If "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," the Tenderloin is going to smell exactly the same regardless of the latest realtor-fabricated renaming, in this case "Union Square West."

In press materials, real estate firm JLL writes that "A new area is taking shape, bridging the gap between the newest trade area in San Francisco, Mid-Market, with the gritty, up-and-coming Tenderloin, and it has potential to be one of the hottest retail locations in San Francisco." The customers are already there, JLL posits: "The demographic and psychographic profile of the 16 square-block area bound by Mason, Sutter, Jones, and Market, is shifting toward a consumer that loves art, design, craft cocktails and beer, live entertainment, and is eager and willing to pay premium prices for these things."

WTF is a psychographic profile? Apparently it's a thing, and this is the one for the area:

  • Metro Renters: 65% Educated professionals in their early 30s, largely white, with a median income of $52K
  • Trendsetters: 20% Single professionals in their late 30s, largely white, with median income of $51k
  • Social Security Set: 15% Late 40s, only high school diploma, diverse group with median income of $16k

    More cool names! Yes, there are youngish white yupsters in the Tenderloin, and no, the area is not as impervious to change or immune to gentrification as many are inclined to believe. But changes needn't occur overnight, and they won't just because they're willed.

    In fact, since nothing is ever new, Randy Shaw writes in Beyond Chron that "The prospect of the Tenderloin becoming an extension of Union Square reemerged in the early 1980’s. Developers proposed a “Union Square West” highrise condo project at Eddy and Taylor. Residents rose up to defeat it, and the 1985 Tenderloin rezoning barred future highrise development."

    "Rebranding" the "TL" didn't work then, and it won't now — nor should it, says Shaw. "The Tenderloin’s brand is different from Union Square’s, and it is stronger today than in the past fifty years. Those tired of chain stores and homogenous neighborhoods appreciate the grittiness, sense of history, and economic and ethnic diversity in the Tenderloin that is missing from too many now gentrified urban neighborhoods."

    Of course, plenty of those yupsters you and I might know have a fondness for referring to the Tenderloin's northern section as the Tendernob or Lower Nob Hill. That's cool, but the Tenderloin is cooler! As Katie Conry of the Tenderloin Museum puts it to KPIX 5, "[We're] trying to change people’s conceptions of the Tenderloin, not make it something different or give it a different name."

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