South Beach: Part 2

southbeach2aSouth Beach is a district with many distinct personalities — ranging from its Financial District-adjacent hyper-urban vertical self to the quiet dignity of South Park and the shiny waterfront surrounding AT & T Park. It makes perfect sense that a neighborhood of such dimension would have an equally broad housing market, and South Beach does. While it lacks a single-family home option (common for a downtown neighborhood), South Beach checks almost every other housing box.

Are you just out of college, newly well-employed, looking for a studio or one-bedroom apartment in a buzz-worthy location? South Beach has you covered with large complexes like the South Beach Marina and, scattered throughout the district’s southern quadrant, a smattering of small, SoMa-like Edwardian buildings. Are you a wealthy empty-nester or international “citizen of the world” who desires a super-urban pied-à-terre perfectly situated to take advantage of one of the world’s most desirable cities? How about a sleek upper floor unit at a full-service luxury high-rise like the Infinity, the Metropolitan, the Watermark or One Rincon Hill?

Or maybe you’re a successful technology entrepreneur whose dream is a huge, cutting-edge living space showcasing modern design and views of leafy South Park; South Beach has those too, along with lofts in new and refurbished historic buildings, boutique condo buildings and sprawling, early-generation complexes like The Beacon and The Brannan, offering proximity to the waterfront, the ballpark and the growing King Street shopping and dining corridor. South Beach doesn’t have everything, but it does have something for almost everyone.

If that weren’t enough, South Beach is also growing faster than any San Francisco neighborhood outside of Mission Bay. Pause for a moment at the corner of Beale and Folsom Streets, in South Beach’s Rincon Hill section; to say that there is construction happening on all four corners is only a slight exaggeration. It’s happening on three, all in the shadow of South Beach’s landmark residential tower, One Rincon Hill. 50-story One Rincon stood alone, towering above warehouses and low-lying commercial buildings, for several years. Soon it will have neighbors of similar scale to its own.

However many new towers come to South Beach, don’t expect the neighborhood to ever become a “concrete canyon.” In 2005, the City of San Francisco updated its plan for Rincon Hill, calling for a series of towers, yes, but also for interspersed mid- and low-rise construction, creating enough space between high-rises to foster livability and to preserve natural views. The strategy, known as “Vancouverism,” after the well-planned Canadian city, was a response to earlier downtown San Francisco development, which more closely followed the Manhattan model. To put it in urban planning shorthand: “Vancouverism” triumphed over “Manhattanism.”

“Vancouverism” creates room for boutique condo buildings like newly-completed 14-unit 750 2nd Street, for smaller-scale, pedestrian-friendly commercial strips (the 2005 plan designates Folsom Street as one of these) and for existing warehouse buildings like the South End Historic District, in entirety, to co-exist with massive towers like One Rincon Hill. South Beach, already unique because of the housing diversity within its borders, is designed to stay that way.

Like neighboring Yerba Buena, South Beach tilts toward the high end of the real estate market. A recent check of the Multiple Listing Service revealed 32 active South Beach listings. Of those, 18 were priced above $1 million, with a third asking north of $2 million and a median asking price of $1.2 million. Four were lofts, priced in a range of $749,000 to $1.375 million. The rest were condominiums.

For those looking to rent in South Beach, be aware that neighborhood rents run between $500 and $1,000 higher than those in the rest of San Francisco. Expect to pay upwards of $3,000 per month for a one-bedroom unit in South Beach.

It’s not cheap but it is exciting, convenient and chic. 20 years ago, modern South Beach didn’t exist. Today it’s one of San Francisco’s most popular downtown neighborhoods.

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