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SAN FRANCISCO-The 1.2-million-sf San Francisco Mart, a once-exclusive venue for design professionals and retailers to shop for wholesale home furnishings, is being remade into a mixed-use development with restaurants, retail shops and office. The transformation of the Mid-Market neighborhood’s historic landmark is being performed by ADCO, as in Alvin Dworman, a bi-coastal developer who has owned the building for 40 years.

To be called Market Square, the reinvented venue at 1355 Market St. will have approximately one million sf of office and as much as 250,000 sf of retail. Currently, the development is mostly furniture showrooms, but also includes about 200,000 sf of office and about 50,000 sf of retail.

A source with ADCO tells GlobeSt.com that the company expects to start the physical work this spring and complete the work 18 months later. ADCO says it has already begun transitioning out showrooms and support related to the industry and is working with engineers to develop plans for permitting. The cost of the project is estimated at about $35 million, not including the tenant improvements, which at $50 per sf for the 800,000 sf of new office space would more double the cost.

The impetus is competition on the business-to-business side of the home furnishings industry. With the World Market Center in Las Vegas rapidly becoming the center of the universe in terms of the wholesale home furnishings industry–the facility will boast 12 million sf when complete in 2012–the need for San Francisco Mart has lessened considerably.

“By transforming San Francisco Mart into a new [public] complex, we can ensure that this historic and valued property becomes a vibrant part of San Francisco’s future,” says SF Mart VP of operations Linda Corso, who will be working with a team of architects, engineers, consultants, and leasing advisers to realize the goal.

As well as the competition, ADCO says the Mid-Market neighborhood’s is transiting into a more bustling area. In addition to the new federal building, a housing boom has some 5,000 residents expected to move into the neighborhood in the next few years–means that a mix of public uses would better serve the neighborhood.

As part of the plan, ADCO wants to convert the street that runs between the mart’s two buildings in to a glass-covered gathering place lined with restaurants. “We want to create a campus that will become a centerpiece of the developing residential community around us,” says SF Mart GM Roseann Carini.

The project is one of two Dworman has in the works in San Francisco. On Cathedral Hill, where Dworman is a major landholder, he is looking to develop a 38-story condo tower. The tower is being designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill for 1330 Gough St. Located across from St. Mary’s cathedral, Dworman has owned that property for 40 years as well.

In New York City, Dworman is building 1,000 houses in the Bronx and a 39-story condominium tower in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. His Cathedral Hill in San Francisco is expected to be on par with his fanciest project to date, a luxury condo tower on 80th Street at Madison Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where Dworman keeps a two-story penthouse.

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