Zephyr Announces new Flagship Office

Hopefully by now it’s no secret that Zephyr is our brokerage of record. Both Britton and I have been there since Day 1 of our respective real estate careers, and we have no intentions of going anywhere in the near future. We started at at our SOMA office (which is no more, don’t blame us) and when the recession ate that office up we moved to Zephyr’s founding location at 4200 17th St.

I won’t tell you why we picked the founding office when we moved almost six or seven years ago, but I will say it wasn’t for the facilities. And it probably had something to do with convenience. Victorians often don’t make ideal layouts for living, and the layout for an office space can be even crueler. The meeting rooms often felt closer to interrogation facilities, and the furniture and color scheme, well… let’s just say WE ARE SO EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW ZEPHYR FLAGSHIP OFFICE SPACE.

The new Zephyr flagship office will combine Zephyr’s current two upper market offices (2500 Market St. and 43200 17th St.) into one space. The offices will be in the former Tower Records space, and will have a street level lobby as well as elevator access for clients and agents.

While we have no intention of actually paying for desk space at the new Zephyr flagship office, we look forward to meeting our clients in what promises to be incredible space. We think Zephyr has the best agents and sales managers in the business, not to mention the best clients! We are thrilled to see Zephyr finally find new office space in the upper market area for a facility upgrade that will be as beautiful as our clients are smart!

We’d love to hear your thoughts here on our blog, on our facebook page, or on the twitter!

Whole Foods on Market Street opening November 6

This morning, like the grocery geeks we are, Matt and I took a tour of San Francisco’s newest Whole Foods, opening next Wednesday, November 6. It’s located at 2001 Market Street @ Dolores, the site of the former S&C Ford dealership.

Photo tour (click on any image for a larger version/slideshow):

A few nuts & bolts first…

Number of Whole Foods Markets in San Francisco: 7

Approximate square footage of new store: 27,000

Number of parking spaces for the store: 63

Number of those that are for electric cars: 2

Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm every day

Official opening day/bread-breaking: November 6, 9:45 am (They don’t cut ribbons, they break bread. Cool, huh?)

While the Safeway across the street continues quaking in its staid corporate boots, I’ll describe some of the unique features of the new Whole Foods.

Just to the left of the main entrance is a two-seat shoeshine stand, operated by a local vendor called A Shine & Co., adjacent to a wall of what our tour guide called “man products.” By which she meant “men’s grooming stuff,” like shaving gear and skin care. The shoe shine stand will be open daily until about 6:00 pm.

Now for some unique-to-this-store food items. Oh, Whole Foods, you had me at sausage on a stick, made in house and available in the grab-and-go section. There will also be locally made gelato with flavors like Blue Bottle Coffee (Ok, you had me at sausage on a stick AND Blue Bottle Coffee gelato). The bakery will put out mini foccacia in a variety of flavors daily.

Every Whole Foods has a hot bar, but this one amps it up with an entire section of the hot bar with all Paleo foods. If you’re throwing a cheese tasting party and you need 250 kinds of cheese from around the world, they’ve got you covered. They’ll also sell honeycomb from Steve’s Bees in Orinda and tell those of us who are unfamiliar with honeycomb how to pair it with cheese. Who knew?

Now I’ve got to bust on Whole Foods a little bit for a cake with a big ol’ carbon footprint. They’re selling cakes called Baum cakes and they’re flying them in from Denver. DENVER. That’s far away from San Francisco, even though a layer cake cooked in a rotisserie sounds really damn cool.

Castro Street Design Open House

SF Planning has been hard at work on an updated plan for Castro Street between Market and 19th St.

Castro Street Design. Source: SF Planning Dept.

Castro Street Design. Source: SF Planning Dept.

If you aren’t familiar with the proces so far, last fall the development of a draft conceptual design informed by community input and staff analysis started. In January and February of this year there were public workshops to get feedback from community members, neighbors, and local merchants on the draft design.

Based on that community input, SF planning went back to the drafting boards, and is ready to present their final conceptual design for the street.

Coming up on this Thursday, May 14 from 7:00 – 9:00pm the SF planning department will host a public open house at the Market and Noe center (2278 Market St. between Noe and Sanchez) to get feedback on the final conceptual design for Castro Street.

While I’m looking forward to the details of this proposal, the draft concept (6MB, pdf file) is big on increasing pedestrian flow and traffic calming. While a variety of solutions are proposed, the net result seems to be wider sidewalks for better pedestrian circulation, sidewalk bulb-outs at 18th and Castro, and the potential addition of several “mini-parks” that highlight various neighborhood locations of historic note.

Generally speaking, I’m all in for the proposed changes. The Castro neighborhood is an incredibly popular pedestrian destination, particularly with tourists, and I fully support almost any proposal that will make The Castro a more walkable location, particularly at the very busy intersections of Market and Castro and Castro and 18th Streets.

How would you like to see the Castro neighborhood change? What are your traffic calming ideas? How would you highlight neighborhood locations of historic note? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to show up at the community open house this Thursday!

