City leaders, arts organizations and community groups today celebrated the grand opening of Brookfield Properties’ transformative 5M mixed-use cultural arts district with ceremonies at The Parks at 5M, downtown San Francisco’s newest park.
“I am so excited to open 5M just as we are seeing more residents, workers, and visitors coming together as our City bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “From affordable housing to new outdoor space and cultural programming, this community-led project addresses a wide range of neighborhood needs that for too long have been neglected. I want to thank Brookfield Properties and the entire SoMa community for their continued work and commitment to the future of this neighborhood.”
Since 5M’s groundbreaking in 2019, the billion-dollar development has transitioned four acres of underutilized parking lots in the SoMa neighborhood at 5th, Mission and Howard streets into a pedestrian oriented hub of creativity, commerce, and community. Developer Brookfield Properties has completed construction of the 25-story 415 Natoma office building, The George apartment building with 302 rental units, and The Parks at 5M. Additionally, two historic buildings were restored; the Camelline Building that is earmarked for retail and nonprofit uses and the Dempster Building, which Brookfield Properties donated to CAST (Community Arts Stabilization Trust) for arts and cultural uses.
The grand opening celebration marked the completion of construction of Brookfield Properties’ components and the opening of The Parks at 5M to the public.
Community Programming Begins this Spring at The Parks at 5M
A major community benefit is the new $20 million privately-owned public park that features a performance area, undulating landscaped knolls patterned after Northern California landscapes, a children’s playground, and a dog run framed by the new and historic buildings. Two striking 30-foot-tall 3-dimensional sinuous steel canopies serve a dual purpose as works of art and to calm breezes. The Parks at 5M are the City’s largest ground-level privately-owned public open space (POPOS) at 26,100 sq. ft. — nearly the size of six basketball courts. Brookfield is providing security on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Beginning this spring, community programming for the Parks at 5M will feature a mix of events, performances, art and food curated by Brookfield Properties, arts and cultural nonprofits and other innovators such as CAST, Kultivate Labs and, Off the Grid. Film screenings, performance art, dance and fitness classes, live music, art exhibits, and Filipino cultural celebrations are among the activities being planned.
“The Parks at 5M help fulfill a civic need for more open spaces in the neighborhood for residents to play, socialize and celebrate,” said San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents this area of SoMa. “The diversity of offerings and opportunities here created a special place that benefits people of all ages and backgrounds.”
“5M underscores our commitment to the neighborhood and our belief in how melding creativity, cultural arts and commerce in unique ways builds stronger communities,” said Swathi Bonda, Sr. Director, Development for Brookfield Properties. “It is a place that binds us together to relax, have fun, learn and work — grounded in programming for the arts, music and cultural activities.”
Bonda said that new tenants, programming and residents will bring energy to the site. The Dempster Building at 447 Minna Street is home to arts nonprofits PUSH Dance Co. and Women’s Audio Mission. The Dempster Building also has a floor for Pop Up Art projects and a black-box theater. Thumbtack, the modern home management platform, recently signed a lease at 415 Natoma and residents are moving into The George. Brookfield Properties said that it expects to announce new leases involving food, nonprofits and local retailers in the near future.
Today’s ceremony featured a ribbon cutting and performance by PUSH Dance Co.
“Arts and culture play a central role in preserving the fabric of a neighborhood,” said CAST CEO Moy Eng. “CAST is pleased to be partnering with Brookfield in this effort to secure and steward a cultural space where artists and creatives can continue to thrive in SoMa. Arts and culture organizations—groups like Women’s Audio Mission and PUSH Dance—are so essential to our city because they’re pushing the boundaries of creativity and equity while also creating community cohesion. At 447 Minna, we want to ensure artists have a place to grow within the community, to interact with local residents, and add to the neighborhood vitality as a whole.”
The unique configuration of 5M’s parks and buildings are designed to bring people together in an exchange of ideas. The expansive lobbies for 415 Natoma office building and The George open to the parks to promote lively street level interaction.
“5M is inspired by SoMa and its network of alleys, 5M’s design weaves together a tapestry of neighborhood history, arts, and business with new public space at the center,” said SITELAB urban studio Principal Laura Crescimano, which partnered on the master planning for 5M.
The 415 Natoma 640,000-square-foot Class A office building features a “hospitality-driven” wall-less lobby with curated retail, food and beverage options; large floor plates; and over 27,000 square feet of outdoor terraces. The building was designed by renowned architect KPF.
“415 Natoma welcomes the public at its base with an open lobby, integrating seamlessly into the ground plane. The layered and split massing of the towers addresses the surrounding built context with a façade that employs a variety of textures, patterns, and colors,” said Trent Tesch, AIA, KPF Design Principal.
Brookfield Properties began leasing units at The George in January. The new 20-story rental apartment building features 302 apartments, including 211 market rate and 91 BMR middle-income homes. The George has the highest percentage of middle income BMR units on site in City history. It features a double-height public lobby with integrated retail and co-working library; artwork in common areas by local women, BIPOC artists and other artists; 24/7 concierge service; a 16th-floor rentable clubroom and open-air amenity deck with sweeping views of Potrero Hill and the San Francisco Bay; state-of-the-art fitness studio; and much more. More than 4,600 SF of retail is planned in a cafe zone along pedestrian-only paseo on North Mary Street.
Overall, 5M will create approximately 856 total new residential units onsite and in the neighborhood, including 245 affordable residential units for middle-income households, seniors and formerly homeless families.
Brookfield Properties worked with exceptional organizations to advance the project during the pandemic. In addition to KPF and SITELAB, !melk and Cliff Lowe Associates designed the open spaces at 5M. The George residential building is designed by architectural firm Ankrom Moisan and constructed by Build Group Inc. Architectural Resources Group led the rehabilitation of the historic Dempster Building. For the 415 Natoma office building, House & Robertson Architects is the executive architect and Swinerton Builders constructed the building.
The long awaited 5M project, located on a 4-acre site in Downtown San Francisco, has been reimagined as a new vibrant and truly mixed-use place for the community. SITELAB’s public realm planning efforts included developing the programming and urban design plan for the project, to find a balance between traditional downtown space and the culturally rich, eclectic neighborhood that is SoMa. The plan emphasizes and repurposes the characteristic alleyways of SoMa to connect retail, arts, and the new public spaces at grade and on the Chronicle rooftop. As we continue to think about space and community post-pandemic, 5M is a prime example of what a truly mixed-use, accessible and vibrant neighborhood can look like when linked to the surrounding community.