Return of the Bubble? SOMA Startups Proliferate

Antony Mayfield

Maybe things aren't so bleak after all.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the dot-com startup bubble is still bouncing along -- at least, that's the case at 410 Townsend Street in SOMA. After a period a few years ago during which only 40 percent of the office building was occupied, businesses are now clamoring for space. Tenants include Yammer, Eventbrite, Playdom, and Zendesk. You know they're dot-coms because they have adorable names.

The future is apparently bright for the Silicon Valley tech scene, from the suburbs all the way up to the doorstep of the downtown highrises. An ongoing economic recovery has buoyed investment, with startups and incubators flourishing in the last year.

And surprisingly, rent hasn't skyrocketed. It's still unreasonable, of course -- just under $30 per square foot, or about $3 million per quarter for an average office. That's down from a peak of around $4.5 million in 2008.

Life South of Market is not without its challenges. The formerly industrial neighborhood is short on pedestrian amenities, traffic is dangerous, and crime is never far. But the neighborhood's quality of life is poised to improve, with a new supervisor sweeping into office soon. One of the most headline-grabbing candidates: local drag celeb Anna Conda, whose platform includes taxing pot, creating safe and affordable housing, boosting nightlife, and -- startups will be pleased to hear -- extending rent control to small businesses.

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