Located in the heart of one of San Francisco’s most notorious neighborhoods, the Tenderloin, our global headquarters at 1019 Market Street has been a historic beacon of the economic ebbs and flows of the city.
Originally built in 1909, the six-story, 75,523-square foot building that Zendesk San Francisco calls home was originally the headquarters of Eastern Outfitting Co. The furniture and carpet store was described as “one of the handsomest store buildings in the west,” by the San Francisco Call, one of San Francisco’s original newspapers. This historic milestone is the reason why it says “Furniture and Carpets” at the top of our building instead of Zendesk.
The Early Years
When 1019 Market made its architectural debut to the world it was thanks to the vision of architect George Adrian Applegarth, who was known for his Beaux-Arts style and elegant symmetry in his designs. The building was immediately embraced as iconic and symbolic of what can only be described as the Golden Age of Market Street and the main artery of hustle and bustle. The building later became home to the Union Furniture Store in the late 1940s, continuing on as a symbol of prosperity along Market Street, when it was the major retail district for the city (thus being named “Market Street,”). It was also at the center of what was then San Francisco’s burgeoning theater district and center of culture for San Francisco’s well-heeled.
Changes over the years
Later years, were less kind to 1019 and our little section of Market Street. Sweatshops and garment manufacturers eventually replaced the elegant furniture stores, giving the building more grit than glam. During the 1960s when hippies and psychedelics became the resounding cultural force in San Francisco, Market Street’s character changed in tandem. In 1968, the Herzstein Family Trust purchased the building and rented it out to various commercial tenants and artists. In 2000, in the midst of the dot com era, the Herzsteins made necessary renovations to bring the building up to seismic safety code and intended to find a startup tenant. However, when the tech bubble burst in 2001, the family abandoned this idea and refilled the offices with a variety of different businesses.
While the building remained consistently occupied, it had lost the luster of its former years, as did much of the swath of Market Street stretching between 5th and 11th streets. Construction of the city’s subway system, BART, in the 1980s, also piled on a steady amount of blight to the neighborhood. And this is the cloak this section of Market Street has wrestled with ever since.
Enter 2014: Zendesk moves in
When the current tech boom hit San Francisco around 2012, real estate investors Cannae Partners and their financial collaborators purchased 1019 Market Street from the Herzstein Family with the intention of turning it into a space for creative and tech ventures. Twitter had moved just down the street, locating its headquarters along Market Street a few blocks away. And Square and Uber were not far behind, also openings headquarters on Market Street as well. A new era was dawning along Market Street and developers were rolling their dice.
Cannae Partners described the building in its pre-renovated state as being “ridden pretty hard over the last 40 years.” The investors spent around $12 million in renovations, which included cleaning off a ceiling littered with pigeon carcasses, erasing graffiti, and disposing of heaping piles of trash. (Though we admittedly did keep some smatterings of graffiti that had been left behind by earlier “tenants.” They make for a fun little Easter Egg hunt around the office.)
It took 10 months to fully renovate 1019 Market Street but Balfour Beatty, the infrastructure and construction group that helped spearhead the building’s renovations, preserved 90 percent of the building original façade. During the massive overhaul, Cannae Partners came across an old postcard of the building aglow in its original exterior lighting structure that its architect Applegarth had bestowed upon the building. 1019 Market’s majestic series of bay window frames had been equipped with 700 light bulbs, a high-tech innovation for the time period. But it had been decades since they illuminated Market street.
“We thought to ourselves, 'wouldn’t it be cool to reignite those lights and maybe signify a rebirth on Market?'" according to a spokesperson from Cannae Partners. And so, as a part of the building’s transformation, the developers decided to reactivate the lighting system with LED lights, once again illuminating the historic Furniture and Carpet building.
While it is mainly tech tenants seen as signaling yet again a new era for Market Street, the situation is delicate. Cost of living in San Francisco continues to soar and tech, for many, is seen as one of the complex root causes. Which is why it’s been incredibly important for us as a company be neighbors to those families, businesses, and community leaders in the Tenderloin and along Market Street that far precede our tenancy here. While we hope to herald a new era of prosperity for this section of Market Street, we hope it is a prosperity for everyone and will continue to do what we can to make it so.