Real Estate Today

Middle Polk and exploring micro neighborhoods

Your newest micro neighborhood: Middle Polk. photo: carol issacs

In June 2014 I wrote “Techies give birth to micro neighborhoods,” which talked about the Mastro, Baja Noe, and the Quad. Micro neighborhoods are not limited to the southern part of the city. While walking down Polk Street one day in June, new banners on the light poles caught my eye: “Welcome to Middle Polk, a village in the city.”

On a street I walk down every day, a micro neighborhood had sprung up seemingly overnight. Working with the city, the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association (MPNA) developed the banners hanging on the light posts between Broadway and California. Like all neighborhood associations, MPNA is working to both preserve and improve the neighborhood character. Middle Polk boundaries are Broadway to California and Van Ness Avenue to Leavenworth.

Today the booming economy has given Middle Polk a boost. There is new construction along the Van Ness Avenue corridor as well as a new building going up on the corner of Larkin and Clay. The residents of the Rockwell, the new high-rise development at Pine and Franklin, will begin moving into their condos in October 2016. They will certainly be shopping and dining along Middle Polk, too. Another force in the development of micro neighborhoods is the phenomenon of the corporate shuttle bus. Property values rise and neighborhood services flourish around the shuttle stops.

It is important for home buyers and sellers to consider how the development of micro neighborhoods affects them. Any positive addition to a neighborhood that sets it apart from the rest of the city is good for sellers. In marketing a property for sale, mentioning that the home is located in the Middle Polk neighborhood will help buyers understand exactly where a home is located.

One thing that can be confusing is that a micro neighborhood may have a name and loose or specific boundaries, but that does not mean that it will be possible to search for homes using that name on the internet. Middle Polk is a small area that covers the western half of Nob Hill on the San Francisco Realtors Association Map. To search online for properties for sale or rent in Middle Polk, you will need to search for “Nob Hill.”

Micro neighborhoods honing their identities is good for merchants and existing residents. However, for buyers looking to find a home in today’s market, focusing on a few square blocks can turn finding a home from difficult to impossible. Middle Polk may be a buyer’s dream, but casting a wider net that includes downtown, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, the Van Ness Avenue corridor, Cow Hollow, the Marina, and the Northside in general will give a buyer a greater chance of successfully buying a home.

The wonderful thing about living in San Francisco is that there are both distinct neighborhoods and micro neighborhoods. At the moment you might think the only place for you is the Northside of San Francisco. You may be surprised to find there are San Francisco neighborhoods that are not only more affordable, but that might be better suited to your personality.

August is the perfect time to explore other possibilities. Housing inventory is so low you won’t need to spend your whole weekend checking out the new listings just in your neighborhood. Take a list of open homes with you and enjoy an afternoon adventure. Go across town, walk around a neighborhood and have coffee or lunch in a cafe or restaurant. There are many choices. You may be familiar with the Mission, Noe Valley, Glen Park or Bernal Heights, as these neighborhoods are often in the news. Other neighborhoods that are not as well known are the Excelsior, Outer Mission, and Sunnyside. In the western part of the city there is the Richmond and the Sunset. It is not unheard-of to find that a new buyer looking on the Northside has never heard of West Portal or the Excelsior, let alone set foot there. All of the neighborhoods I mentioned here are only a few miles from the Northside.

As apartment and condo buildings are built and the tech shuttles bring more people to neighborhoods all around town, new micro neighborhoods are developing. If you don’t ride a corporate shuttle to work and have no idea of where they stop, please contact me and I will e-mail the shuttle stop maps for Ebay, Facebook, Genentech, Google, and Yahoo.

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Carole Isaacs is a Realtor with McGuire Real Estate, where she is a Top Producer. Follow her on Twitter @CaroleIsaacs or visit her online at or call 415-608-1267.