Online scrap booking site Pinterest has signed a lease for a 311,000-square-foot building in San Francisco’s Showplace Square District — but the company’s move will evict dozens of smaller
design and production businesses, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Pinterest, which currently resides in the SOMA district, plans to take over the San Francisco Design Center. The four-story warehouse is currently only zoned for production, distribution, and repair (PDR) companies in an effort to preserve San Francisco’s blue-collar jobs. The building
can’t be used for office space, which is what Pinterest plans to convert the designer showroom space into.
A legal loophole in zoning regulations allows PDR-zoned buildings to be converted into office space, as long as the buildings are designated historic landmarks. The San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission already approved the historic designation on 2 Henry Adams St., the location of the warehouse Pinterest has its eye on.
“We’re drawn to the building by the prospect of staying in the great neighbourhood and having our company embedded with the very design community that is at the heart of our service. We’re pleased to have been part of the area for more than two years, renovating two buildings and contributing to the many nearby businesses in the process. While nothing is final yet, we hope to be able to stay there for a long time,” a Pinterest spokesperson said Monday in an email to Business Insider.
Current tenants are dissatisfied with the eviction, though the terms of their removal from the building are still unclear. “I know for a fact, because I am in the location I am in, I work with the top designers. My clients are the top designers,” says Jeanne Reynolds, showroom manager at Country Floors of America. “I would lose all my top clients.”
Country Floors, which has been on the first floor of the building for 21 years, tried to renew its long-term lease several months ago. The company was told, without being given a reason, that it could only sign a month-to-month lease, KQED reports.
The warehouse’s property owner, who is pursuing the lease with Pinterest, will attempt to relocate some long-term tenants to the Galleria building across the street, but that’s already 80 per cent leased, and there isn’t much room for new tenants.
Once the Board of Supervisors okays the historic designation, Pinterest will move into more than two-thirds of the building. All but a few of the tenants will face eviction. However, Supervisor Malia Cohen is preparing legislation that could potentially change the historic landmark loophole, mandating that even historic landmarks can’t convert entirely to office space.
“The market is changing and the landlords are seeing dollar signs,” Cohen told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They want to push everyone out. That kind of displacement sickens me, and it’s the kind of displacement that has San Francisco in a crisis.”
San Francisco residents and small businesses have been priced out of their rents to make way for tech companies, like Pinterest, that have moved into the city. A series of anti-tech and anti-gentrification protests have rocked the city in recent months as well.