One of the largest and most diverse of districts, District 9 runs the gamut from luxury skyscraper penthouses with door people, high HOAs, amenities and valet parking to tiny bungalows, creaky Victorians that are falling apart, lofts, stunning hillside mansions and more.
What’s common to the area? Well, it’s sunny, closest to the freeways and mass transit (BART and CalTrain) and home to the emerging biotech sector, AT&T Park, the future Golden State Warriors stadium it’s no wonder why it’s one of the most-traded of the districts and the most travelled and trafficked. The people who live here range from renter, owner, tenant, landlord, lifers to just arrived, hipster, activist, baseball star, jet setter, the elderly, kids, techies who code to people who've never touched a computer.
The Inner Mission. Like Noe Valley is also focused on 24th Street, the traditionally Hispanic neighborhood has been ground central for the latest gentrification fights. What’s happening? Rental properties are being turned into TICs or razed to make way for larger market-rate condominiums for techie and professionals alike. At the same time more bike lanes are coming as are tech shuttles and protests. Inventory wise you’ll have old facade homes (split between condos/TICs and single-family homes) that have been really remodeled (quartz countertops, engineered woods, large format tile baths) that are sold as TICs as well as the fixer that is in need of substantial fixing. Therefore, you’re likely to find TICs here more than anywhere else in the City. What’s the draw? The neighborhood’s weather is warm, transit — car, shuttle or BART — is good and the neighborhood’s diversity are all draws. There are newer condo buildings towards Potrero, loft buildings like the ones near Hampshire and 18th Streets as well as the big brick and timber lofts on York Street as well as the big Union SF development around 20th and Bryant. The Media Gulch enclave near Alabama,19th Streets and Mariposa Streets has been led by the likes of Heath Ceramics, Slow Club, Coffee Bar, Sightglass, Mission Cliffs, Universal Café, Flower and Water, and with new businesses opening up every day there’s plenty more coming.
Potrero Hill 1 (flats). This area runs along 16th Street to about 18th Street along the area’s main drags — 18th, 17th and 16th Streets. In the flats you’ll see a mix of trades-related warehouses interspersed with historic loft conversion buildings, newer stock condominium buildings (1001 17th, the Onyx) and a very large condo development building at 17th Street and Kansas (The Potrero) that are complete with its very own Whole Foods and the large series of buildings along Carolina Street.
Potrero Hill 2 (North Slope). As you go up the slope you’ll encounter a mix older Edwardian two-unit buildings, marina-style houses, Victorians with fewer that have been renovated but the ones that have can be breathtaking or have breathtaking views. There is a good crop of circa 2007 vintage remodels in the area for some reason too with colored-glass pendants. This area focuses around 18th Street with its little shops, restaurants and venerable Goat Hill Pizza. The area is sought after for these single-family homes and split-up Victorians as many will have character and views of the City’s skyline.
Potrero Hill 3 (South Slope). On the other side of Southern Heights is the South Slope of Potrero Hill. You have a sunnier, drier part and a more desolate feel because the views are usually of 280/101. The streets are broader and there are big Victorians, some Edwardian condos and duplexes all sloping down. But as you get to 25th the freeway noise, and the slope downwards towards the infamous Potrero housing projects that have been identified as the next big redevelopment site which will feature a more mixed-income, less-dense focus that has worked at 25th and Harrison and at Valencia Gardens at Valencia and 14th Streets. Part of that redevelopment will also feature new market-rate condominiums too.
China Basin/Mission Creek is really just made up of one street — Berry Street — but the area is home to lots and lots of people as the area has been filled up by large bulky condo buildings bounded by 280, Mission Creek (which still stinks at low tide) and CalTrain and AT&T Park. The condos are modern, large, and somewhat generic. Why are they appealing? It’s a little bit of Tampa or suburbia in San Francisco as most units will have at least 2- to 3-bedrooms with 2- to 3-baths and there will be more consistency in the inventory as they were built off of the same mold. The most energy efficient building is the Arterra which manages to have a 24-hour front desk staff, gym, parking and common area rooms while having low HOA dues is because of the LEED elements the building incorporated when it was being built in the 2008-2009 era. The latest development, the Arden, expands on leitmotifs from its sister buildings in Mission Bay (the Radiance and Madrone) by having light, double-pane windows, recessed lighting, drywall and professional management. Most the buildings will likely have parking (at least the 2-bedroom units will) and most having a door attendant downstairs with key-fob entry. You’re likely to see a lot of investors here as the City’s comprehensive Rent Ordinance doesn’t apply here meaning no rent or eviction control.
Mission Bay the former dredged bay/dumping ground has been reclaimed by UCSF with its massive research buildings, Women’s & Children’s’ hospital and broad avenues. the area is flat and has great views of SF’s skyline. Many of the buildings here are high-end rentals with two notable exceptions built by the mogul Bosa family called the Radiance and the Madrone. These feature large condos with higher-end but generic finishes.
Dogpatch was home to the City Attorney and to the Hell’s Angels for the longest time as the area languished after the area’s Pier 70 shuttered. The area has revitalized over the past 10 years with loft condominiums leading the way, the addition of the T-Line on 3rd Street and now with the promise of Pier 70’s ballot-measure approved revitalization project. While you can take CalTrain down the Peninsula you’ll likely drive on 280. And the area’s soundtrack is the sound of rubber meeting 280’s pavement. You’ll find loft condominiums from the 2000 and later vintage. You’ll see wood floors, brick & timber, modern build condos with more rooms and space with minimal amenities but with parking. The Hell’s Angels and City Attorney still live here.