What you need to know about District 5 Single Family Home Sales in 2012

The parade of 2012 real estate market statistics continues. Last week we started off with an overview of the 2012 San Francisco market, and last week we looked at home sales in northwest San Francisco, and Zephyr 2012 market share. Today I’m going to skip ahead a few neighborhoods from District 1 to District 5, which is the central part of San Francisco and includes the following neighborhoods/mls-subdistricts:

  • Glen Park
  • Haight Ashbury
  • Noe Valley
  • Twin Peaks
  • Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights
  • Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights
  • Corona Heights
  • Clarendon Heights
  • Duboce Triangle
  • Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights (aka Liberty Hill)
  • Mission Dolores

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The chart above shows the median days on market for single family homes in District 5, broken out by neighborhood. As you can see, median days on market was down, sometimes substantially so… with Mission Dolores, Clarendon Heights, and Eureka Valley (Castro) being exceptional examples of how competitive 2012 was if you were a buyer.chart_4 (3)
The chart above looks at the number of single family homes sold by neighborhood in 2012. It is interesting for a couple reasons – it does a pretty good job of showing what neighborhoods in district 5 have single family homes (when we compare this with condos in the coming days it will give you a good idea of the types of housing that predominate any given neighborhood). Even though the number of sales was either up or slightly down year over year, we still saw a decrease in days on market, which is exactly what we would expect when demand exceeds supply.
chart_5 (6)

Finally, the chart above shows the median sales price of a single family home in each of the district 5 neighborhoods. It’s no surprise that Clarendon Heights led the way with the most expensive median sales price, with the 2012 price being up both year over year and compared to 2009. Another thing to note is that some neighborhoods (like Twin Peaks) have very few single family homes, so small sample sets can lead to some erroneous conclusions… for example, that Twin Peaks prices are plummeting. I may try and get a post in this week that compares 2011 and 2012 single family home sales in Twin Peaks, to give you an idea of how small data sets lead to graphs like the above.

Happy Tuesday, I’m out the door for broker’s tour. I hope you have a great day!

Castro Market Stats

I need a new cliche. I’ve blogged in the past about the different types of averages. And I’ve also blogged about apples and oranges and whether or not price per square feet is a meaningful metric in San Francisco real estate. And I had planned to sit down today and write a quick market update about the Castro neighborhood. But something happened on the way to finishing that blog post… which is mainly that the numbers were so skewed I wanted to take a moment and talk about that instead.

As you can see from the chart above (click for a larger image if you are having a hard time reading it), I’ve plotted out the November 2011 and November 2012 sales for district 5k in San Francisco, formally known as Eureka Valley/Castro. Why Eureka Valley? Read why Eureka Valley… I’ve charted out both median and average sizes, list prices, sales prices, and days on market (DOM). I’ve done this both in absolute amounts, and also calculated the corresponding price per square foot calculations in the columns for median list price, average list price, median sales price, and average sales price.

About the only useful comparison we can use this data for (IMHO) is in comparing the number of sales. And no surprise, we’ve had tight inventory all year so sales are down from 22 to 14. However, the average and median square footages that sold in November of 2011 are substantially different from those that sold in 2012. Which means that the data really isn’t useful to tell us anything about the neighborhood market in general. These market stats are also for all residential property types (single family homes, condos, TICs, and 2-4 unit buildings), so a skew in the mix of property types could also easily skew the data in one direction or the other, presenting a false conclusion for the other market types.

Since the numbers are relatively low (22 and 14, respectively), I’ve actually pulled the reports that show the individual properties that make up these two data points in time. However, it is a violation of rules to present that much sold data on the internet without having a client relationship, so I can’t just post the reports (odd, I know… but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax). However, if you are interested in them, feel free to email or leave a comment and I can share that information with you.

Goodbye Ford, Hello Whole Foods

It’s finally happening! After years of planning, waiting, hoping, and dreaming, the former site of the Ford dealership on Market @ Dolores is finally being demolished. And what will rise in its place? Not a new Ford dealer, but instead a food dealer. To be more specific, a Whole Foods.

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As you can see from the photos above, demolition is well under way and in a few years shoppers in the neighborhood will no longer have to endure the stale hell that is the Safeway on Market street. Instead, they’ll be able to fill their locally-sourced sustainably-farmed hemp grocery bags with all sorts of organic fruits and vegetables from the local foodshed. Or Cheerios, because believe it or not you can actually buy Cheerios at Whole Foods!

As you may know from my stalking of The Madrone I’m a big fan of demolition and construction photos. I’ll try to get by the site on a regular basis (given its central location, how could I not go by on a regular basis?) and keep a running update with new photos and movies as the months go by.

What do you think of the building? Is it a location that you’d be willing to live? Are you “meh” about the condos but happy about the grocery store? Will the presence of the Whole Foods do serious damage to Safeway’s business? Will we gain one grocery store on the south side of Market street only to lose the other one on the north side of the street? (In my fantasy world , Safeway closes and Trader Joe’s takes over their location.)

Regardless of your feelings about the Whole Foods condoplex being built, I have to say I’m glad to see that the empty site is finally an active construction site. In the long run, I think it is a great addition to the neighborhood and can’t wait to see it grow.


