Will S.F. Benefit from Dot-Com Deja Vu?

Yosh Asato compares the current dot-com and housing boom around South of Market (SoMA), the heart of San Francisco's tech industry, to previous booms that resulted in inevitable crashes. Is there an optimistic future for the city this time around?
January 17, 2013, 8am PST | Jessica Hsu
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"After a year of growing optimism about the economy, I feel a dot-com fever coming on," says Asato. Salesforce, Twitter, Square, Zynga, Yammer, Airbnb and other tech companies are moving into "SoMa's stock of historic mid-rise, light-industrial buildings," and apartment and condo buildings are being constructed throughout the neighborhood. "In anticipation of, or perhaps out of nostalgia for headier times, there’s an uptick in ventures blending workspace and event space, and a newer concept, 'innovation colonies,' has arrived on the scene," adds Asato. "They’re a kind of live/work coed frat house for young entrepreneurs, not to be confused with the proliferating start-up boot camps."

While previous dot-com and housing booms came and went without lasting benefit to SoMa, "[i]t's different this time, they say, the businesses are real, the venture capitalists and fiscal managers are more circumspect." An encouraging initiative that may result in an enduring public benefit from this boom is the city's Central Corridor Plan, "which aims to densify commercial and residential uses, make streets more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and add open space in the heart of SoMa."

What's different about this deja boom? Asato says, "What makes me optimistic about the city’s future are two shifts born out of the recent bust—the share economy and a scrappy approach to pushing good ideas forward—along with the popular embrace of cities as centers of innovation and planet-saving efficiency."

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Published on Thursday, January 10, 2013 in Metropolis Magazine
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