District 5 | Central

District 5 

Noe Valley, Eureka Valley, The Haight, Duboce Triangle, Clarendon Heights, Mission Dolores, Buena Vista, Corona Heights, Cole Valley, Ashbury Heights (the Castro), Glen Park

District 5 is the second most-traded district in the City. The area’s proximity to BART lines, 101/280, MUNI lines, views, parks and its warmer weather plus a mix of demographics, topographical and architectural assets combine to make this area very attractive to buyers, renters and tourists.

Cole Valley. This small tree-lined, cute and curvy corridor along the N-Judah MUNI line is comprised of lots of 2- or 3-unit buildings, single-family houses and some very large homes (3000+ sqft) that have been divided up into apartments, condos, TIC units or preserved as enormous houses that, if restored, can be quite expensive. Focused on Carl and Cole Streets the area is wedged between the Haight and UCSF’s main Parnassus campus so you’ll get a younger vibe and more renters as the area has a good number of apartment buildings. Area architecture ranges from Victorian, Edwardian, California craft with some smatters of mid-century brutalism thrown in for good measure. The area is the last enclave of central San Francisco before you hit the Sunset district. There’s a fair chance you’ll get parking (tandem) but the lack of parking may be especially pernicious because one unit may have parking while the other doesn’t. There’s less new construction. You’ll have 45 minutes less fog than the Inner Sunset. If you want character and charm, this area is for you.

Ashbury Heights Perched above Cole Valley to the west of the Castro is a clutch of larger, charming homes that are a mix of Victorian and Craftsman style with a little Art Deco thrown in. Single family homes are cute and some have been enlarged. Instead of full-flat condos you’ll find multi-unit buildings. The area can feel a little removed as it’s up a hill.  is quiet. Last to get the fog for areas west of Twin Peaks.

Duboce Triangle Centered around Duboce Park with its large dog park. This was a formerly a rough area in the 1970s that is now a much-coveted one. Charming period Victorian flats (2 or 3 to a building), mix of those elements and craft details.  There are three quiet streets: Pierce, Potomac and Carmelita that have the lure of single-family homes on cul-de-sacs. There are some large and spectacular specimens on Waller and Scott Streets too. People can hop on the N MUNI line here, get onto 101 easily or bike to mid-Market too. There are lots of bikes wiggling along the wiggle and there are trees, multiunit buildings and hidden driveways.

Buena Vista. Centered on Buena Vista Park’s large oval shape, this area is made up of 2-3 unit buildings, a very large complex called Park Hill, and, towards Buena Vista West you will see very large detached large houses, some have been split up, while others not, some with stupendous views and others with spectacular renovations.

Corona Heights. The lower parts of Corona Heights will feature multi-unit buildings but the further you go up towards Corona Heights Park the more likely you’ll encounter more houses than condos. The houses are smaller than those in Buena Vista but will have more variety. They sit on curvy, steep and narrow roads with trees. Condos tend to be mid-century if they exist. Views are likely. Be prepared for stairs and narrow floors.

The Castro (aka Eureka Valley) Traditionally an Irish neighborhood, the gays moved here in large numbers starting in the 1970s & 1980s turning the leafy neighborhood into the gayborhood. Many of the quiet wood-floored Victorians have been turned into ones worthy of catalogs; throw in some nightlife and a constant stream of new transplants all lend to create one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the City. Architecturally, there’s a good amount of variation: from carved-up Victorians that were turned into full-floor condos with some being upgraded while others still have that split-bathroom, double-parlor, oak-floor vintage feel. Chances are that you may get parking but it may be a small and tight space, have a steep driveway or is actually a leased spot elsewhere. An increasing number of houses have been restored, preserved and stunningly remodeled if not enlarged. You will find a fixer every now and when there’s one around people will fall over themselves to get it. There are also a large number of rental units that have had long-term tenants which can implicate a lot of drama if folks want to displace them. The epicenter of the neighborhood is 18th Street and Castro and/or Market and Castro Street with countless rainbow flags, bars, restaurants and the Castro Theater. It’s always a show here.

Mission Dolores This is hipster central that’s focused on the newly redone Dolores Park and palm-tree-lined Dolores Street. Sunny and warm you’ll find many a coffee shop, bike shop and hot restaurants. Prices are high. You’ll get a mix of big full-floor condos, TICs that may convert and a few single-family homes will likely cost a hefty sum even for fixers. Some new larger developments were built near Market Street that sold just a couple of years ago that are now seeing first resales for very hefty returns. The other main drags are bike-centric Valencia Street between 15th and 20th Streets, 18th St from Church to Dolores, and you’ll see lines of people waiting to get their Tartine baked goods or Bi-Rite ice cream or at Delfina and many more taco places as the area’s Hispanic heritage shines through despite gentrification pushes. You’ll see lots of tech shuttles, fixed-gear bikes, BMWs, and Vespas and charming Victorians in the middle of the Spanish Mediterranean buildings.

The Inner Mission Like Noe Valley is also focused on 24th Street, the traditionally Hispanic neighborhood has been ground central for the latest gentrification fights. What’s happening? Rental properties are being turned into TICs or razed to make way for larger market-rate condominiums for techie and professionals alike. At the same time more bike lanes are coming as are tech shuttles and protests. Inventory wise you’ll have old facade homes (split between condos/TICs and single-family homes) that have been really remodeled (quartz countertops, engineered woods, large format tile baths) that are sold as TICs as well as the fixer that is in need of substantial fixing. Therefore, you’re likely to find TICs here more than anywhere else in the City. What’s the draw? The neighborhood’s weather is warm, transit — car, shuttle or BART — is good and the neighborhood’s diversity are all draws.

