One of the saddest architectural sights on the blocks near San Francisco's Civic Center is the backside of 1455 Market St.
The ground floor is coated in speckled beige concrete that looks as if it was patterned by pushing giant egg cartons into wet cement. The walls above are the same concrete, but here the facade shifts to a ribbed corduroy finish that's not necessarily an improvement.
The stubby, 16-story tower atop the five-story base has a certain blunt rigor. The scene along Market Street does its best to be inviting, no easy task within two blocks of misery-filled United Nations Plaza. Overall, though, it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to work here — and no surprise that the tech firms that briefly made this a coveted address have packed or are packing their bags.
Once again in San Francisco, as in all cities, the underlying power of place is reasserting itself.
Or to put it in real estate terms: location, location, location.
I visited 1455 Market this week before Tuesday's hellacious deluge and after the news that Reddit will soon move out of the space that it occupies in the 45-year-old structure. The internet forum will relocate by September to 303 Second St., a 10-story office complex at Folsom and Second streets.
There are no grand views in Reddit's next home, and the 1988 complex has a suburban feel. But it's a short walk to the Embarcadero in one direction and the Giants' ballpark in another. There's a spacious plaza in front and ever-sumptuous South Park is nearby.
In other words, 303 Second sits within an area that bustles in boom times and feels pretty good even in the city's murky here-and-now. Walking a few blocks to work can be fun, not depressing.
Compare this to the area around Reddit's current home at Market and Eleventh. The one attraction to outsiders is the sublime lure of Littlejohn's Candies — if you haven't gone, you should — and there's a Muni stop close at hand. Otherwise you see empty storefronts, and sidewalks largely empty except for the people striding through on their way somewhere else, or individuals plagued by mental illness or drug abuse.
The mood was different when Reddit arrived at the end of 2019, joining such proudly disruptive 21st century brands as Uber, Square (now known as Block) and WeWork. The arrival seemed to provide more evidence that long-tawdry Mid-Market was being reborn as tech's Miracle Mile. All systems seemed go-go.
Problem is, the stretch of Market Street near Van Ness Avenue always has been a faint star in northeast San Francisco's constellation of attractions. That's why 1455 Market Street looks the way it does, including that base with floors that cover nearly 2 acres: the Bank of America purchased the land in 1974 to build a computer center to process checks and deposit slips and all those other scraps that once constituted daily financial life. The massive machinery whirred behind windowless walls; an immense vault was hidden within. Even the floors of the tower are more that half an acre, designed to pack as many workers inside as possible.
Other chunky, back-office-type buildings joined it in the 1980s, the idea being that corporations needing cheap space with large floors could build it in San Francisco rather than the East Bay. Then technology advanced to the point where remote workers could be in Oklahoma or India as easily as San Ramon, and the boxy behemoths began emptying out. Mid-Market's decline deepened.
Factors at this scale — more than the relatively modest incentive for Market Street-based firms in 2011 that became known infamously as the Twitter tax break — explain why tech firms flocked to the blocks between Fifth Street and Van Ness Avenue for a decade or so. There were few other options.
Consider the testimony of Victor Coleman, chairman of Hudson Pacific Properties, which purchased 1455 Market in 2009 from the Bank of America.
"The reality was that the city didn't have a lot of square footage available, so growth had to go in this direction," Coleman told Bloomberg in 2013. "People told me I bought the ugliest building in San Francisco, but that's great because the only way to go is up."
The catch being that what goes up, can come down. Uber built itself a sharp-looking headquarters in Mission Bay, with Chase Center to the south and a waterfront park going in to the east. Square is migrating to Oakland's Uptown, in a cool remake of a former department store. WeWork, which, before the pandemic, seemed intent on leasing every available square foot of space in every prosperous American city, now has "only" 10 San Francisco locations.
Once Reddit goes east, the only large tenant left will be Muni's transportation management center.
Theoretically, this makes 1455 Market a candidate to be an incubator for how unneeded office buildings can help the pandemic-stricken downtown towards a resilient future. The test case we need! But with its awkward dimensions and dicey location, I can't picture a scenario where a conversion from office to apartments or cultural spaces would make sense. Even the floors of the tower are more than half an acre in size, designed to pack as many workers inside as possible.”
Give Hudson Pacific credit — the Los Angeles-based real estate firm that bills itself as "focused on epicenters of innovation" on its website — lightened up the behemoth's presence as much as it could. The retail strip along Market has a high sloped entrance to invite you in. The windowless base that shielded computers has been punctured by windows in certain locations. By all accounts, the office spaces are top-notch.
