Landmark designation doesn’t ensure preservation

Landmark designation doesn’t ensure preservation

By Andrew S. Ross : sfgate – excerpt

arly next month, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission will hold a hearing on designating the 330,000-square-foot Showplace, at the intersection of the Potrero district and South of Market, a historic landmark.

Sounds good at first glance. Landmark = protection, right?

Not in this case. A historic designation in this industrial neighborhood means developers could turn the Showplace at 2 Henry Adams St., a showcase for interior design since the 1970s, into another home for tech offices…

A landmark designation would clear the way for its conversion,” real estate blog SocketSite noted when the proposal surfaced several months ago. “Great move by the owners,” another commenter on the blog said. “Perhaps this will presage a wave of interest in historical preservation on the part of landlords.” Especially in the same area.

How so? The building, which sold in 2006 for $125 million, is zoned for production, distribution and repair. A landmark designation opens the building to office development. As a result, existing tenants – home furnishings and textile firms that occupy about two-thirds of the design center – face the prospect of being priced out of the building they have long called home.

As SocketSite pointed out, an office development “flies in the face of a key objective of (the) Showplace Square/Potrero Hill Area Plan which seeks to preserve the supply of (production, distribution and repair) space within the district.”

Should the Historic Preservation Commission recommend the designation at the hearing scheduled for March 5, the Board of Supervisors will ultimately make the final call.

Despite its initial approval, the commission “does have some questions about the change of use,” said Timothy Frye, preservation coordinator at the commission. Frye said he’s heard about fears from tenants about “displacement.”…

Meanwhile, the owners of the Showplace, Galleria and Garden Court petitioned the city’s Assessment Appeals Board last week for reduced taxes, citing a “decline in value.”

Cool it: Things getting a trifle frothy in tech-land? Local members of the 0.1 percent seem to think so.

A majority (60 percent) of San Francisco high-net-worth investors say the Bay Area “is investing more into technology than the asset is worth,” according to a survey from Morgan Stanley… (more)



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