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The Flowers Are Saved

Scott Lucas | July 25, 2014 | Story Real Estate

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. And if you need to buy some flowers to do that, it's hard to find a better place than the Flower Mart at Sixth and Brannan. The more than fifty-year-old market is all kinds of amazing: We've never seen more petunias in one place. And it's also one of the few holdouts from San Francisco's blue-collar past. There's not too many smelters or glaziers left in place in SoMa, after all.

So that's you can imagine the worries that a planned office development on its site would wilt the Flower Mart.

But it turns out you can have your roses and smell them too. The investment company putting together the deal that will build two mid-rise office buildings there announced that it plans to keep the Flower Mart in place. That's good news.

All it took was a little vision. As the CEO of the real estate investment company that closed the $27 million deal was quoted as saying, "The Flower Mart has been a part of the fabric of the community at this location for more than 60 years—and who doesn't love flowers? Our first charge to (architect) SOM was first, let's find a way to make this project work economically and second, let's preserve the Flower Mart for the long term."

The site has been subject of development wrangling for years. A previous proposal by the Academy of Art University that would have torn out the flowers was abandoned after opposition from then mayor-Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors.

Under the new plan, the Flower Mart, the second-largest of its kind in the United States, and its 200 jobs and 88 separate small businesses will stay put, as Kilroy Realty Corp. builds two mid-rise office towers. The exact details have yet to be announced.

There you go. 655,000 square feet of new office space. Plus all the gardenias you can bundle. Now, if we can just figure out how to keep our teachers and artists in town too.

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