The Castro could be getting another real estate office, pending final approval from the city.
Later this month, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices real estate brokerage firm is set to go before the Planning Commission for an office space at 2324 Market St.
Despite the neighborhood's restrictions on non-retail commercial businesses, the move is getting support from some prominent local groups.
The approximately 300 square foot space was previously occupied by Wicked Scent which closed late last decade and has been vacant since. Due to the small size and lack of plumbing in the space, it would be difficult for any type of food service restaurant to open there.
The firm is seeking a change of use from "vacant retail to a Business or Professional Service pursuant Planning Code Sections 303 and 733.53 and 790.108."
John Oldfield, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway, tells Hoodline that plans are to have approximately 12-18 agents working out of the office but not all at the same time due to the size constraints.
Berkshire Hathaway currently has three other offices in San Francisco, on Taraval, Polk and Portola. Oldfield tells us that plans are for the Polk St location to provide the majority of the support for the smaller satellite office on Market St.
Berkshire Hathaway had previously tried to open in this space last year but was required to obtain a Conditional Use permit due to recent zoning control changes meant to limit the number of financial services in Castro retail locations.
Note: The hearing is set for this month, not 2015.
This isn't the first business in the Castro that has hit some road blocks with the recent zoning changes. Back in October we told you about the unnamed business that had not obtained the proper permits before opening at 4035 18th. They have since moved out and now District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener is operating his Campaign Office for State Senate from the location.
Retail vacancies have been a major concern in the Castro with the neighborhood having a higher than average vacancies amongst all neighborhoods in the city, as last years Castro Retail Strategy Plan showed.
While Oldfield acknowledges that a real estate office may not be an ideal use for the ground floor space due to the lack of foot traffic it creates he says that "in this case there’s really not a lot of other alternatives to occupy space. With us in there it will be open and functioning.”
Berkshire Hathaway will be open 7 days a week with agents working out of the office every day. Oldfield tells us that they hope to "liven up the north side of Market St which generally has less foot traffic than the opposite side of the street." He attributes that in part due to some of the vacancies on that side of the block.
He also tells us that Berkshire Hathaway has received letters of support from the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD), the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA) and the Castro Merchants. According to Oldfield, the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association was split 50/50 and did not support the project. EVNA did not return our request for comment about their concerns.
If Berkshire Hathaway wins support at this hearing, which Oldfield believes they will, plans are to open the office in approximately two to three weeks. Work has already begun inside, he says. They have already painted and added new floors inside. The biggest hold up to opening will be getting internet access from Comcast.
The hearing is set for 12pm Thursday, April 21st, 2016 in City Hall Room 400. As we learn more information we will update the story.