50 Fremont Plaza

Salesforce.com is planning to convert 13,000 square feet of existing office and restaurant space on the first and second floors of their tower at 50 Fremont Street into a childcare center for up to 125 children of Salesforce employees.

And as a plugged-in tipster notes, the plans include converting 8,900 square feet of the building’s publicly accessible open space [see UPDATE below] into fenced-in private outdoor play areas for the children, including the current 7,500-square-foot plaza which fronts First Street, as pictured above and rendered below.

Around 1,400 square feet of 50 Fremont’s mid-block passageway, which connects the plaza to Mission Street, would be fenced and converted into a private play area as well.

SFDC 50 Fremont Plan Side Plaza

If approved, construction would happen in two phases, with Phase One focused on the first floor improvements and slated to last four months.

UPDATE and CORRECTION: While 50 Fremont’s plaza and passageways are publicly accessible open spaces, they’re technically not Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) having predated the current POPOS law.

43 thoughts on “Salesforce Planning to Privatize Plaza for Childcare Center”
  1. The loss of POPOS has to be compensated by Salesforce providing an equal nearby amount of POPOS. Plain and simple.

    This location is one of the rare open spaces downtown. To eliminate it absurd. Its not like any of the new buildings have POPOS. Gee, let’s make the Chevron Gardens private.

    I hope this has to go before the Board of Supes, I’ve given up on planning. And if it does? Well maybe Peskin’s election will prove a Godsend.

    [Editor’s Note: See UPDATE above or below.]

  2. This almost feels like an Onion article. My wife and I frequented that space in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s for brown bag lunches. It is one of the few POPOS that is sunny most of the day. It is also a major thoroughfare for people walking to and from adjacent office buildings. It will be shocking if this is allowed to go through.

    [Editor’s Note: See UPDATE above or below.]

    1. I worked in an adjacent office building and often had lunch here. It was great. Closing it off would be a travesty. I also agree about the major thoroughfare issue. It was a handy way to access the office buildings.

  3. The mid-block passage that extends to Market St is part of 450 Mission, not 50 Fremont. The passageway in the last rendering extends to Fremont St. I doubt this proposal would affect the 450 Mission passageway.

    1st Street, next to this plaza, is the road shown in the first picture. It gets a huge flow of traffic, as it is the main road from the FiDi to the Bay Bridge eastbound. Traffic routinely backs up and dwells here, sometimes as early as 3 PM. The traffic is forecast to get worse because of the 2nd St project next year. Even now, that plaza is not a place I would want kids in the mid or late afternoon.

    1. The mid-block passage that extends to Market St is part of 450 Mission, not 50 Fremont. The passageway in the last rendering extends to Fremont St. I doubt this proposal would affect the 450 Mission passageway.

      That’s incorrect. The passageway in the last rendering above is part of the 50 Fremont parcel and extends to Mission Street (between 50 Fremont and 450 Mission), as reported.

      1. Yeah, they might be planning to build into the little dogleg area behind 75 1st St, but I doubt the actual road surface of the alley between 450 Mission and 50 Fremont will be narrowed. It is barely wide enough for the delivery trucks to 450 Mission as is. And they need the full length because of the location of the access door. That’s where the Walgreens gets deliveries. The rendering looks like Salesforce may try to wall-off some of the very narrow sidewalk there, but otherwise I still doubt this will affect the alley between 450 Mission and 50 Fremont, which is the passageway to Mission.

        [Editor’s Note: Note the Walgreens’ truck in the rendering above, which is, in fact, the current passageway between 450 Mission and 50 Fremont.]

  4. No Salesforce, you do not get to commandeer privately owned public spaces for your own use, even for employee children.

    I think this is nothing more than a trial balloon to see how much resistance City government will raise. Saleforce appears to be tone-deaf; and the proposal will meet overwhelming civic resistance.

    [Editor’s Note: See UPDATE above or below.]

  5. UPDATE and CORRECTION: While 50 Fremont’s plaza and passageways are publicly accessible open spaces, they’re technically not Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) having predated the current POPOS law.

    1. So they aren’t covered under the law and Salesforce has more, or less room to change the use of these spaces and cut off access? That is still unclear to me.

    1. A current member of the Planning Commission was an executive with Salesforce. Check out Dennis Richard’s linkedin page for the details.

    2. Benioff scares you because he donated $100mm to build a new children’s hospital for the city?

      And this is his pay-for-play privilege, I suppose. Using a fraction of an empty ‘public’ corridor space to provide a place for child care? On the scale of problems we have in San Francisco, this ranks with the imagery on Starbucks coffee cups in terms of first-worldliness.

      1. i hope this gets approved. Saleforce is a major job creator, as well as Benioff and employees give a lot of money and volunteer time to needed areas. they should be rewarded

  6. So it appears Salesforce can do this under the governing laws, and imho this is a good move. Child care is in short supply in SF, particularly in the financial district.

    My understanding is that the govt requires child care space to be on the ground floor (in case the need for an emergency evacuation) so this is how it needs to be done. Kudos for a nice option for employees with small kids. I’ve tried hard to get my firm to offer something like this (would have been great when my kids were little), but it’s never worked because of the strict rules on child care facilities.

  7. More dead space on the weekends and after 5pm guaranteed with these changes in uses. They cannot help make a great place for kids and daycare on one of the office building floors?

