A San Francisco-based cycling company has moved its distribution center from the Mission to a larger space in Oakland — a move that does not bode well for the goal of keeping industrial jobs in the city.
Public Bikes, a bicycle company that launched in 2010, moved its distribution center from 2125 Harrison St. to Oakland last week. At the same time, the company launched a pop-up store on Valencia Street near 17th that will operate for eight months.
The moves underscore two economic realities: the city is losing industrial jobs, and Valencia Street is becoming the epicenter for commerce in the Mission.
Public Bikes didn’t leave because it couldn’t pay the rent, but because it had outgrown its 8,000-square-foot space, said company spokesman Dan Nguyen-Tan.
“We would have loved to stay in San Francisco, but we needed space that was definitely larger and expandable” he said. “Most places in San Francisco didn’t have the modern amenities but also expandability.”
That’s not what the city wants to hear. In 2008, San Francisco adopted the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which zoned the northeast part of the Mission as industrial in an attempt to maintain and encourage industrial jobs in the area.
The idea was that companies would provide good-paying industrial jobs for area residents. Unlike other industrial parts of the city, the northeastern Mission is a truly mixed-use neighborhood, where industrial buildings are next to housing.
Citywide, the number of jobs classified under the land use PDR, which includes manufacturing, distribution and repair jobs, declined to 76,727 in 2009 from 116,540 in 2000, according to the Planning Department’s Commerce & Industry Inventory for 2010.
Of the Mission’s total of 16,187 jobs in 2009, the PDR segment represented 2,993, making it the third largest, after retail and office jobs.
New Pop-Up Store
At the same time it was moving its distribution center, Public Bikes was opening a new pop-up store at Harrington Galleries, 599 Valencia St.
“We have a very strong local customer base. We wanted to have a street presence in what we consider the heart of cycling in San Francisco,” Nguyen-Tan said.
There is room for another bicycle company on Valencia, he said. Public Bikes is akin to the Mission Bicycle Company in that it designs and manufactures its own bicycles, as opposed to shops that sell and repair other companies’ products.
“We love being on Valencia for all the reasons why we love the Mission,” Nguyen-Tan said. “It’s diverse, eclectic, and with a lot of pedestrian traffic … from locals and visitors.”
Update: We just got word that Mission Bicycle Company opened a distribution center on Valencia Street this month.
From a press release sent today:
“The new facility located at 827 Valencia Street opened on April 1st. The same day that Public Bikes closed their facility.
“‘We’d rather export bicycles built in San Francisco than export jobs,’ remarked Jefferson McCarley, general manager of Mission Bicycle Company. “We’re growing and needed more space so we started looking last sumer. It took us almost a full year to find a spot here in the Mission District. It wasn’t easy at all but it was important to us that we remain here in the neighborhood. We’ve been building bikes in the Mission since 2007 and we’re not about to build them many where else.’”