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Why San Francisco's Mid-Market Is Going To Be Different From The Rest Of The City

Mid-Market used to be a place tourists were told to avoid. Buildings were abandoned and the area was filled with blight. Within the last few years, the area has transformed, filling with tech companies and new housing developments.

Emerald Fund chairman Oz Erickson, Build Inc. president and partner Lou Vasquez, Tidewater Capital managing principal Craig Young, Group I founder Joy Ou and Newmark Cornish & Carey executive managing director Michael Taquino

For Group I founder Joy Ou, who spoke during a recent Bisnow event in San Francisco, Mid-Market presents a unique district that will be filled with retail from 6x6, housing from multiple developers, hotels and office space. The area between Fifth and Eighth streets with all its historical buildings, where there has been a lot of new development, is fast becoming a vital part of the city.

“It will be a really dynamic 24/7 place where people work and live and shop along this three-block section,” she said. “[Mid-Market] will be a very interesting neighborhood that is different than the rest of the city.”

Her company is developing a mixed-use project with 240 condos and a 242-room hotel at 950 Market. Several developers have been pushing for more projects in this corridor.

Group I founder Joy Ou and Newmark Cornish & Carey executive managing director Michael Taquino

More than 6,000 units are projected for Mid-Market, a high-density submarket of South of Market, Tenderloin and Civic Center that spans from Fifth Street to Van Ness. Mid-Market projects make up about 10% of the 68,000 units of San Francisco’s pipeline housing, according to Newmark Cornish & Carey executive managing director Michael Taquino, who moderated a panel of developers at the event. In Mid-Market, 2,400 units have been proposed, 3,400 units have been approved and 651 are under construction.

Mid-Market is one of the more densely populated sections of San Francisco. In the Civic Center area of Mid-Market, population per square mile is 43,500 while the population per square mile in the South of Market area is 22,942, according to data from Realtors Property Resource. Population has grown 8.4% since 2010 in the Civic Center area, while population has grown 13.5% in the South of Market area. While demographics are skewed to young professionals, there is a healthy mix of fixed-income retirees and small families.

Emerald Fund director of construction Shane Harris and chairman Oz Erickson with The Mark Co. senior director of developments Matt Dietsch

Emerald Fund jumped on the Mid-Market bandwagon after NEMA delivered 700 units in Mid-Market and was very successful, according to Emerald Fund chairman Oz Erickson. Emerald Fund’s 100 Van Ness project, which delivered in 2015, leased up within 12 months. The developer has done about 600 units in Mid-Market and is in the middle of building another 400 units.

Erickson said the transit in this area is remarkable and it takes six minutes to get from Van Ness to Downtown San Francisco. What also helped is the 2011 tax break that prompted more tech firms to come to Mid-Market. He said 4,400 to 4,600 units of housing were built in the neighborhood following this legislation.

Tidewater Capital managing principal Craig Young

Developers have found success with their projects through community engagement.

While waiting for approval to develop 1028 Market St., Tidewater Capital turned the existing building into a pop-up food hall that brought together artists and nonprofits.

“It was clear that doing something to try and bring people together to build a community, to give people a place to interact, to develop ties and a sense of place was critical to that first step toward that evolution [of this project],” Tidewater Capital managing principal Craig Young said. “It turned out to be a really phenomenal community engagement tool."

He said the concept led several nonprofits and artists to become great supporters of the project, which will bring 200 units of housing between Sixth and Seventh streets.

Build Inc. president and partner Lou Vasquez and Tidewater Capital managing principal Craig Young

Build Inc. president and partner Lou Vasquez said his company’s 300-unit project at Oak and Market streets did something similar. The developer had an almost empty 40K SF building, and while waiting for entitlements, gave away space to a nonprofit arts organization. He said having people in the building and on the street immediately changed that corner for the better.

Mid-Market’s revitalization has been a slow process, Vasquez said. The area used to be bad from Third Street to Church and now the last remaining stretch with room for improvement is between Seventh and 10th streets. With two big hotels under construction on Seventh, the neighborhood's transformation is nearing completion.

“What you’re seeing is filling in and this ultimate reconnection of Market Street that was really disrupted by construction of BART in the late ’60s,” he said. “This re-creation is finally going to fill that in.”