October 29, 2007
Night’s Week's Gathering: A Reader Driven Wrap Up (We Hope)
Considering the standing room only crowd, one might
expect appreciate a few more comments (and discussion) from those who were able to attend. So let's try this again…
Our end of the day thanks to everyone who was able to join us last
night week. We hope you found the discussion around SoMa’s emerging midtown interesting. And at the very least, we hope you had a good time.
Special thanks to our panelists for enduring the heat of the stage (both literally and figuratively):
Chip Conley, CEO and President, Joie de Vivre Hospitality
John Dunham, Developer and Future Resident, 55 Sheridan
Jim Haas, Coordinator of the Mayor's Civic Center Stakeholders Group
Daniel Hurtado, Executive Director, Central Market Community Benefit District
Sarah Karlinsky, Policy Director, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research
Eric Tao, Vice President, AGI Capital
Max Young, Proprietor, Mr. Smiths Bar and Lounge
And if you were able to attend, perhaps you'd be so kind as to comment with your thoughts/takeaways for those who were not. And if you "were not," perhaps we’ll catch you the next time. Regardless, and as always, thank you for plugging in.
First Published: October 29, 2007 2:50 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Although I was pretty disappointed in the 'snacks,' (I suppose the event had a bigger purpose than feeding me), I was really impressed with the discussion with the Joie de Vivre, SoMA Grand and Mayor's office guys. Found it extremely comforting and interesting that Joie de Vivre has purchased all those properties and think SoMA grand will attract quite a few business folk and/or [transplants] from cities like New York or Chicago. Forgot to ask about plans for parks in the area as there seem to be few to none. Anyone have info on that?
[Editor's Note: Joie de Vivre hasn't purchased, but is rather taking over the management of, those four hotels.]
Posted by: Stella at October 25, 2007 5:05 PM
Thanks for coordinating the event! I brought along my boyfriend who bought his loft at 7th and Howard and has lived there since 2003. If I can take some liberties, I'll share that he felt a bit skeptical about the positive spin for the neighborhood and "will believe when I see it."
Personally, I believe the idea that the new CBD feels compelled to make priority #1 to pay for its own police presence is a testament that there is something very wrong at the core of public safety in San Francisco (at least around the downtown area).
Back to the gathering format - great turnout, I thought. Good group of people showed up - met some nice folks. I was mostly interested in what was in the works for the neighborhood from private developers and from the planning dept. perspectives - would've been nice to have had a City person there (though the West SoMa meeting may have been occupying the appropriate person's time last evening). Good panel - though possibly too many and a little lack of focus, but I thought it worked well.
Good job Adam! :)
Posted by: Jamie at October 25, 2007 5:08 PM
Thank you for a very informative event, Socketsite. There seemed to be a fair amount of focus on safety in the area - it will be interesting to see if the CBD can pull off increasing police patrol and whether that will make a difference. Still, I have a lot of hope for the development in the area and Max's information about the new bars and restaurants that are coming to the area demonstrates to me that we're moving in the right direction.
It was also a pleasant surprise to not receive any sort of sales pitch.
Posted by: Mike at October 26, 2007 6:09 AM
First a quick thanks to Sockesite and the panel participants for taking the time and effort to organize the event. It was interesting and informative. I was most struck by the perception versus reality of safety in the area. My takeaway from the panel what that there is proportionally less serious crime in this area than many other parts of the city. Chip's statement that there have been no incidents involving Joie de Vivre properties in this area bodes well for future.
On the buying side, there seems like a lot of long term upside for the area. The usual progression is taking place....bars, galleries, restaurants...that leads to a turn around in the area.
Posted by: Recent Infinity Buyer at October 29, 2007 9:16 PM
Thank you, [SocketSite], for hosting. Very informative and positive event. The woman from Zip Realty posed a great question which I don't think the panel addressed as fully as it could have. It was something like (pardon my paraphrasing): "if I have a single woman client relocating here from the Midwest, how do I, or do I recommend she consider SOMA as a cost-effective alternative where there is (a perception of) so much crime?"
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to make the following comparison: SOMA is kind of like New Jersey. The perception of NJ by nonresidents, is overwhelmingly influenced the the NJ that you can see from the NJ Turnpike. That's the NJ that most nonresidents see--the NJ of power plants, petroleum refineries and their ilk. Ugly to look at and ugly to smell. Very similarly SOMA for most nonresidents, is the SOMA you see driving the corridor from the 6th St 280 off-ramp straight to Market St. as quickly as humanly possible. That's the peep show, brown bag liquor store and half-way house SOMA most non-residents consider "SOMA." And that SOMA is *not* for the single young woman from Iowa.
