SoMa Real Estate

Despite its reputation as the epicenter of the 1990s loft universe, the South of Market neighborhood offers an impressive variety of living options – with more to come. Construction is brisk at the neighborhood’s western and northern edges, adding a slew of impressive high-rise buildings to what so far has been a low- and mid-rise neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean SoMa’s fate is to be overrun by towers like neighboring Yerba Buena. Living in SoMa can mean almost anything.

Back in its post-earthquake “South of the Slot” days, SoMa was defined by low-cost, simple housing like SROs and multi-unit Edwardian buildings, along with commercial structures — warehouses and small factories. The neighborhood was this way for decades, until long-delayed redevelopment began in the 1980s. With it came the familiar SoMa condo and loft buildings, entry-level alternatives that in spirit paid homage to the neighborhood’s democratic past. These one- and two-bedroom units remain a viable option for new homebuyers, though they now fetch anywhere from $550,000 to $1 million on the open market.

A “SoMa loft” can mean a number of things. Some are converted original warehouses; others were built in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Some have an open living area and an upstairs sleeping loft, less than 1,000 total square feet of space and one bathroom; others can have as much as 5,000 square feet of interior space (like the converted warehouse at 721 Tehama Street, which sold in late February for $3.1 million), multiple bedrooms, three or more living levels, parking, outdoor space… “loft” has a flexible definition.

Likewise can SoMa’s condos – added to the neighborhood during the 1990s and 2000s – be many things. Some are spartan; others are luxurious. Some share space on major streets with warehouses, lofts and factories; others nestle into SoMa’s quiet side streets. Some were designed by noted local architects like Stanley Saitowitz. Most have one, two or three bedrooms but some are studios.

SoMa’s latest building spree will change the neighborhood, if only because the new buildings are so different than those already extant. As usual, SoMa continues to push the boundaries of San Francisco housing – if there’s a new trend, you can bet it’s happening in SoMa.

Interested in micro-apartments? Builder Patrick Kennedy is at the forefront of the sub-400 square-foot apartment trend. He chose SoMa for two projects, 23 295 square-foot studios at 38 Harriet Street and 1321 Mission, which when complete will offer 120 (out of 160 total) micro-units. 80 of these small living spaces and all of 38 Harriet (not originally planned but how it turned out) will be set aside for student housing.

What if your tastes tend more toward luxury high-rise leasing? For you, the “new” SoMa offers a number of under-construction options, most clustered along the reborn Mid-Market area. This deep roster includes the rebuilt Trinity Plaza complex (when completed, approximately 1,900 living units in four towers), NEMA (700 apartments at 1401 Market), 1400 Mission, which offers 190 below-market-rate units and 1415 Mission (121 studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments and street-level retail).

These monster complexes are the highest-profile projects presently under construction in SoMa but they are not the neighborhood’s only new developments. Ava (55 Ninth Street) and Mosso (900 Folsom) are two other splashy new neighborhood arrivals. Nor are they its first luxury high-rises. That title was claimed by the SOMA Grand in 2008.

All of this activity makes it clear that SoMa has left its “skid row” persona far in the rearview. It’s still a place where entry-level buyers and renters can find options, either with existing or new (all of the new developments include BMR units; two of them, 1400 Mission and the Rene Casenave Apartments, at 530 Folsom, are 100 percent BMR or supportive) housing, but its latest wave of construction makes very clear that SoMa is poised to join neighboring Yerba Buena as a preferred address for San Francisco movers and shakers as well.

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