South of Market (SOMA) was the original home to the urban lofts in San Francisco. Starting in the 1990s the areas warehouses and vacant lots were filled in by, well, loft condominiums on the area’s small alley side streets. First emerging in the 1990s as “live/work” lofts where anyone living in these units also had to have a business license from the City (lots of ‘consultants’) they’ve evolved over time growing more elaborate and more luxurious. There are some stunning examples of brick and timber renovations like those in the Oriental Warehouse at Delancey and Brannan Streets down to the Clocktower, to modern concrete/harsher designs 855 Folsom to more generic, more modern ones. Starting in the late 2000s with the Palms at 4th and Bryant the area has now moved solidly into the mid- to high-rise luxury developments that are named or are known by their addresses: 829 Folsom, 200 Delancy, 175 Bluxome, the Portside, Bridgeview, etc. Traffic from 1st to 6th Streets on weekday mornings until 10am and starting again from 4pm until 7pm is nightmarish especially if there’s a baseball game or an accident on the bridge; yet, on weekends its super quiet. Within this area is Mid-Market/Central SOMA, from 6th Street to 12th, where twitter, square and other .coms have setup shop (thanks to the Mayor’s payroll tax incentives) alongside local arts organizations and more and more luxury condominium buildings (some being rental ones like the NEMA). The juxtaposition between gridlocked cars (despite big one-way streets), people walking to work from CalTrain or BART with ironic t-shirts and the homeless population this area is undergoing rapid development/gentrification with prices rising as more inventory is built. The issue is that many of the new-build condominiums are far more of a commodity because they are so similar to each other (although having parking is key as the City doesn’t require a 1:1 ratio of units and parking spaces).
South Beach. The land of high-rise condos, some luxurious, others ultra-luxurious with amenities and high HOAs that seem to be springing up like weeds. Also home to mid-rise buildings that house baseball stairs, corporate rentals in a streetscape filled with construction cranes, baseball traffic and commuters. Even though there are views of the Bay Bridge and the East Bay it still feels like the most generic part of the City. Traffic has gotten worse and worse as the economy picks up and as more skyscrapers are being built. Some marque buildings here: One Rincon Hill, the Harrison (aka, the second tower), the Infinity and the Lumina among many other buildings opened as rentals but may well be turned into condominiums sooner or later.
A Bounty on Bernal Heights
Being named as Redfin’s Number 1 neighborhood in the country recently, this eclectic neighborhood is bisected by Bernal Hill — the favorite stomping grounds of our four-legged friends who bark from time to time — into the North Slope and South Slope. And the South Slope has a natural division at Cortland Street, the main commercial street for area. To the west in that area is Holly Park and to the east you’ll closer to 101/280. Prices have surged of late and it’s common to see single-family houses with 3-bedrooms and updated bathrooms with parking close above $2M (March 2016). Because of the variety we’ve really broken if down the areas:
A + H. Manchester Hill/Coso flats (otherwise west of Folsom). More rental buildings than rest of area, close to Mission and Cesar Chavez. Some nice properties but there are rentals and rundown ones too. Mixed inventory on a series of one-way streets that are narrow steep; many homes have no parking.
B + C. The North Slope — just south Cesar Chavez this micro area is anchored with Precita Park at the base of the slope all the way up until you get to Ripley. Houses with views of the skyline are the ones that command the most value. Some houses are done and redone while others are still vintage or are in need of updating. Beware tenants and/or potentially odd construction and illegal in-law units.
C + D + E. Peralta/Mullen Very quiet, steep hills/narrow streets. Mix of old random bungalows and remodeled, chic homes. Some views — partial to full. Biggest price mix with some great homes and fixers. Potentially amazing views or Midcentury wryness/quietness almost desolate for the areas near eastern tip of Bernal Hill; steppe-like. In between two hills and removed from amenities with eastern/southern views
H, I. Virginia, Fair and Prospect Close to Mission but quiet and tree-lined; curvy streets. Quiet and cute. Some houses have been remodeled while others have not. Mix of prices.
G. Cortland Corridor Cute neighborhood feel. More homes to have been remodeled recently but many haven’t so there’s a bigger mix, more dense. Some real stunners, gems and diamonds in the rough. North side more valued than south side because of views
E. Holladay Quiet area, more removed and eastern views but 101 is right below elevation; freeway noise. All houses were picked up and moved here in the 40s/50s/60s when freeway was built. Lower prices.
J. Nevada/Ogden — South of Cortland, a bit run-down, fewer and smaller homes but some have been remodeled but the ones that have been can be amazing; south of Ogden, close to 280 (with the perpetual soundtrack from those cars), there are literally some cars on blocks south of Ogden in front of hodge-podge, DIY renovations that are questionable. In other words, lots of potential.
L. Richland/Crescent — Near to Holly Park, was a previously a rough neighborhood but the area is starting the process of gentrification with values starting to rise and houses growing nicer. Hard to tell between quality renovations and so-so ones until you go inside.
I. Holly Park (Mixed) Cuteness — cute houses, many haven’t been remodeled yet. Quiet. Holly Park. Fixers will be in demand. Higher prices for done homes, but quality will depend on which part of circle you’re at. Housing project toward western part; fire station at Southwest corner.
L. Mission/St. Mary’s Park — Close to Mission Street and Crescent. Lots of freeway noise from 280 nearer to Justin Street that can feel isolated because it’s not quite Bernal but not quite the Outer Mission. Areas closer to Alemany are more rundown as the road gets closer to the freeway; as such there is lighter demand and lower prices.