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Now that Twitter employees can work at home forever, what’s to become of its headquarters?

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The tech titan’s move into an Art Deco monolith in Mid-Market was supposed to be a symbol of change

A nine-story building at the corner of two busy streets. A signing reading “twitter” is affixed to the corner of the building.
Market Square, aka the Twitter building, at 10th and Market Streets.
Photo by Patricia Chang

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, emailed his employees Tuesday to tell them that they can work from home permanently, even after the pandemic’s shelter-in-place order ends.

“If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

According to Buzzfeed News, who broke the story, “Some jobs that require physical presence, such as maintaining servers, will still require employees to come in.”

While this is good news for Twitter’s 5,100 employees (with roughly 1,000 based in SF), who might fear coming into the office during these Covidian times, it raises the question: What’s to become of the much-ballyhooed Twitter headquarters in Mid-Market?

The social media mammoth hasn’t announced plans to vacate its Mid-Market home. When asked for details, Shorenstein Company, who owns the building, had no comment. A spokesperson for Twitter says the company has “no specific plans to share at this point” regarding moving out of its offices.

But Twitter’s decision to move into the Depression-era building, once known as the Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart, helped jumpstart a tech real estate boom, as The Information’s Cory Weinberg points out.

Built in 1937 for a mere $3 million, the Mayan-inspired, Art Deco behemoth now called Market Square (referred to locally as the Twitter Building), started life as a showroom complex for wholesalers and manufacturers of home furnishings. Its nine floors of showrooms—presenting decor such as carpets, lighting, drapery, and radios—totaled over 600,000 square feet. It expanded over the years to a whopping 1 million square feet.

Under the lure of a tax break granted by the late Mayor Ed Lee, Twitter rented the building from Shorenstein Company. Amenities added inside the renovated digs include yoga rooms, a cafeteria serving artisan fare and microbrews, a rooftop deck for employees to soak in some vitamin D, and a garden.

The move, given much ink at the time, was supposed to kickstart a neighborhood-improvement trickle down effect, which wasn’t entirely successful. Restaurants boasting Michelin-starred pedigree, like Cadence and Alta, came and went in a matter of months. Open-air drug use and visible human suffering remains a problem. At best, Twitter’s presence sparked interest in the blighted area, helping nudge new housing in the neighborhood (see: Nema and Ava). At worst, the company’s Mid-Market takeover only magnified—without solving—the city’s glaring economic gap.

Twitter’s official blog says, “With very few exceptions, offices won’t open before September. When we do decide to open offices, it also won’t be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual.” All in-person company events (conferences, holiday parties) have been canceled for the remainder of the year.