Ask any San Francisco manufacturer about their greatest challenges and sure to top the list is finding affordable real estate. That’s why SFMade and its sister organization PlaceMade opened the Manufacturing Foundry at 150 Hooper in 2018. Located in the city’s Design District at the intersection of West SOMA and Mission Bay, the facility is San Francisco’s first, permanently affordable, multi-tenant building dedicated to manufacturing and creating quality jobs for low-income residents. It comprises four floors and has more than 50,000 square feet of manufacturing space, with units ranging from 1,000 to 12,700 square feet.

In the past three years, more than a dozen small manufacturers have been able to remain in San Francisco by becoming tenants of 150 Hooper, sustaining more than 90 jobs. Current tenants range from a distillery to an apparel production company to a robotics start-up.

Two of the newest tenants of 150 Hooper are Joshu+Vela and 7 Dwarfs Robotics.

Before the pandemic began Noah Guy, owner of Joshu+Vela, made sustainable bags and leather goods from his workshop and retail store in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. Assaf Pashut, owner of 7 Dwarfs, has his hands full serving lunch to throngs of students and tech workers at his three Flying Falafel restaurants in Berkeley and San Francisco.

Both Guy and Pashut saw business fall off a cliff when stay-at-home orders went into effect in March 2020. Demand for bags and travel accessories, which Guy had been manufacturing for a decade, took a nosedive. He stayed afloat by making masks during the early months of the pandemic and is now preparing to launch a new product line with a new creative direction.

Demand at Flying Falafel’s mid-Market and Financial District restaurants dried up when everyone started working from home, forcing Pashut to close the doors to his San Francisco outposts (his Berkeley location is still open). He decided to shift away from food service altogether to launch 7 Dwarfs Robotics to pursue his lifelong dream of building a fully robotic kitchen.

For both Guy and Pashut it’s been a year of making lemonade out of lemons, with one positive transition being their move to 150 Hooper. Owners of two very different types of manufacturing businesses, they both say being tenants at 150 Hooper works brilliantly for them.

Guy said he appreciates the design of the space, with concrete floors, electrical outlets in all the right places, and lots of natural sunlight. At his previous location on 16th near Valencia Street, he spent $100,000 customizing the space only to have it nearly destroyed by leaks and other damage caused by the poorly maintained residential hotel above it.

“We spent so much money modifying our previous place, and it’s wonderful to not have to do that at 150 Hooper,” said Guy. “It’s a huge benefit for people starting out in business who are not thinking about all of those details. Everything is already thought through, so it’s easy to move in and get set up.”

Perhaps most importantly, Guy is grateful that the affordable rent allowed him to keep his business in San Francisco, where both of his employees live. He had been looking to buy in the East Bay where property is less expensive, but his employees did not want to relocate.

“I realized that buying a space to manufacture in San Francisco was just an insane pipe dream,” said Guy. “I had heard about 150 Hooper, so I decided to call SFMade to see if there was space available.”

Fortunately, there was, and Guy moved Joshu+Vela to 150 Hooper in September 2020.

Pashut found his way to 150 Hooper through his connection to Humanmade, a nonprofit partner to SFMade and fellow tenant of the building. Humanmade is a state-of-the-art open-access design, fabrication, and prototyping facility equipped with complete wood and metal shops, laser and 3D printing areas, and industrial sewing and electronics stations. The facility includes dedicated co-making spaces, huge project areas, large worktables, and access to computer workstations installed with design and fabrication software.

A lifelong maker, Pashut had attended a meet-up at Humanmade before the pandemic began. When it came time to start building his robotic kitchen, he returned to take advantage of the lab space and equipment.

“I started working out of Humanmade, and it quickly became too small for my company of five employees,” said Pashut. “That’s when we found a space of our own on the second floor.”

Although 7 Dwarfs has some of its own equipment, Pashut and his team continue to use Humanmade’s 3D printers as well as the machines that cut stainless steel.

“It’s a huge perk to have Humanmade in the same building,” Pashut said.

Other benefits of being located at 150 Hooper include the transit-friendly location, indoor bike parking, a truck-accessible breezeway, and 24-hour access. Tenants also have access to a two-bay loading dock. Plus, in addition to Humanmade, both SFMade and PlaceMade are headquartered there.

“150 Hooper is a terrific facility—it’s been a huge catalyst in our progress,” said Pashut. “I could not have dreamed of a better office space.

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Looking for a new manufacturing space?
The Manufacturing Foundry at 150 Hooper currently has two available spaces for lease:

  • Unit 211 (second floor): 3,241 square feet usable space, 1,166 square feet common area space equaling 4,407 rentable space .
  • Unit 311 (third floor): 4,695 square feet usable space, 1,690 square feet common area space equaling 6,385 rentable space.

More information at https://150hooper.org/spaces.html

Interested? Contact Johnny Jaramillo at PlaceMade: [email protected]org