Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Local real estate firm wins community support for Castro satellite office

A real estate firm would like to open in this storefront at 2324 Market Street.

A real estate firm would like to open in this storefront at 2324 Market Street.

Despite the adoption this year of zoning rules aimed at stopping non-retail uses from moving into ground floor storefronts in the city’s Castro district, one local real estate firm has won community support to open a satellite office on upper Market Street.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in June, Drysdale Properties, a local affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in 2014 had planned to move into the roughly 280 square foot space at 2324 Market Street. But before it could open its doors, it was the target of neighborhood complaints for not seeking the required permits imposed on real estate offices wanting to open in ground floor retail spaces along upper Market Street.

The zoning controls, made permanent this spring by City Hall, aim to limit the number of real estate offices, as well as financial services and other non-retail uses, moving into ground floor storefronts on Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street.

Seeking neighborhood support ahead of a hearing before the city’s planning commission, Drysdale owner Gretchen Pearson and real estate agent John Oldfield were back this morning (Thursday, November 5) before the Castro’s business association to plead their case.

“We realize the retail strategy report prefers different retail in this space. We support that report,” said Oldfield. “But it has been vacant for years. We are asking for an exception.”

He was referring to the Castro Retail Strategy released this summer that identifies the types of stores residents of the neighborhood would prefer see open along upper Market Street as well as Castro Street.

The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District worked with the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, and the Castro Merchants group to develop the report.

The CBD and DTNA have both voted to support Drysdale Properties’s request to open at 2324 Market Street. The Castro/EVNA ended up voting against the company, while the Castro Merchants voted in support.

Years ago Drysdale had operated across the street in a space on the 2200 block of Market Street. It now wants to return to the Castro and use the storefront at 2324 Market Street as a satellite location for its main office on Polk Street.

When Oldfield and Pearson first went before the Castro Merchants group in June to present their plans, they addressed concerns that a real estate office would do little to activate the street. They noted that either an agent or a receptionist would work out of the space.

Other agents would utilize it when showing off properties in the Castro and surrounding neighborhoods. The office would be open on weekends, and Drysdale intends to install a window display of homes for sale to attract foot traffic at various hours.

Because the storefront lacks plumbing – there is access to a bathroom elsewhere in the building – Drysdale has argued it is not ideal for use by a more traditional retailer.

Yet D&H Sustainable Jewelers, which is located directly across the street at 2323 Market Street, had been interested in leasing the space in order to open a watch store. But it could not receive a response from the previous landlord for the building.

The locally-owened jewelry store’s interest to expand into the space was brought up again at this morning’s meeting. Yet Pearson countered that Drysdale is a locally- and woman-owned company.

She added that Drysdale is in talks with its landlord to lease an additional 279 square foot space on the second floor of the Market Street building. It comes with a beautiful chandelier, said Pearson, and could be used as a community meeting room for Castro groups and local nonprofits.

The city’s planning commission is expected to vote on Drysdale’s permit request to move into the 2324 Market Street retail space at an upcoming meeting.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 5, 2015 @ 5:37 pm PST
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