Richard Florida: Silicon Valley Will Soon Be Centered in San Francisco

Continuing to chronicle what he sees as an 'urban migration' from suburban office parks, Richard Florida provides the Bay Area illustration of this movement, as he sees the center of Silicon Valley heading to San Francisco from Santa Clara County.

Richard Florida's Wall Street Journal piece on the urban tech migration, posted here on Sept. 4, "What's Driving High-Tech's Urban Love Affair?", details this phenomenon on a national and even international level. Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle 's Sunday "Insight" section, Florida, senior editor of The Atlantic, asks, "Is the Bay Area's innovative center of gravity shifting away from suburban Silicon Valley to urban San Francisco?"

"The answer is a qualified yes. The tech migration is not just a phenomenon of San Francisco - it's happening in New York's downtown Silicon Alley and East London's once rundown and raw Silicon Roundabout. This emerging model of "urban tech" just seems to fit downtown San Francisco especially well."

The Bay Area tech' migration is not only propelled by a preference for urban work environments by young technology workers, but, surprisingly, real estate prices.

"According to figures from real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield reported in June on, office space for tech companies runs $3.55 per square foot per month in San Francisco compared with

  • $5.78 in downtown Palo Alto,
  • $4.81 in the Palo Alto-Stanford Park area
  • $5.21 in Menlo Park."

"The city's urban center also is filled with easily repurposed and relatively inexpensive older warehouses and factory lofts, as well as industrial, commercial and other mixed-use buildings that companies can retrofit into the flexible, creative spaces to which this new breed of techies are drawn."

As if to emphasize the young work force and their urban gathering places, the column is accompanied by a fourteen-slide photo gallery featuring very happy workers congregating at bars and participating in recreation at San Francisco's South Park, a small, but centrally located public open space for tech companies and others in the surrounding neighborhood.

By contrast, Silicon Valley's main open space appears to be the massive parking lots and landscaping surrounding the ubiquitous research and development parks.

Florida's column does not touch on the skyrocketing apartment prices that have accompanied the technology companies movement.

Full Story: San Francisco's urban tech boom


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