street and is slated for completion in 2016, is funded by the Jay Paul Co., a San Francisco-based real estate firm behind a number of Silicon Valley tech-related projects.

Affordable-housing units are expected to take up 15 percent of the total stock.

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