Pinterest sets sights on Western SoMa space


High tech golden child Pinterest triggered holy hell last summer when they announced their intention to move into the Design Center at Showplace Square, displacing dozens of fancy craft businesses and sending shivers throughout the rest of the PDR zoned properties in the area. So much so that Mayoral-loyalist Supervisor Malia Cohen even brandished a set of interim controls that were far from developer-friendly.

Barely a whimper was heard last week when Pinterest redirected their interest to 651 Brannan Street, a former industrial building several blocks away that was given office permissions back in the ‘90s when former Zoning Administrator Larry Badiner was giving away such valuable exemptions as freely as Halloween candy. 

The site currently houses Modcloth, described as an American online retailer specializing in vintage and indie clothing, accessories and decor and, until recently, Eventbrite. Pinterest will lease more than 100,000 square feet of space, far less than the 250,000 square feet of space anticipated at the Showplace Square location, and company spokesperson ominously added, “We’ll continue to look for space to meet the needs of the growing company.”

Former Berkeley Planning Commissioner Zelda Bronstein writes, “Of course I had to find out if that property had been illegally converted to offices–and it had–way back in the 90s. There’s even a permit for demolishing the loading dock. Never went through the Planning Commission, of course.”

Land use attorney Sue Hestor promises to find enough time soon to take an interest in how much money the city has lost over the years based on the industrial valuation of the property and how many fees have been skipped since Badiner initiated the sweetheart deal.


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