Noe Valley Also an Irish neighborhood in the past, the area’s rolling hills and large 1800+ sqft Queen Anne Victorians has become home to an increasing number of large trophy homes that have been both restored and enlarged into the Noe Valley Box — luxurious 2500-4000 sqft houses pushing the $3M-$5M+ mark depending on view, amenities and proximity to 24th Street, the area’s cute main drag. Particularly focused around 24th and Noe Streets and radiating up and out, you’ll find walls of glass, modern luxurious kitchens and moving roofs in these homes — just spot the updated sans serif house numbers to see which ones have had the enlargement. But you’ll also find charming, large full-floor flats (some with upgrades). You’ll also encounter multi-unit income properties, bidding wars for the fixers on the market and everything in between. As time goes one, expect to find fewer fixers and more perfect-looking streets in the area (each is very different though) as inhabited by tech execs who could take the shuttle to work but drive their luxury hybrid cars in so as to miss the commute and the fixers that remain will have folks who’ve lived in the area for 30+ years.

Glen Park Previously an afterthought between Noe Valley, Bernal Heights and Sunnyisde and I-280, the area has come into its own as a viable alternative to Noe Valley and Bernal Heights. This area has windy streets that go around the rim of Glen Canyon (so there are some hills with narrower streets) to the “village.” The area’s draw stems from its proximity to I-280 and the appropriately named Glen Park BART. Glen Park village is essentially the intersection of Diamond and Bosworth, which has about 10-15 stores. Expect to find homeowners who bought at unbelievably low prices to the professional class with young families who have turned these eclectic homes into pragmatic, nicely redone homes with an occasional luxury home here and there. The area blends into Sunnyside and into Westwood Park as well as Mission Terrace.

Lying directly below the more popular Noe Valley neighborhood, Glen Park is a primarily residential neighborhood with a distinctly village-like vibe. To the west lies of Glen Park is the enormous Glen Canyon Park and to the north is Billy Goat Hill, with some of the best views of the city.

It might be in danger of being completely overlooked were it not for the BART station bearing its name. The few blocks to the north of the station create the quaint commercial district of the neighborhood, the streets circling past modest storefronts before wandering along rolling hills lined with older single-family homes with small yards.

Glen Park is a small residential area known for its beautiful green parks and old homes among the neighborhood hills. From modern bungalow-style homes that border the neighborhood to the more contemporary and architecturally beautiful homes further up north, families with children love this friendly neighborhood setting. 

The neighborhood is especially popular among young families priced out of Noe Valley. Boasting a good elementary school but minimal nightlife, mainly confined to the dive bar Glen Park Station and weekend jazz concerts at the local bookstore, Bird & Beckett, its slow pace is perfect for new families.

Chain stores are unpopular in Glen Park, which means that any large scale grocery shopping requires leaving the neighborhood. However, Canyon Market provides most basic necessities and there are plenty of coffee shops to choose from, as well as sweets at Destination Bakery, and gourmet pizza at Giallina. The restaurants along Glen Park’s main thoroughfares stand up to the highest quality eateries in cities across America. As a matter of fact, Rachel Ray Magazine put Gialina Pizzeria on Diamond Street on its list of top 64 pizzerias in the country.

One major disadvantage of Glen Park is its frequent foggy weather, but what it lacks in sun it makes up for in nature. Billy Goat Hill in Glen Canyon Park is a particular delight, with a swing on a cliff overlooking the neighborhood. Penny Lane, Poppy Lane, and Ohlone Way are hidden dirt roads near the heart of Glen Park ripe for a magic day of exploration.

The nightlife scene isn't as vibrant in Glen Park as in other neighborhoods in the city, which is not a bad thing. The lack of nightlife greatly contributes to its residential setting and peaceful vibe that families love. But that doesn't mean you can't find a good hangout spot. Along Diamond Street you can find a casual bar that plays sports games and music. For the art crowd, there is a local bookstore that offers poetry readings and sometimes features local authors during the evening hours.

While Glen Park isn’t known for its ritz or glamour, it has plenty of charm to offer those looking for a quiet, simple place to call home. The perfect Sunday in Glen Park would be spent in the various parks and green spaces in the neighborhood for a leisurely walk or invigorating hike. Strolling through Billy Goat Hill Park for a scenic view of the entire neighborhood or taking the kids to the playground are great outdoor activities. Afterwards, have brunch at a restaurant on Diamond Street or head over to San Jose Avenue's commuter station to catch a train ride to explore other areas of the city.

No matter who you are or what brought you to Glen Park, there’s no excuse for skipping the canyon. Glen Canyon Park is a city park that occupies about 70 acres along a deep canyon adjacent to the Glen Park, Diamond Heights, and Miraloma Park neighborhoods. The greenspace acts as a relaxing sanctuary from urban bustle for locals, visitors, and wildlife alike. An intricate network of trails is popular with hikers, dog walkers, and even rock climbers. Part of the bonus for hikers is the opportunity to munch on wild blueberries growing along the pathways. The bushes provide its bounties thanks to a creek — one of only two remaining, free flowing streams in San Francisco — that irrigates large swaths of fragrant eucalyptus trees and a sea of equally sweet-smelling flowers that bloom through the spring season.

 

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