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SAN FRANCISCO-No place in the US is exempt from the economic woes gripping the nation, but this city is uniquely positioned to weather the storm, according to speakers at the third annual RealShare San Francisco commercial real estate conference and networking event. A combination of the city’s geography, its economy and other factors have enabled it to thus far “dodge the bullet,” noted one speaker at the conference, although it remains to be seen how the city and environs will fare as the continuing credit crunch plays out.

The city’s combination of strong technology and tourism sectors will ensure that San Francisco will continue to be an attractive place to live and to do business, the speakers pointed out, meaning that the Bay Area is uniquely positioned to recover from the economic downturn faster than other parts of the country. San Francisco “has really dodged the bullet so far in terms of the housing market-driven downturn in the rest of the state,” said Ted Egan, a chief economist with the City and County of San Francisco, who pointed out that some economic indicators–such as unemployment–have nonetheless showed signs of weakening lately.

Presentations by Egan and Michael Cohen, director of the San Francisco Office of Economic and Work Force Development, kicked off the RealShare conference, which included presentations and panels on the full spectrum of commercial real estate concerns−from brokerage and development to financing and the outlook for investments in all property sectors. The RealShare event drew nearly 300 registrants to the venue at the Hyatt Regency. Daniel Ceniceros, vice president of regional publications for Incisive Media, tells GlobeSt.com that attendance was up this yearcontinuing the trend of higher attendance at all RealShare events in 2008.

Egan said that San Francisco’s unemployment rate has risen to 5.9%, up one percentage point from a year ago, but he added: “We think that is because of unemployed people from elsewhere in the state moving to San Francico because we have a pretty healthy economy and they are looking for jobs here.” According to Egan, San Francisco enjoys a very positive long-term outlook with respect to real estate. “There really is no city in the US that is better positioned for the long-term than San Francisco,” he said. “Our incomes are high and will remain so; Our consumer credit quality is excellent, we have been underbuilding housing for decades and we are relatively insulated from the long-term housing prices decline. We can debate how much the San Francisco housing prices are going to correct, but for the long term, San Francisco is a good investment.”

Cohen pointed out that despite San Francisco’s being a mature city, much land available for development in former industrial areas and places like Treasure Island, a former US Navy base. He pointed to the example of Mission Bay, a former abandoned railyard that is now a mixed-use residential and commercial development.

During a Town Hall Meeting on the state of the San Francisco Bay Area market, a panel moderated by Ken Kecskes, a partner at the law firm ofHolland & Knight, echoed some of Egan’s comments and elaborated on the reasons that San Francisco enjoys a unique position both now and as the US economic drama unfolds. “The combination of the strong technology backbone, strong tourism and the incredible quality of life here means that San Francisco will continue to be an attractive place to live and to do business,” commented panelist Carl Shannon, a managing director at Tishman Speyer. Other panelists cited the high barriers to entry and difficult entitlement process that have restrained the supply pipeline for commercial space–something of an irony in that developers often complain about those very factors. One panelist noted that San Francisco is typically one of the last parts of the country to enter a recession and one of the first to recover.

The presentations by the San Francisco officials and the Town Hall Meeting were part of a RealShare schedule that included sessions on the impact of economic changes on the investment market, the outlook for all of the commercial and multifamily property sectors, the capital markets, specific geographic submarkets and the outlook for development, including green building initiatives.

RealShare San Franciso is one in an annual schedule of RealShare events that are produced by Incisive Media, which is the publisher of GlobeSt.com, Real Estate Forum magazine, Real Estate Southern California magazine and a host of other offerings. Incisive Media is a leading provider of specialist business information for commercial real estate, legal, financial services, risk management and marketing professionals.

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