The Transformation of the SoMa District

© John Martinez Pavliga

In 2009, the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District was created in an attempt to preserve the rich history of the buildings, neighborhoods and communities that lay north of San Francisco’s Market Street. It has not only kept developers from modifying or even eradicating key buildings that have shaped the city of San Francisco, but has also helped to prevent the process of gentrification, enabling middle and lower-class inhabitants to continue living in the city at reasonable rates. Although building projects north of Market Street are now heavily restricted, not all of San Francisco is off limits.

The San Francisco government had been planning a major transformation of the SoMa District up until the recession became too extreme to follow through with the original plans. The SoMa District was close to becoming home to many thousands of new residents who were to fill the handful of new residential high-rise towers planned for development. Government members even proposed an increase in the height limitations of buildings south of Market in preparation for the district’s transformation.

© Kevin Wong

Due to the recession, however, progress on new developments including the rebuilding of San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal and the construction of additional supertall residential towers like One Rincon Hill, 300 Spear Street and Millenium Tower has been put on pause. These projects would have permanently changed the skyline of San Francisco; they also would have had a significant impact on the way in which people live their everyday lives.

© Daniel Ramirez

However, the lifestyles of many residing in and around the SoMa District are already quickly changing. The warehouses previously owned by large Internet companies and startups prior to the dot-com crash are once again becoming highly sought after investments. In fact, there has been renewed interest in SoMa properties from high-profile technology companies like Google and Zynga, both of which will soon be taking control of large office buildings in the district.

© Allan Ferguson

The reason for the influx of tech companies can be attributed to several factors, including the growth in internet technology, the increased availability of housing in the SoMa district and the tax breaks that the city extends to tech companies in order to encourage those companies to choose San Francisco over other competing cities.

© Allan Ferguson

Regardless of why so many tech companies are choosing to extend their business to the SoMa District though, they are bringing with them jobs, business and demand for property. Although recovery from the recession will no doubt take time, the boost to the city’s real estate market from the increasing number of tech companies will likely be at least a small help to getting the SoMa transformation projects back on track.

Photographs: Flickr: John Martinez Pavliga, Kevin Wong, Daniel Ramirez, Allan Ferguson References: San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly

About this author
Cite: Allison Hyatt. "The Transformation of the SoMa District" 01 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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