Now another rebranding of a SF neighborhood has set people’s heads ablaze as “Van Mission”—formerly and unofficially known as “the Hub,” located at the border of Mid-Market, SoMa, and the Mission—is poised to be the next neighborhood name everyone loves to loathe.
The freshly minted moniker sprang forth from the three holy hierarchs of San Francisco: a project manager for an apartment tower, a restaurateur, and an executive from a luxury fitness company.
“A year ago, Joe Walsh, the project manager for the Fifteen Fifty apartment tower, stood on the northeast corner of Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue with his first two tenants, Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole and Jeff Weinhaus of Equinox,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “They were trying to figure out what neighborhood they were standing in, but nobody could come up with an answer. So right there, in that huddle on that corner on that day, San Francisco’s newest neighborhood was invented: Van Mission.”
And just like that, Van Mission, a combination of “Van Ness” and “Mission District,” was born. Church bells chimed. A dove soared. A newborn cooed. But it wasn’t until the name appeared in the brochure of Fifteen Fifty, the new luxury high-rise set to open this spring, that it furrowed brows.
“‘I live in the Van Mission’—words that should never be uttered,” tweeted design writer and housing activist Allison Arieff. And Ellen Fort, food editor of Sunset Magazine, asked incredulously, “What is going on here?!”
The good news is that San Francisco has a history of neighborhood names that never stuck (remember SOMISSPO?) or did adhere but then vanished entirely (Happy Valley and Butchertown, just to name two). But some newfangled names, like NoPa, do. Only time and denizens’ willingness will decide if Van Mission lives to see another day.
Also keep in mind that Van Mission is just a name that a developer had in mind. Neighborhoods with official Community Benefit District designation, like the aforementioned East Cut, tend to have stronger staying power.