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Tenderloin May Be 'Union Square West' Of The Future

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A real estate firm suggests a new name for part of San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood could make it more appealing.

The plan would be to revamp the area between Mason, Sutter, Jones, and Market Streets, and turn it into Union Square West.

It's the driving force behind many story lines in San Francisco right now.

"It's impacting everybody whether you own a business rent an apartment or want to buy a house it's going to be expensive," Amber Shiada, Director of Research for JLL said.

JLL is a real-estate firm studying the changing market, where even big name retailers like Ralph Lauren and Crate & Barrel no longer want to pay for space in Union Square.

So, they're looking west to the Tenderloin, an area known for its gritty exterior.

The research suggests calling this area Union Square West will alter that perception.

"That's not something we would support in some ways were trying to change people's conceptions of the tenderloin not make it something different or give it a different name," Katie Conry of the Tenderloin Museum said.

Conry says the museum is a business built on defending and preserving this neighborhood, and what it means to the city.

"I think there's been a long history of the Tenderloin being a welcome area for people that don't fit into society's main stream," she said.

Barry Lai owns Space 236, a gallery in the Tenderloin which exhibits artwork by and about the people here.

Of course, he too can no longer afford rent and will close in November. Lai worries about brand name stores taking over his creative space.

"As soon as we remove the arts and any type of cultural program the city gets stripped away slowly from what it's once known as, the charm, right? And we don't want to lose that."

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