They Might Be Tearing Down The Creamery To Build Condos

If you’re involved in the startup world in San Francisco you’ve likely been to the Creamery on Townsend and 4th street. It’s iconic, even if only recently so.

In 2012 I wrote about the Creamery in a post talking about the shift in startups from the Palo Alto area to San Francisco, noting that “CrunchFund has probably closed (meaning the verbal agreement part) more deals there than anywhere else.”

Other press cemented the cafe’s reputation as the place to do business. Today there are probably at least a handful of startup meetings going on there at any given time – interviews, investment pitches, or just friends trading ideas.

Even this morning I ran into two people I know there. And a third saw me but I missed him.

Which is why I’m sad to say that from what I hear, the Creamery won’t be around that much longer.

The problem is the value of the real estate it’s sitting on. The cafe is a one story building sitting among much larger buildings.

CrunchFund recently bought a condo nearby as an office. In the disclosures of the building was a note that the land the Creamery was sitting on was being purchased.

I did a little digging – this is what I’ve heard: A group of investors have purchased the entire block, for hundreds of millions of dollars, and will be tearing all the buildings down and putting up a massive 20 story condo complex.

Good news for people looking for housing in the area. Bad news for those of us that like to hang out at the Creamery.

Update: Yup.

20 thoughts on “They Might Be Tearing Down The Creamery To Build Condos

  1. i’m sure they can put the creamery back in after construction. just under 19 floors of residential. and they could recreate outdoor seating along the sidewalk. in fact, the developers would be smart to indear themselves to the creamery clientele, as they are likely to be purchasers of their condos

    • Michael Arrington says:

      yeah, if the owner wants to do that. Shutting down for a year plus while they build probably won’t be so good for business.

    • Karl says:

      Except now you might as well run down the street to Panera or if you can stand the lines the new Philz’. And poof everybody’s gone.

  2. Serge says:

    The entire block? You mean the entire lot?

    The parcel that Creamery sits on is a triangular lot with about 20,000SF of dirt. The ownership of properties on that block varies from small individual owners who have property in their name to various LLCs. Even the former Southern Pacific right-of-way (that curved alley) is owned by someone completely different.

    There are also no plans filed with the city, so they may only be thinking of it. They better act fast, though, since getting anything through planning will take years.

    • Michael Arrington says:

      My understanding is that three buildings were purchased from different owners. Including the HD Buttercup building, the biggest. The whole block.

      • sstepanov says:

        Must have been recently (as in, within the past month) because the tax records show different owners on title still. HD Buttercup parcel and the large triangular Creamery parcel are owned by various people. It could be that they bought that up along with the curved alley lot as well, which would complete a very large square lot (about 1.3 acres).

        Would be interesting to see what happens.

        • Michael Arrington says:

          where do you find the ownership records?

          • – You have to dig into the recorded documents.

          • sstepanov says:

            The SF planning dept property map is a good start, but won’t give you actual title information. Services such as DataQuick actually have scans of title records, loan documents, ownership transfers, etc.

          • sstepanov says:

            There are many tools, but the most detailed are usually offered through title companies to brokers (I have a background in commercial RE and am working on a startup that provides tools to brokers). Most common source is via DataQuick or RealQuest.

            Another way is to call the county’s Tax Assessor’s office, they will tell you who’s name is recorded. It’s all public record.

            If you want to look at SF properties and find out what permits, projects, or complaints have been filed you can look here:

            Click anywhere on the map and when the right bar loads, you can click on “MAP” next to a category (such as Parcels, Projects, etc) and it’ll map it out for you. Very useful tool. And free.

  3. sad. love the place. how come i have not yet seen you there

    ps: please put comment box on top of comments

  4. HSC says:

    It’s sad to see the iconic Creamery go down though it was inevitable. Love the place and the staff there.

    For the ownership records, the county or city website should have the info. For e.g.: For Seattle, King county website had this information.

  5. Sasha Pave says:

    No sense crying over spilt milk, if there’s one place that’s had a history of change, it’s SOMA. I can recall not all that long ago when the Creamery was a dairy distributor, and there was an RV park near the baseball stadium.

  6. Karl says:

    Oh well there you go. Condos replacing the places that attracted them in the first place. Nothing new. Reminds me of when I lived in Virginia Beach a few years ago. Restaurants and cottages on Shore Drive were replaced by condos, forming some sort of vinyl corridor, like the suburbs. Inevitable in parts of San Francisco as well it seems.

  7. Jerry says:

    It’s ok, the whole “startups in SF” thing is about to die anyway. As usual

  8. sjaay says:

    You can’t use a condo as an office…?

  9. Serge says:

    Mike, seems you were right about a development happening (just not the whole block):

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