For a time I had two parallel careers: city planning consulting and real estate agent. Though I’d studied city planning, I’d also long had a real estate license so I could help out in my partner’s business on the weekends. In 2005 with the strong local property market I went full time into real estate sales while my planning consulting was fledgling.
During that time I got a listing for a loft that was in the popular South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. Life in SOMA varies block-to-block, with snazzy new lofts and highrises on one block, and skid row and rescue missions on the next. It is the diversity that makes the neighborhood interesting and provides a place for pretty much everyone, but can provide a challenge for marketing a property depending on which of those blocks it is located. My loft listing was on one of the more troubled blocks, one with more than its share of boarded-up buildings and illicit activity occurring in broad daylight. Yet within two or three blocks were the bars, restaurants and markets that prospective loft-dwellers would be attracted to.
In an effort to encourage prospective buyers to “look there, not here” I took a series of neighborhood photos to accompany the internet property listing. The photos included the various popular hang-outs in SOMA at the time.
A decade later, SOMA is a bit more snazzy and quite a bit less diverse than it was then. And at the time these photos were taken, the neighborhood had already been notable for how much it had changed from previous decades. So in a sense, these photos offer a time capsule of a point in time of an ever-changing neighborhood.