San Fran Officials Flee Downtown Offices 

City officials in San Francisco are planning to pull their offices from a downtown building close to City Hall because of a poor real estate market and high rents.

The building where the offices are located downtown is 11 stories tall. Initially, it was leased to county and city officials in 1999. It has also served as the office space for various municipal departments such as the Department of the Environment, the Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Now, though, some city officials will be leaving the building.

The San Francisco Standard reported recently that the city’s Board of Supervisors had a chance to renew its lease agreement in 2023 with the building’s owner but decided against doing so. The building is owned by a non-profit organization called LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

By doing so, the building is now placed into special servicing, which will determine if the owner will be able to pay off all its debts, which amount to a $48 million mortgage that’s due next January. That’s all according to real estate data company Trepp.

In an email to The Standard, Sharon Giovinazzo, the CEO of LightHouse, wrote:

“Losing the City as a tenant would create a great financial hardship for the LightHouse for the Blind.”

The non-profit has reached out to the city, she added, but they haven’t responded just yet. The request asks to give more discounts on the cost of rent that would also include a period of two years where there would be no rent at all.

Giovinazzo said she wasn’t optimistic about the deal, and that the city ultimately would likely “abandon the building that literally sits in the shadows of City Hall.

One of the mayor’s spokesmen, Jeff Cretan, commented on the situation:

“We are being responsible with taxpayer funds and looking for the best opportunities to continue to have a strong presence [in] our downtown and Market Street area. This isn’t about quitting downtown — it’s about finding a new building.”

City departments are just the latest entities that are abandoning San Francisco’s downtown. Many corporations and retail businesses have fled not just the city but California as a whole.

In just the last few years, there have been significant concerns regarding employee safety in some regions as well as local conditions for businesses that can only be described as poor.

One business owner, Frank Russo, commented on the situation in San Francisco to the California Globe recently:

“It just [isn’t] the same city it used to be. In the 80s and 90s, there was still something to it. People were proud of the city, and while there was crime and everything, it wasn’t that big of a worry.

“You could also walk down the sidewalks, as no tents were there.”

Some areas of San Francisco have experienced a 240% increase in crime over the last year. That has convinced major retailers such as Nordstrom to shut down their doors in the city permanently.