It looks like Pinterest won’t be pinning its headquarters in Showplace Square after all.
A measure that would have replaced dozens of tenants at 2 Henry Adams St. with a San Francisco headquarters for the tech darling is all but dead after the Board of Supervisors Land Use & Economic Development Committee voted Monday to table the matter indefinitely.
RREEF, the owner of San Francisco Design Center at Showplace Square, had sought to take advantage of a city zoning ordinance that allows owners of designated historic landmarks to change zoning from so-called PDR – production, distribution and repair – to traditional office space. That would have allowed Pinterest to locate its offices there.
While Supervisor Malia Cohen said the Design Center building deserves landmark designation, she was uncomfortable with the property owner’s plans to move many longtime design businesses out. As the sponsor of the property’s landmark legislation, Cohen is the only supervisor who can revive it. She said she has no intention of doing so.
The 600,000-square-foot San Francisco Design Center consists of two buildings: 2 Henry Adams St. and 101 Henry Adams St. While some of the design center’s tenants supported Pinterest moving into the building, many others said it would lead to the demise of a collection of home-furnishing showrooms just rebounding from the recession.
Bay West Development, the management company that operates the property on behalf of RREEF, pulled out all the stops in its effort to persuade tenants, and the committee, to support the landmark designation. For the 77 tenants in the 2 Henry Adams building, the management company promised to find space for the vast majority of them, either in the 20 percent of 2 Henry Adams that would have remained PDR or across the street at 101 Henry Adams.
Bay West partner Sean Murphy had said his group would pay brokerage fees and relocation costs for displaced tenants. Pinterest sweetened the pot, saying it would pay the first two months’ rent to any tenants made to leave the design center.
But Cohen stressed that the land-marking bill was not about Pinterest, or even the design center. Some 15 buildings totaling 1 million square feet could be landmarked and converted to office space from PDR under the land-marking loophole, she said.
She said the legislation allowing landmarked property to convert to office space is meant as an economic incentive for property owners to do expensive seismic retrofits and renovation. But 2 Henry Adams has been “impeccably maintained through the downturn.”
“This isn’t in the spirit of the code or the landmark legislation,” she said. “We are not talking about one building, but 15.”
She also said she didn’t buy Bay West’s assurances about the tenants. “I still think there is significant amount of confusion about what will happen with the tenants,” she said.
After the vote, a spokesman for Bay West said the group was “disappointed the item was tabled” but that it would continue to seek a compromise. “We agree with them that what the Design District has always been about is finding a good mix of uses,” said spokesmanCharlie Goodyear.
John McEvoy, an art dealer who has been in the design center for 24 years, said Pinterest is not the issue. “I use Pinterest. It could be State Farm Insurance. The problem is putting office tenants in the shrinking PDR space of San Francisco.”
From SF Gate