But in today's San Francisco, where the office vacancy rate approaches 30% and companies like Salesforce and Facebook are offering multiple floors of their office space to any takers, there are plenty of other options.
That's how cities work. In boom times, economic tides rise so far and so fast that it seems as if they never will stop. Then comes a recession or worse, and those same forces recede.
With luck, downtown San Francisco's tide has reached its low point. But here's another urban truth: We never can tell what the future might hold.
Reach John King: [email protected]; Twitter: @johnkingsfchron
- Future of dozens of building projects in several states in doubt after collapse of major construction company
- Downfall of UK's 'futuristic' shopping mall once hailed as 'city without weather'
- Lost City With Pyramid Rewrites History
- UK 'worst city' many people are flocking to but locals want to leave immediately
- Innovation often follows a boom-and-bust cycle—just look at Atari and Bitcoin
- How London Is Building The Future Of Sustainable Style
- How Helsinki Can Advance The World Of Tech
- 6 things I'd love to see in Cities: Skylines 2
- An A.I. Start-Up Boomed, but Now It Faces a Slowing Economy and New Rules
- Work-from-office in full force, home rent in tech zones sees 15-30% increase in Bengaluru | Bengaluru News - Times of India
- Russian missile hits Ukrainian apartment building, killing 1
- Russian missile hits Ukrainian apartment building; 1 killed
|Elvis Presley: From the Beginning...To the End (Collector's Edition)$12.77||Joan Wulff's Dynamics of Fly Casting: From Solid Basics to Advanced Techniques by Miracle Productions4.9★ / $22.63||Chicago's Western Suburbs: From Prairie Soil to Prairie Style$19.99||From the Earth to the Moon (Four Disc Collector's Edition)$45||Pro Wrestling's Ultimate Insiders, Vol. 4: Hardy Boys - From the Backyard to the Big Time$10.97||Clean Sweeps - A Grappler's Guide to Getting from the Guard to the Top Game4.7★ / check it now at Amazon||Who Will You Trust: How to Move Faith From Your Head to Your Heart5.0★ / $5.01||Running On Empty-and How To Overcome Job Stress$21.98||Anky's Music: From the Atlanta to Athens check it now at Amazon||Mr. Wilson's Kids: From East Cleveland to Beijing check it now at Amazon||Live Dead - The Grateful Dead in Concert (Downhill from Here, Ticket to New Year's, View from the Vault)4.6★ / $65.32||Grimm's Wooden Stepped Counting Blocks in Storage Tray - 100 Blocks from 1 cm to 10 cm High (2x2 Size)4.7★ / check it now at Amazon||Laser Ammo 9MSP-S Safety Pipe, SureStrike Short Barrel Rod for Barrels from 2.9" to 4.0". check it now at Amazon||Azules Women's Ponte Roma From Office Wear to Below Knee Pencil Skirt4.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon"$49||Elephant POOLITICAL Scratch Pad MADE FROM ELEPHANT POOP HOW'S THAT FOR HOPE?$19.99||Quotes from George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones Book Series 2015 Day-to-Day Boxed Calendar4.3★ / check it now at Amazon||How's Your Dog "Escort" Featherlite Nylon Pet Carrier Dog Tote (Carry on) - Lime Green, up to 18 lbs check it now at Amazon||Pajama Sam 3-pack: Lost & Found, No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside, You Are What You Eat From Your Head To Your Feet3.0★ / check it now at Amazon||The Arthur Fiedler Legacy: From Fabulous Broadway To Hollywood's Reel Thing, Vol. 4$72.98||From the Hub to the Heart: My Journey check it now at Amazon||The Comedy Bible: From Stand-up to Sitcom--The Comedy Writer's Ultimate "How To" Guide$16.89||How to Go from Jump Off to Girlfriend: A Woman's Guide to Keeping a Man3.0★ / check it now at Amazon||The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining: From Salad Forks to Sommeliers, How to Eat and Drink in Style Without Fear of Faux Pas$12.95||The Drummer's Bible: How to Play Every Drum Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco$25.49||From Wall Street to the Great Wall: How Investors Can Profit from China's Booming Economy$11.95||Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs$6.99||Tropical Depression: A surfer's journey from concrete jungle to empty shores$14.99||Selections From The Arabian Nights, Sir Richard Burton's famous translation of The Thousand Nights and a Night, with modernized check it now at Amazon||How's It Feel, Tough Guy?: From Prisoner of Pride to Prisoner of Hope check it now at Amazon|
From tech hub to empty husk: How S.F. building shows city’s latest cycle of boom to bust have 1687 words, post on www.sfchronicle.com at March 25, 2023. This is cached page on USA Posts. If you want remove this page, please contact us.