SQFT wants to change that. Pronounced "square-foot", this idea arose out of a weekend hackathon in April hosted by Creative Currency, wherein teams got together for a grueling 48-hour brainstorm session to figure out ways to make revitalizing Mid-Market a reality. SQFT co-founders Patrick, Emily, Tina and Bonnie started out as strangers, but over the course of 48 hours they found out that each of them
So what is SQFT? Simply put, it's a way to connect local entrepreneurs who need room to do their thing with underutilized retail, kitchen and event spaces. "Ideally it's a platform where a food entrepreneur who makes tamales and dreams of owning a restaurant can test it out with a space for a night or a week or a month," says Emily Eisenhart, one of SQFT's co-founders. In the long run, SQFT hopes to connect entrepreneurial renters looking for space with people who have space to spare through a seamless web experience, but for now, they're focused on making connections in the neighborhood and helping businesses like Huckleberry Bikes and De La Paz Coffee Roasters connect and work together. "Technology alone will not solve the challenges that Mid-Market faces, but it can help," says Emily. "What's key is understanding the ecosystem and forming relationships with stakeholders on the ground. There's a need to stabilize the community that's there and the efforts that are currently going on."
And if all this revitalization smacks of gentrification, take heed: SQFT says keeping existing spots in business is priority number uno. "We want to keep as many people and organizations that are already doing good work there, there," says Emily. "We're making the hiring of local labor a key part of the platform, and aim to keep activity within this community while opening it up to larger San Francisco. A guiding principle is 'gentrification without displacement.'"
Intrigued? The SQFT crew is testing out their idea with a round-the-clock pop-up corridor extraordinaire on Wednesday, August 1st with activities lasting from caffeine on your morning bike commute to your nightcap before bed. What's in store? Bike repairs by Huckleberry complete with De La Paz coffee in the morning, lunch at two different locations, an Etsy market and bongo lessons at the International Art Museum of America, a pop-up library and chess games, a yoga class and a game night with drinks, board games and giant Jenga set. It's basically an all day celebration of the Mid-Market area, so peep their Facebook event page for details and visit Mid-Market on Wednesday to claim a couple square feet of fun for yourself.