But as SOMA locals know, the landscape changes quickly for the better as you move away from 6th St. in either direction. Perhaps because of its low residential density, SOMA enjoys very much more of a neighborhood feel, people recognize each other and therefore share a sense of community--I would argue more so than other parts of the city. The owner of the auto mechanic shop at the end of our block (between 9th & 10th) is a veritable watchdog for our entire street.
The year before we started our project ('01), the building across the street was set on fire by crack squatters. Now it's a six unit apartment building. Our building was a single story abandoned paint warehouse. Now it's a brand new SFR. In '01, there were no specialty grocers; now there's not one, but two Whole Foods stores in the neighborhood. Those who attended the SF AIA 2007 Home Tours program know there's been an upsurge of high-design SFH investment throughout SOMA.
Last but not least, there's the Western SOMA Citizens Planning Task Force which has taken a public position that their goal is to formulate policy that will serve to protect the mixed use and diverse residential character of the Western SOMA district. One example of their sentiment and power is that they have voted to prohibit further "big box" retail such as Costco or Walmart in the neighborhood.
I look at that kind of investment, by both private and commercial concerns, at that kind of government support, and take great heart in the future of SOMA as both a residential and commercial (retail) neighborhood. And I think that the hypothetical relocating Midwestern single woman (and her realtor) would be foolish to not consider SOMA as an option.
Posted by: John Dunham at October 30, 2007 12:51 PM
Will there be another meeting? As a resident of the area, I'd like to attend. Mid-Market does have potential, but only by empowering entrepreneurial activity will we finally clean it up. It needs millions more in commercial investment, more police foot patrols and a lot more street cleaning. The most important thing it needs is the unleashing of the creativity of San Francisco entrepreneurs; to facilitate this, I propose a 5 year moratorium on all local taxes for retail, bars and clubs in the area so people will look twice at opening up in this area instead of other places. And for God's sake stop opening needle exchanges, soup kitchens, etc. There are enough already.
Posted by: Resident83 at October 30, 2007 3:50 PM
how about doing one of these in south beach editor?
Posted by: james at October 30, 2007 3:52 PM
I want to reiterate Joie de Vivre's point that crime happens even in the best of areas. I live in what is supposed to be one of the best, most affluent areas of the City and yet not too long ago, a man was shot 2 blocks from my home. There have been muggings galore. And walking my dog in the mornings, there are quite a few homeless people on Chestnut Street, Moscone and Ft. Mason parks. And quite frankly, I probably feel more safe walking in Mid-Market than in Cow Hollow because there are just more people around. My point is that crime is everywhere and anywhere and we should all just make sure we're careful.
Posted by: Anonymous at October 31, 2007 9:59 PM
I have a really hard time with the "there's less crime here because most people are too scared to walk the street at night" defense.... seems to me that once you fill this region with people, that's going to change very quickly. Maybe they are right and this are will improve dramatically, but when I hear a response like this that is so obviously a diversion from the reality, it makes me think that the whole thing is just 'realtor speak' (e.g. referring to a 200 sq ft basement as 'cozy').
I did enjoy the event a great deal though. It was nice meeting the person behind this wonderful site, Adam. I strongly considered the Soma Grand for awhile. But, I intentionally walked to and from the event (coming from the Financial District), and I just can't see past how scary and run down it is. Perhaps I just lack a vision for potential - I hope I'm proved wrong in a few years!
Posted by: phatty at November 2, 2007 1:11 PM
SOMA is moderately safe. When I lived there, my bike was stolen when locked to a parking meter in front of my office (in China Basin) and my wife's car window was smashed (so someone could steal an empty gym bag). Not major crimes, but plenty annoying. [Note: I lived by the Ballpark near Embarcadero, NOT near 6th street...]
My biggest problem was not crime but the lack of any kind of "neighborhood feel". Most stuff closed at sundown (but perhaps it's improved since I left) and on the weekend it felt like a ghost town. That is true of most downtown neighborhoods in cities though. I'm sure it's changing a lot down there but it's still not for everybody.
Posted by: "Dave" at November 2, 2007 1:58 PM
"And that SOMA is *not* for the single young woman from Iowa."
I happen to be a single young (mid 20's) woman who originally hales from Iowa and lived in SOMA for my first 2 months in The City while trying to find a more permanent place. And you know what, I actually felt pretty safe in SOMA; even at night.
Yeah, it's pretty gritty and can be a ghost town on the weekends but I get heckled and harassed more in the Haight by the street punks then I ever did in SOMA.
Posted by: DesignBot at November 5, 2007 11:07 AM