    The ground floor uses can enliven or kill a neighborhood. Fenced off and blocked, removal of ground floor retail = Dead area by design. SoMa’s long uninterrupted blocks need these pedestrian passageways.

  8. It is unfortunate that a child care proposed use would get so many complaints. Most people that have kids have challenges with day care. I don’t see any problem with using this space for kids.

    1. But you know who have kids? Young people! They’re the worst! Emblematic of all the terrible ways this city is changing from when i first moved here!

      But seriously, we do need more fidi childcare options!

  9. Good. This tells me that Salesforce is willing to hire those employees with families and children or is trying to attract talent with those criteria. Good childcare is notoriously difficult to find in SF, not to mention expensive. What is the alternative? Hiring singles only without any hope for a family in the future? Having a good stable workforce means better neighborhoods.

  10. A false dichotomy is being presented by some here. IMO.

    Yes, there is a need for day care but also a need for public open space downtown. One does not preclude the other. One should not be done at the expense of the other. That is a false Hobson’s choice.

    It goes back to a planning code that does not require public open space anymore. Or allows a “porch” on the 20th floor to so qualify.

    In the day – think the great open spaces, Chevron gardens, the Transamerica Pyramid park. You know the drill.

    This would be a net loss of pubic open space. If the Salesforce chief exec is so committed to the City surely he can cough up “chump change” – for him anyway – to provide compensation for the loss of a spot. I did lunch there a lot a decade ago. Have not been there since as my job was moved to the East Bay. But this spot was then and is still, I am sure, precious for those who frequent it every day.

  11. Call Mark Luellen at 415-558-6478 in the planning department to leave comments. We can stop this irreversible loss and conversion of valuable open public space to private use!

    1. i just left a VM telling him that I adamantly support this change to private space. I also told him Daniel Egerter referred me.

    2. I will call right away and tell them I support this conversion. You have a little mind to not understand brining jobs to this city is the single most important thing that can be done to fund all [the] programs that you want to do.

  12. One single biggest reason women are under represented in tech (any workplace for that matter) is the lack of access to quality affordable child care. BRAVO Salesforce for stepping up and doing this along with investing millions in making sure all your female employees have equal pay.

    Unfortunately the san Francisco professional NIMBYs are already sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches, because its more important that you provide them a place to eat their sandwich than childcare for working parents. This city really is EFFED UP.

  13. This would be a shocking loss of public space that is used every day by many people. There is a farmers market there once a week and it is used daily by those of us who bring lunch to work and want to enjoy the sunshine (or fog.). There are also affordable restaurants there.

    It’s a false choice to say we have to close our public spaces so that there can be day care. Salesforce is rich enough to come up with other solutions that don’t turn downtown spaces into private spaces. Isn’t it providing day care somewhere else now?

    1. As someone pointed out above, there will soon be a huge, multi-block green park atop the World’s Most Expensive Bus Station, just one block away from here. And this space apparently was not ever actually “public.”

      Not sure why you assume SF is “providing day care somewhere else now,” as most companies do not. And there is an obvious advantage to parent-employees to have the childcare onsite.


      Drowning children on Greek beaches is shocking. A concrete sunken plaza being converted to a child care facility is not shocking.

  14. OK, so it’s not officially POPUS under the later law. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an ad hoc informal or even formal quid pro quo for getting approval. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be allowed to change the use.

    1. Exactly! Someone should go back and look at the proposals to allow this building. I have little doubt the “public amenities” were a factor.

  15. Please do! It will have as little effect as my call did other than to vent the concern of someone who owns and resides in a neighboring building (not just there during the day) and is sad to lose access to a beautiful plaza that I have enjoyed for many years. I wish for you that you don’t have to see that happen where you live.

    Of course child care is important, but with some creativity certainly both needs could be satisfied. It need not be a zero-sum proposition — good urban planning seeks to accomplish that. And good citizens politely respect each other’s needs and priorities.

  16. PUT AWAY YOUR NUMBY PITCHFORKS!!!! This is not a Privately Owned Public Open Space. the building permit was not conditional on keeping that space public, it was just designed that way, and you have been allowed to eat your lunch there by the owner’s good graces, and now the building owner wants to change the design. Tough cookies. I’m happy for the kids.

  17. Seems to be a lot more mockery of comments that people disagree with on this site lately. This *was* one of the few sites with comments worth reading and I’d hate to lose that.

    1. So would we, but as our audience continues to grow (we reached over half a million individuals last year) we’ll continue to attract a greater spectrum of thoughts and opinions.

      We’re working on a couple of ways to ensure that the comment quality remains high, but keep in mind that real estate and development are rather charged subjects at the moment with plenty of emotion attached.

      All that being said, leading by example tends to have the greatest impact with respect to commenting. And as always, thank you for plugging in.

  18. One thing to remember is that childcare sites, to be permitted as I understand it, must be both ground-level (for emergencies/evacuation) and have a certain number of sqft of outdoor space per child.

    So this ground-level space can be used for childcare, and the public space can be replaced by the future-opening public spaces/green spaces on top of many parts of Transbay.

    I fully support this. I think the city needs more childcare, and I think that companies should be supporting initiatives like this to further encourage both women in the workplace and both mothers and fathers to spend as much time with their child as possible despite work commitments.

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