San Francisco

Hitting the brakes: Shift to vacate its Castro offices

Shift, the Castro-based car sales startup born in the neighborhood, will soon be vacating the area in search of larger digs, more than two years before the company's lease is set to expire. 

"Unfortunately, we are growing quickly and need more space," Shift founder and Co-CEO George Arison told Hoodline via email. Arison said the company plans to vacate its current offices sometime in the first quarter of next year, but wouldn't provide more details. 

Craigslist posting lists the approximately 4,030-square-foot office space at 2500 Market St. — where the company has housed its headquarters since 2015 — for $20,150 per month. A sublease is available through April 2020, according to the listing. 

Shift's offices at 584b Castro Street. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Shift also has an office at 584b Castro St., though it's not clear if they will leave that space, as well. 

Launched in 2014, the company got its start in Arison's apartment on Ord Street, he said. "Our first office was on Castro Street, and then we moved to the Market Street office." 

However, Shift has had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with the Planning Department, which may be one of the reasons Shift is looking for office space elsewhere. 

In March, Shift received a Notice of Violation and Penalty Decision for operating an office out of 2336-2338 Market St. (now MX3 Fitness) without the proper permits. 

Shift vacated its offices at 2336-2338 Market earlier this year. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

At the time, Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez determined Shift would need to apply for a conditional use permit to combine both floors. He also determined that permits authorizing retail automobile sales are prohibited in the area. Shift facilitates the buying and selling of used cars. 

After appealing the decision to the Board of Appeals, Shift ultimately decided to vacate the space.

"In part, given a very unfortunate and backwards real estate regulatory environment — which prefers empty storefronts to thriving businesses — we weren't able to find enough space for us to stay in the Castro," Arison said of his decision to move. 

Shift President and Co-CEO Tony Russell and CEO George Arison. | Photo: Courtesy Shift

"We looked very hard to expand our offices in the Castro so we could stay ... we have loved our five-plus years [here]." 

For Arison, founding Shift in the Castro is personal, too. "Having my company in this neighborhood for me especially, given that I'm gay, has been a really special thing," he said. "I'm so proud that we built our company here." 

When asked where Shift will be moving its offices to next, Arison said nothing is definitive yet. "A few things are still in the air." 

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