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Proposal for New Pinterest HQ Derailed

| July 9, 2014
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The building at 2 Henry Adams St. in San Francisco's Showplace Square district. (Google Street View)

The building at 2 Henry Adams St. in San Francisco’s Showplace Square district. (Google Street View)

Tenants of a South of Market building that Pinterest has been eyeing for its headquarters say they’re relieved the proposal has been derailed.

Monday evening, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee tabled an ordinance that would have designated 2 Henry Adams St. as a historic landmark. That designation would have allowed owners to convert the building, now occupied by dozens of interior design industry tenants, to office space.

The building, part of the San Francisco Design Center and located in the Showplace Square district, is currently zoned PDR, for production, distribution and repair establishments. The zoning means it can’t be converted into office space.

“Now that we know this is a safely protected PDR building we can move on to getting back to our businesses again,” said Jim Gallagher, general manager at Garden Court Antiques, which faced relocation if Pinterest moved in.

The ordinance to designate 2 Henry Adams as a landmark was tabled after Supervisor Malia Cohen, its sponsor, said she opposed the displacement of long-term tenants and small businesses. She said she was also concerned the ordinance could touch off a wave of landmark applications around Showplace Square.

The building owner had already signed a deal with Pinterest to move into the four-story building, and property managers have begun efforts to persuade the building’s 77 tenants to relocate to nearby space.

As the San Francisco Chronicle’s J.K. Dineen reported:

While … Cohen said the Design Center building deserves landmark designation, she was uncomfortable with the property owner’s plans to move many longtime design businesses out. As the sponsor of the property’s landmark legislation, Cohen is the only supervisor who can revive it. She said she has no intention of doing so. …

… She said the legislation allowing landmarked property to convert to office space is meant as an economic incentive for property owners to do expensive seismic retrofits and renovation. But 2 Henry Adams has been “impeccably maintained through the downturn.”

“This isn’t in the spirit of the code or the landmark legislation,” she said. “We are not talking about one building, but 15.”

“Yesterday was about standing up for the little guy and gal,” Supervisor Malia Cohen said Tuesday. She added: “Although this is one isolated incident, the overall policy is what we need to began to address. It is important to the entire face of San Francisco.”

These PDR spaces support a large community of both blue- and white-collar workers, Cohen said. Fabricators, upholsterers and cabinet designers that make up the design community depend on spaces like those at 2 Henry Adams.

“It wasn’t just tenants. Part of the issue around the design center is that we are a community that is very interdependent,” said Jim Gallagher of Garden Court Antiques. “We are a part of the network.”

Bay West Development, the firm that manages the property, told the Chronicle it would continue to work on plans for the building:

After the vote, a spokesman for Bay West said the group was “disappointed the item was tabled” but that it would continue to seek a compromise. “We agree with them that what the Design District has always been about is finding a good mix of uses,” said spokesman Charlie Goodyear.

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Category: Economy, Politics

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