Northwestern San Francisco’s Financial District is home to many of the city’s most notable legacy and up-and-coming businesses. During the week, the streets are flooded with banking, insurance, finance, and tech professionals, but the neighborhood tends to become quieter on weekends. Residents get to enjoy beautiful skylines and proximity to the water as well as an environment where they can find the people, resources, and office space they need to grow.
The Financial District is San Francisco’s central business district and houses numerous corporate headquarters, law firms, insurance companies, and banks. Six Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in San Francisco, and they’re all in the Financial District: McKesson, Wells Fargo, PG&E, Gap, Charles Schwab, and Salesforce.com.
Financial District Office Space | Lease Data & Trends
In total, the San Francisco Financial District offers more than 53 million square feet of commercial office space, with nearly 11% of the space currently available for direct leasing. That rate is slightly higher than the city-wide average vacancy of just over 9%. On average, space-seekers can expect to pay $76 per square foot to rent office space in the Financial District.
However, Financial District office space varies in price depending on building class and location within the neighborhood. For example, properties in North Financial District lease at an average of $75/sqft, slightly less than the $77 South Financial District average. Class A rentals cost an average of $77.30/sqft, while Class B properties go for an average of $70/sqft. More affordable options can occasionally be found on the sublease market, in particular when a tenant has outgrown their space but has a few years remaining on their lease.
Those looking for Financial District office space tend to end up in Class A buildings, as the neighborhood houses just over 44 million total square feet of Class A inventory. The Class B inventory is limited to only about 9 million square feet.
What Our Brokers Say About Financial District
The Financial District is located in the northwestern corner of San Francisco. Like many neighborhoods in cities across the nation, the exact limits and dimensions of the Financial District are debated, especially by locals. Some locals and realtors consider the Financial District part of Downtown San Francisco, along with Union Square, a nearby iconic shopping district. Nearby neighborhoods include North Beach, Downtown, Chinatown, South of Market (SOMA), and Nob Hill.
Many Financial District residents use the San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni, bus and rail lines to get around; find several stops along Market Street. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has some stops in the district, too: Embarcadero, Montgomery, and Powell Street. The Golden Gate Ferry is nearby for those who like to travel by water—and, of course, enjoy a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Many San Francisco locals get around and get to work on foot or on bicycles, but unfortunately the city has a higher than usual rate of casualties for pedestrians and cyclists.
Those who work out of the Financial District will find no shortage of places to meet up outside the office for a meeting, lunch, or cup of coffee. Ideal restaurants for business meetings include Per Diem, Boulevard, Barcha, and Tadich Grill. Shake up your routine by scheduling a walking meeting through one of the neighborhood’s many nearby parks and gardens. Look up Yerba Buena Gardens, Sue Bierman Park, or Empire Park.
Many landmarks and interesting features in and near the Financial District help make it a popular and ideal place to run a business. Notably, many of the area’s commercial real estate buildings date back hundreds of years and serve not only as work spaces but also as beautiful landmarks and tourist destinations. For example, the Hearst Building is a famous office building wherein William Randolph Hearst operated and published the San Francisco Examiner newspaper for many years beginning in 1980. When he moved to NYC, he went to on to build the nation’s largest newspaper chain and became famous in the journalism world. The Hearst Building features historical architecture and is still used to house modern businesses.
Another famous historical office building in this neighborhood is Columbus Tower, or the Sentinel Building. The Sentinel Building’s construction finished in 1907, and it became a nightclub that featured a lot of stand up comedy. After the building changed hands a few times, it became a commercial space. American Zoetrope, a film studio co-founded by George Lucas; NPR; PBS; Pixar; and Skywalker Sound are all current tenants. The Transamerica Pyramid office building is San Francisco’s second tallest skyscraper and one of the neighborhood’s icons. Though Transamerica Corporation no longer has its headquarters there, ATEL Capital Group, Rembrandt Venture Partners, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are current tenants.
Financial District History
San Francisco enjoys a storied past. The city-county was founded in 1776 by Spanish colonists who named it after Saint Francis of Assisi. The city’s significance as a major finance center on the West Coast dates back to the California Gold Rush in the early twentieth century.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, financial institutions went bankrupt everywhere—but not in San Francisco; not a single bank in the city went under. This helped seal the Financial District’s place as the financial center of the city and an important financial leader for the whole world. In 2017, the Global Financial Centres Index designated San Francisco as the sixth most competitive financial center on the planet. Now, most of the city’s companies that work in the finance industry have their headquarters or offices in the Financial District. Some people even call the Financial District’s Montgomery Street the “Wall Street of the West.”