Could Mid-Market Become SF's Next Hot Neighborhood?
By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 7, 2011


Image courtesy flickr user Franco Folini

There's been a lot of hullabaloo about San Francisco's Mid-Market area lately, mostly focused on the new payroll tax exemption for businesses that locate in the neighborhood and the planned CityPlace Project, a major retail development, both approved by the city last September. But a gaggle of planners and economic development experts are already working hard to transform this area into an arts district anchored by a redesigned Market Street.

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) has recently launched the Central Market Economic Strategy to bring new life to the Mid-Market area. One of the key thrusts of this effort is the creation of an arts district that builds on some of the existing cultural institutions, including the American Conservatory Theater, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, the SF Film Society and Intersection for the Arts. The Black Rock Foundation, the organizer of the annual Burning Man event, is also slated to move to the area. What if the proximity of all of these arts institutions, in either new or rehabilitated buildings, led to a complete reconceptualization of Mid-Market? Could it become a premier West Coast arts district, a place to come see a play, watch modern dance and walk a few feet to eat at a great restaurant? Such a district could be an incredible benefit to San Francisco as a whole, increasing sales tax revenue and creating new local jobs.

Representatives of OEWD are quick to point out that such a change does not happen over night — and it doesn’t happen without significant investment. There's also a lot of work to be done to attract small businesses, larger employers and housing for families with a mix of incomes. OEWD staffers are currently seeking public input on their draft objectives for the Central Market Economic Strategy (PDF download). Once you’ve had a cup of coffee and reviewed the document, email your thoughts to

Meanwhile, representatives of the SF Planning Department, the Municipal Transportation Agency and the Department of Public Works are in the process of developing a new vision for Market Street. The Better Market Street Plan will make Market Street a better place to walk, bike and take transit. The hope is that this work will make Market Street so much “sweeter for people” (to use the phrase of Danish urbanist Jan Gehl) that it will also become a much better place to stop, sit with friends and people watch.

Attend our forum on the Better Market Street Plan July 12 >>

Read more about the Mid-Market payroll tax exemption >>

Check out a recent presentation on Mid-Market at SPUR >>

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