Screenshot via Google Maps.

HTC, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world, is looking to expand its San Francisco presence by converting an industrial building in the northeast Mission into a design center and laboratory, according to documents submitted to the San Francisco Planning Department.

One & Co, an industrial design firm acquired by HTC in 2008, currently has office space on the first floor of 576-590 York St. The Taiwan-based company wants to take over the second floor of the building as well and consolidate its design team into the 14,176 square foot, two-story brick building at the corner of 18th Street, documents show.

“Collocation of the entire [HTC’s San Francisco design team] will produce synergies that will allow HTC to maintain and expand its industrial and product development, product engineering and testing and commercial arts and graphic design operations in San Francisco,” Matthew Gray, the lawyer representing HTC, wrote to the Planning Department.

Perkins Coie, the architecture firm hired by HTC, sent a letter to the Planning Department last July asking for a determination of the legality of the move. The department reported that its plans are mostly in line with the zoning restrictions in the area.

Phone call and email requests seeking comment from the architecture firm, HTC and One & Co were not returned.

As tech companies look to hire local talent, they have been increasingly aggressive in leasing office space in San Francisco. Tech currently occupies some 22 percent of the total office space in San Francisco, according to a report by Global Research and Consulting. Salesforce announced this week that it was leasing a 180,000 square foot space on Brannan Street.

HTC would join Soundcloud, which moved to Treat Avenue in 2011, as one of the major tech companies in the Mission. Earlier this year, Tech Crunch reported that Twice, an online consignment shop, signed a lease for warehouse space in the Mission.

Amid the shortage of office space in San Francisco, city government should consider changing the zoning restrictions in the northeast Mission, said local land-use consultant Philip Lesser. At present, zoning prevents the conversion of industrial space to office space.

Silicon Valley has stretched to the east side of San Francisco, shrinking the supply of available office space, Lesser said. “Hopefully the San Francisco Board of Supervisors can revisit the zoning for 21st century office space.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that tech companies occupy 40 percent of all office space in San Francisco. They actually occupy 22 percent. We regret the error.

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare...

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    1. Why put all your economic eggs in one basket? Get rid of all the PDR* spaces, and come the next bubble collapse, we’ll again have millions of empty square feet of wasted techie office space, and no places available for local entrepreneurs who would still here, hiring locals, even in (and especially in) a normal, non-bubble economy.

      Why are you guys so hostile to local entrepreneurs?

      *production, distribution, repair

      1. It’s 15 years since you probably first claimed that tech is a temporary thing and a bubble, and yet here it is doing better than ever.

        Not all growth is a bubble.

        1. I never said it is. There are legitimate tech businesses, businesses whose P/E ratio is in line with historic norms for healthy companies.

          Most of the companies with inflated P/E rations are toast, and are just kept on life support by QE2. What will happen as QE2 subsides, and the bottomless pit of VC funding rounds for UNPROFITABLE businesses actually ends? Should the taxpayer keep bailing them out?

          We’ve been pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into a hole. How much longer must we keep this financialized Frankenstein alive?

          1. The purpose of QE was to smooth out the market cycle. As someone who benefits from volatility, i might well claim that i’d rather see some chaos and turmoil. But I think the nation as a whole has benefitted from QE and it’s calming effect.

            That doesn’t mean I am buying tech stocks, but nor do I think tech is going anywhere. We live in a tech town.

          2. So, you concede then, that the banks are truly above the law and too big to fail?

            The purpose of QE2 was to prop up and inflate the assets of the 1% wealth-extracting elites at taxpayer expense.

            Instead of writing down failed paper and selling the banks off to the highest bidder as would happen for any other insolvent business, we gave them the biggest welfare payout in history. Why do they get hundreds of billions of dollars — our own money — while we’ve had to tighten out belts?

            Trillions of dollars have now been paid to bail out INSOLVENT companies. The CEOs of these companies — instead of being prosecuted for massive financial fraud — were all rewarded with bigger salaries and bonuses PAID FOR BY THE TAXPAYERS!!

            I love your concepts of a sound business model and healthy economy.

