Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Polk Salad Annie

The old Royal Ground coffee on Polk near Sacramento, out west of the Academy District, is now Moka Coffee.  It's like a microcosm of what's happening to the rest of San Francisco.  A sorta quirky, sometimes skeevy but inexpensive and unpretentious hangout for the locals has been turned into a somewhat sterile, uncomfortable retail outlet for pretentious prats who ride the Google bus to work.

God, did I just say that?  I usually welcome a degree of gentrification - hey, it keeps people employed and beats the alternative - but I'm worried the nature and magnitude of the gentrification we're seeing isn't helping the locals, it's destroying them.

I'm also worried it's based on an unsustainable real estate and internet/cloud/mobile bubble that's going to burst, leaving a lot of shuttered storefronts, overpriced unoccupied condos and locals even worse off than they were before...

Unreal Estate, II

Spent some time wandering the 'hood and came upon an open house at 989 Sutter - you can check out the listing at the link (there's even a video!).  That plot was a dirt lot not too long ago, but now it's 3 condos - one two-bedroom unit on the 2nd floor, and two four bedroom, three level townhome-style condos on the top floors, complete with rooftop decks.

I decided to check them out in spite of the eye-popping prices, a cool million for the 2-bedroom unit (no way, too dark inside for that kind of money) and almost $1.8 million (each!) for the townhome style units.  I got tired of the stairs inside of each unit after about 3 minutes - the living area is on the top floor, with bedrooms below - so I can't imagine spending that kind of money on such a tedious layout, but at least they were bright (if cramped).  Each unit does have its own teeny private elevator, but that seems like a pending maintenance nightmare for the owners, and I'd have nightmares of getting stuck inside the tiny things.

I couldn't help but think the spaces would have been better utilized (and better-lit, although the townhome-style units were pretty sunny) as full-floor open flats - the ceilings were quite high - that the owners could divide with furniture and such however they saw fit.  The rooftop decks of the townhome units had nice views but were small.  The 2nd floor unit had a huge deck with no real view, but it was the most usable space being right off the kitchen.

Who the heck is buying these things?  Dot com fools with more money than brains?  One of the units is apparently already in escrow, which just astounds me.  According to a city planner friend of mine something like 100,000 new units are in the pipeline ready to go online within the next couple of years.  That's a ton of money about to pour into the city.  A lot of that is south of Market, in China Basin, Mission Bay and the Dogpatch, but there's plenty of development up this way and along the Market Street corridor.  It'll be interesting to see what impact it's going to have on the Tenderloin and the Academy District.  I'm concerned it's going to become too expensive for anyone without a trust fund to survive in the city much longer...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Unreal Estate

Curbed SF is highlighting a couple of cheap apartments on the southern edge of the Academy District, a pair of studios, one at $1,500 a month and another at $1,325 a month.  That would have netted you a one bedroom up on Nob Hill when I moved here in 1995.  With real estate prices out of control in the city, how much longer will students even be able to afford to attend college inside city limits?  Folks with good-paying full-time jobs are being priced out of this market.

Shooting a little more traffic Curbed's way, they also have an article about the spendy boutique condo building going up at Van Ness & Washington (forget about these million dollar pads lowering rents in the area), as well as the California Pacific Medical Center Cathedral Hill development out past the western edge of the Academy District going before the Planning Commission.  This is the old Cathedral Hill Hotel they purchased and plan to demolish to make way for a new hospital on Van Ness, across from Mel's and Tommy's Joint.

If you think rents are insane now, wait 'till a high-end hospital drops onto the edge of the 'hood...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Welcome to The Academy District

A San Francisco-based blog for residents of the neighborhood probably best known as The Tendernob.  Having lived in the hood for almost a decade in the '90s, I was surprised upon my return in 2009 to find the area had been completely overtaken by the Academy of Art and its many students, so I rechristened it "The Academy District" (with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

Realtors are welcome to utilize the moniker, for a small fee...