I’ve already made a stupid joke in this column about development, real estate, and gentrification not being a game when a game was made about it. But woe is me, I just heard about TWO new games about real estate and development – I jumped the gun!
The fun thing is that the games are almost completely at odds in their approach. In one, you have these Polish dudes who made an enhanced-reality game you play on your phone in which you acquire properties you come across in real life and then try to get your revenues as high as possible while offsetting costs.
Imaginatively entitled “Real Estate Tycoon,” I can’t decide if it’s cringeworthy or hilarious in its eagerness to turn ruthless profiteering into a fun game while also presenting the activity as…well, ruthless profiteering. The logo is literally a grey haired white guy rubbing his hands with glee over the millions he’s making! And if that’s not enough, here’s their promo video.
And in a whiplash-inducing 180 from that comes this Video game creator who has made a game for you to pretend to be a speculator, but this one in order to teach about the dangers of development leading to gentrification. It even includes elements like organizers pushing back on development projects, a familiar sight to anyone who pays attention to local planning processes.
There is also an interesting tidbit of reality I came across this week regarding the sale of buildings. It has to do with transfer taxes. Presenting recent data to a roundtable of reporters, the San Francisco Assessor Recorder Carmen Chu said this week that the most expensive properties sold are a tiny fraction of transactions in San Francisco but represent a large amount of local transfer tax revenue. Around three percent of all transfers bring in some 72 percent of transfer tax revenue – a total of $273 million last fiscal year.
Of course transfer taxes are tied to transfers – as in, sales – and we can expect that to dip when the economy does. And it does tentatively seem to be heading in that direction. Tentatively.
On one hand, you have Twitter looking to rent out a bunch of its office space, which goes hand in hand with a bit of sluggishness in the company’s growth and stock value. And realtors continue to offer incentives like one month free rent to get new apartments leased more quickly. Consider this choice quote from the Business Times:
“It has to soften. There’s just too much inventory in the pipeline and almost all of it is composed of units looking to rent at the very highest end of S.F. rental prices,” said Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst at brokerage Paragon Real Estate Group.
But on the other, the office building boom appears to be going strong again and commercial tenants are certainly looking.
And more housing is in the pipeline, with two projects just approved for the Mission.
In business updates, Valencia street is seeing significant turnover. After the closure of several businesses along the street from 20th to 22nd streets, there were many empty storefronts, but window decals indicate new arrivals.
The former Lost Weekend Video (which now exists as a kiosk inside of the New Mission Theater / Alamo Drafthouse) has become a clothing shop called Audrey. The former Mission Creek Cafe space is slated to become a Benny Gold store – the streetwear designer has a current location on 16th street but faced a recent rent increase to $8,000 a month, prompting his move to Valencia, because, as he says on his blog, “if I’m going to pay Valencia prices, I might as well be on Valencia.”
The spacious storefront formerly home to Freewheel bike shop is set to become environmentalist clothier Reformation, and Smitten Ice Cream will go into the former Chocolatier Blue.
Oh, and Craftsman and Wolves has opened a little storefront in the Bayview, where free slices of pizza are available to the needy through a pay-it-forward system.
Getting off Valencia for a bit, Capp Street Crap reports a new gallery and cafe is opening on 26th and Capp streets. Known as The Laundry, its aim is affordable arts space – something in notoriously short supply in the Mission these days.
A former auto body shop on 14th street is now a brewery, Hoodline reports. Visitors can find kolsch, Belgian blonde, extra pale ale, and a porter are available there – as well as some pinball machines. Perhaps a new hangout for the pinball league?