Yerba Buena: Part 2



It’s not exaggerating to say that Yerba Buena has one of San Francisco’s most exciting, dynamic real estate markets. The district’s many rebirths have left it with housing options tailor-made for the city’s upwardly mobile – and those who’ve already reached the top.

After decades spent as a mirror image to SoMa – transient-oriented housing mixed in among light industry and warehouses – and a long and tortuous lead-up to redevelopment, Yerba Buena began its latest (and ongoing) period of evolution in the 1980s. Early development again mirrored that of SoMa: one- and two-bedroom apartments, condominiums and lofts, the difference being that Yerba Buena’s builders favored large-scale projects, like the string of mid-rise residential buildings on the 700 and 800 blocks of Folsom, including 737 Folsom Street and Museum Parc (both built in 1988) and the Yerba Buena Lofts (built in 2001).

Along with the SoMa Square apartments on Third Street, these early projects established Yerba Buena as a lively, high-density urban neighborhood offering spacious (if not enormous) living spaces and, in some cases, private outdoor living spaces in mid- to high-range buildings. All had one thing in common: proximity to the Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens, landmarks that continue to act as the heart of the neighborhood.

Yerba Buena’s next growth period came on the heels of the 1990s economic explosion, bringing with it demand for different – read “high-end” – living. The first decade of the 21st century was an evolutionary time for Yerba Buena, as high-rise developers began to target the neighborhood. This time they built on the blocks closest to San Francisco’s Financial District, mixing full-service luxury residential towers like Blu (631 Folsom Street), the Paramount (680 Mission) and the industry-leading Millennium Towers (301 Mission, named one of the top 10 residential buildings in the World by Worth Magazine) with ultra-chic combo hotels/fractional ownership concerns like the St. Regis (125 Third Street) and the Four Seasons (757 Market Street). These buildings include lavish penthouse units and amenities like 24-hour doormen and 24-hour concierge service, on-site fitness centers, conference rooms, swimming pools and rooftop decks.

The last tower built during this wave was One Hawthorne, which began selling units in 2010. At the time it seemed that high-profile development in Yerba Buena – in all of San Francisco, in fact – was on indefinite hiatus due to the economic downturn. Instead, the economy roared back to life, and with it growth in Yerba Buena.

There are presently a number of large-scale residential and commercial projects either proposed, pending or under construction in Yerba Buena, including a combination condo high rise/Mexican Heritage Museum at 706 Mission Street, a new 15-story Hampton hotel at 942 Mission and a significant expansion of the Moscone Center.

Despite the upscale character of Yerba Buena’s latest wave of growth, the neighborhood is of late sharing its ultra-high-end crown to its neighbor to the east, South Beach. The latter features a collection of San Francisco’s most luxurious towers including the One Rincon Hill complex, the Metropolitan and the Infinity. Yerba Buena definitely has its share of significant skyscrapers but also a number of mid-level living options (a recent check of the MLS showed available Yerba Buena units ranging in asking price from $499,000 to $3.85 million), creating a neighborhood of varying scales, where residents do more than simply drive into a garage, take an elevator up 30 stories and stare out at the streets below. There are many ways to “do” Yerba Buena, with its central green space, its museums, its restaurants, shopping and lively workweek presence. It is a true city neighborhood.

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