News & Research Archive

New Innovation Center vs. the Eastern Neighborhood Zoning District

Feb 23, 2015

San Francisco's Planning Commission is pending approval on a 427,000-square-foot "innovation campus" to be built at 100 Hooper Street. The campus will include three four-story buildings, rising up to 58-feet in height on the site, which is currently home to San Francisco Mini Storage and truck rental business.

This new campus will include 285,000 square feet of new office space, 135,000 square feet of space for Production, Distribution and Repair (PDR), and a series of outdoor courtyards.

The paperwork for the building permits has already been filed. If the $60 million development is approved, the 100 Hooper Street campus should be ready by 2018. Ground-floor restaurant and retail spaces, and parking for around 100 cars, are part of the plans as well.

According to, Rockwood Capital paid roughly $4 million an acre for the Showplace Square site, which is bounded by Channel Street to the north, 7th street to the east, Hooper Street to the south, and the California College of the Arts (CCA) campus to the west."

This is big news and will test the city's resolve to meet the need for more tech- oriented space and continue to promote its growth in the city, against protecting the core elements of the Eastern Neighborhood Zoning district.

It has now been several years that the Eastern Zoning changes have taken effect. To date, there have still been no new production and development projects. The intent of the zoning changes was to protect our industrial sector and blue-collar jobs and to also slow down the gentrification of our city.

The reality is that these zoning changes haven't worked and a new solution needs to be seriously discussed. San Francisco is becoming and in some respects already is an innovation capital. The days of manufacturing and production are over. You can downzone properties in an attempt to force continued use for PDR (production distribution and repair), but the reality is it's simply too expensive to do that kind of business within our limited borders of 49 square miles.

When former supervisor Chris Daly led the charge to create these zoning changes, he was committed to preserving Potrero Hill and the Mission to prevent the districts from losing its blue-collar base, but to also slow down growth that would upscale these neighborhoods.

I had asked Chris Daly as he was promoting these restrictions, "What do you think would happen if a building's owner could not rent their property out for enough rent in order to support its value, and therefore left their buildings vacant?" Chris Daly responded, "I would rather leave buildings vacant for thirty years then have these neighborhoods gentrify".

I didn't understand then, and I still don't. Would vacant buildings really be better than continuing to grow and evolve a the neighborhood?

Anti-gentrification is a progressive cause to save financially viable people from losing their lease on a rental property in an already gentrified neighborhood. In the best of times, it's hard to envision a lot of people shaking the rafters for this one. However, in our national economy sputtering out of a historic recession and a catastrophic housing bust, it will be quite challenging to convince the masses that vibrant urban neighborhoods in the city shouldn't experience population churn, that current residents should try to keep out of new ones, and that property ownership in San Francisco isn't a good idea.

New Innovation Center


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 30 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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