Joe 1, Fire 0

I’m pretty sure most of you don’t visit this site for fashion or style advice. Or, for your sake at least, I hope you don’t visit for style and fashion advice. Each year when my homosexual license is up for renewal I fail the “current designers” and “fashionable trends” parts of the test, but I have such an extensive collection of Madonna albums and dance mixes that my fashion stupidity doesn’t doom me from tribal exile.

Why should you care? Even though I’m fashion and style challenged, I manage to look decent thanks to a consistently great haircut. Which is why I’m so happy to announce that Joe’s Barbershop in the Castro is re-opening this weekend. They were closed because of a pretty serious fire, but all has been repaired and Joe and his amazing crew of barbers will be back in the shop starting today (but officially tomorrow). So for those of you who are dying to know (but afraid to ask) about where I get my awesome haircut, now you know.

The return of Joe's Barbershop

In addition to being a client of Joe’s, Joe and his partner – the amazingly talented writer DogPoet – are clients of mine.

And if you think buying a house and getting financing in the current market is a challenge, just contemplate purchasing a home when your business is on fire. But we got it done, because that’s how we roll around here. And on what may, or may not be, a related note – Prominent Escrow is the most incompetent and unprofessional escrow company I’ve ever dealt with and I’d urge you to avoid them if at all possible. But I’m not quite ready to put that story into print, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Anyway, back to the important point: Joe’s Barbershop is back, and starting today (but officially Saturday) you can get an awesome haircut at a neighborhood institution. So stop by, get a great haircut, and give Joe and all the barbers a high-five. They’ve earned it!

Joe’s barbershop is located at 2150 Market St. between Church and Castro, on the north side of the street. Now you really don’t have an excuse not to go!

The Story behind Storrie Street Park

Storrie Street is a one-block street that runs between Market St. and 18th St. in the Castro neighborhood.  While it isn’t a mini-park or a parklet, the south-east side of Storrie street is open space that for years was nothing more than overgrown shrubbery that served as a convenient (if unsightly) dumping spot for garbage and debris.

Area neighbors worked with the San Francisco Parks Alliance to transform the overgrown plants into an enjoyable and attractive “street park” that is a pleasure to walk through and spend a little time at. The description of the street park from their website is a great description:

This plot of land was formerly a public eye sore, mainly a place for dumping trash rather than any kind of community space. However, now converted to a Street Park, the area has been reclaimed by local residents and is quickly becoming a beautiful garden greenway. Still in the process of implementation, the Storrie Greenway will soon have a dog walking area and host educational tours and garden visits. The greenway is providing habitat for endangered butterflies like the Mission Blue Butterfly by including local flower species and reducing water and energy use by incorporating drought-tolerant plants and recycling materials such as bark mulch for weed abatement. Features planned for the site include improved lighting, seating and a wall mural.

Storrie street is a quirky little street, and while I’m not sure how either the street or the open-space (street park? garden greenway? street greenway?) came to be, it is a delight to see how beautiful the land has become. I wouldn’t recommend it as a meditation spot, you can hear plenty of traffic from both Market and 18th streets, but it is a delightful and unexpected surprise to stumble upon when you are walking through the neighborhood.

If you happen to know more about how Storrie Street came to be, please leave a comment or get in touch, I’d love to know more!

Storrie Street Park/Storrie Greenway Photos:
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31 Years Later…

Update, October 1, 2012: Please visit 2299 Market St. – Icon SF condos for a construction update.

It’s been a big hole in the ground for a very, very, very long time. 2299 Market St. was once home to the Trinity Methodist Church, but it was destroyed by fire in 1981. More than 30 years later, the replacement building is finally arriving. Construction has begun on the development that will include 18 residential homes (all market rate, BMRs to be built off site) over roughly 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail. According to the planning department’s July 2010 discretionary review analysis, the mix of home sizes will consist of eight (8) one-bedroom homes, nine (9) two-bedroom homes, and one (1) three-bedroom home.

2299 Market St. – January 2012

2299 Market: Someday Soon?

At one point, the renderings done by the project architect, ib+a architecture, had an Apple logo on the ground floor retail space, setting the intertubes abuzz with gossip of a possible Apple Store at the location. The fruity giant to the south never confirmed nor denied such speculation, but more recent renderings have removed all such hints… The folks at ib+a have done plenty of other projects in San Francisco, with 555 4th St. (The Palms) being one of the larger projects that comes to mind, but their 1600 Webster project is much closer in size to this development.

As you can see from the above photos, a large hole in the ground (once the seasonal home of Delancey’s Christmas Tree sales) will be replaced with a five story building, with basement parking for 18 spots (achieved in part with a mechanical auto stacker, according to the architect’s website). The garage entrance will be on 16th street, next to Starbelly.

No word on when these will be completed, but if you feel like it you can track the progress of the building permits for 2299 Market St. online (the project has been in planning for years, the permits were finally issued in September of 2011).

The project developer is Angus McCarthy, who has to be happy that after years of negotiations with neighbors and neighborhood groups the shovels have finally hit the dirt at 2299 Market St.