          3. I wouldn’t say that banks are above the law but we have to have a banking system in a sense that we do not have to build cars.

            So I’d have let GM go bust as well as some other banks. I am no fan of Keynes or Krugman.

    2. That building is already zoned for office space and is fully occupied.

      Hey, you are already displacing regular workers so why not displace their jobs as well? That will complete the city take over by the new piggy back wealth elites.

      Wait, now’s there’s a shortage of office space? Because there is so much housing and with the awesome transportation links, clearly we can pack in more people making far above the median salary. I know of tech startups that have bought and converted residential condos to offices. So there is also that noble route. They already pay their workers enough to displace most everyone else, so its all good, no worries.

      1. I was citing Lesser’s remark about why there is a shortage of office space.

        I saw nothing in the article to indicate that any workers were “displaced” here.

    3. Yes…I agree with John. Let’s get rid of PDR or at least revise it to some extent to be mutually beneficial to all businesses (and residents)…it’s stifling the growth in our area. Additionally it has had a negative impact on much needed residential units in the area. The city residents are complaining about the need for more housing, so why on earth would our planning department rezone this area to PDR and in effect make many units that were used for housing illegal. This zoning means that when I decide to move out of my live-work space (which is a legal home with a certificate of occupancy on file), no one will be able to move-in and rent it as a home or live-work space. Living here….in this home, will be illegal. Not good.

  1. Remember, kids, rules and regulations are stacks of baloney designed to unfairly keep corporations down!

    1. Remember Kids: Learn to Read! Nothing in the article suggests that any rules or regulations are being violated or ignored.

  2. It is worth noting that the PDR rules of the NE mission area are creating an interesting co-location of many tech companies that have a *physical* presence — there are a number of robotics companies, plasmonics, med-tech, nano-tech, and design companies clustering there — this is turning into a vibrant hub — so, while I’m generally for the free use of property, this may actually be a very valuable resource. Even if it stays PDR, it is going to turn into high-value tech space regardless — because it is that sort of work that makes sense in a city where land use is expensive and the density of ideas and knowledge exchange is high. Cities have always been knowlege generators, which is why they are a natural place for tech to cluster. The key point is that PDR does not just mean some old woodshop and a warehouse — it can mean any tech company that has a physical product / presence.

  3. Industrial design, which is what HTC says they want to concentrate here, fits quite well under PDR zoning. You can’t have ID prototyping equipment in normal office space.

  4. This building used to house Studio 4 back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, an anarchist queer communal performance space during the high queer era.

    Coi is a molecular gastronomy restaurant here in SF, koi is the Japanese decorative fish.

    1. Nice one. I was just reminiscing about Studio 4 with long time friends at a show at a different warehouse space this weekend.

      Long live Sabot.

      1. Just heard that Ms. Sabot has left the compound in Czechia for the green fields of Italia..

        There is remains a different warehouse space in the Mission? Which one, crazy eight?

    2. Oh well, if it used to be “an anarchist queer communal performance space” then I think taxpayers’ money should be used to dedicate this as a precious shrine and it be mothballed as is in perpetuity.

      1. Nobody is discussing using taxpayer money here. Just you with another outlet for your hatred of all people unlike John.

        1. So the idea to create an entire new city department won’t cost anything then?

          That said, the real solution here is for the city to do more to help poor folks and the homeless, rather than push than onto a small unwilling minority.

          1. Where is the idea for a new city department in this article or even from other commenters?

            Anything for an excuse to lash out at non-conformists.

          2. You’re right – I got my threads mixed up.

            It was just a little gentle irony, based on marcos’s overly precious prose about the building.

  5. This is a great investment for the neighborhood. The only people upset about it are the ones who want the Mission to remain frozen in amber and never change.

  6. This is horrible news. Not only will be be making a change to this pristine neighborhood, but we will be succumbing to an international corporation as well. Google buses prove that what we really need is less jobs and tax money.

  7. “As tech companies look to hire local talent, they have been increasingly aggressive in leasing office space in San Francisco”
    Yes, in fact they are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform so they can hire more locals!

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