The mid-Market Street area has long been troubled by empty storefronts and homelessness, especially the few blocks directly east of San Francisco’s vacant SF Mart building.
But Thursday afternoon, construction workers on the building’s three upper floors were busy installing work stations, filling in walls and ceilings, and building out a sunny rooftop deck.
Sometime in July, the first of several hundred Twitter employees are expected to begin moving into the building. And as the social-media giant prepares to open its sprawling new headquarters, Mayor Ed Lee toured the building, which is undergoing a complete renovation — one The City hopes will extend throughout the run-down neighborhood.
Lee said the Twitter property was part of about 465,000 square feet of office space newly leased out on Market Street as part of his administration’s plan to revitalize the area. The project’s lead developer expressed optimism Thursday about that prospect.
“This project has just been a ton of fun, because it’s a cool building, that we, along with our tenants and Twitter, had the chance to really turn into something really interesting and really wonderful,” said developer Doug Shorenstein, whose company bought the historic SF Mart building last year.
The mayor used the occasion to note the ongoing “delicate but very important conversation” about the future of The City’s payroll tax for businesses. Lee said he was in favor of changing the policy “so that it isn’t job-punishing.” Twitter received a high-profile payroll-tax exemption for new hires for moving to the mid-Market area.
“I think it’s an incredible reflection of the turnaround that we have, of the investor confidence that we are presenting, when we are talking to these companies to ask them to start here and stay and grow with us,” Lee said.
Twitter’s move has already brought interest from other businesses and developers to the neighborhood, Lee said.
“I think you’re seeing a total resurgence,” he said. “It’s exciting to be here to see this milestone.”
Twitter Chief Financial Officer Ali Rowghani said Twitter is beginning to connect its employees with Tenderloin community service groups for volunteer opportunities.
Included in The City’s deal with Twitter and Shorenstein were promises to improve transit and add dedicated bike lanes in the area, and locate a police substation on Sixth Street.
“This place will not only be safe, it will be exciting and vibrant,” Lee said.
Sources: Shorenstein Properties, Twitter