Cole Valley a Quintessential San Francisco Neighborhood With Charming ‘Main Street’

San Francisco's Cole Valley neighborhood

The corner of Carl and Cole streets in Cole Valley.

With its old-fashioned “Main Street,” lovely cafes and restaurants, and proximity to public transit, Haight Street, and Golden Gate Park, Cole Valley has become a sought-after San Francisco neighborhood.

“Cole Valley’s draw is that it’s quintessential San Francisco,” said Patrick Barber, president of Pacific Union’s San Francisco region. “You’ve got single-family homes and small buildings that really afford a true San Francisco neighborhood charm and feel.”

The sound of Muni’s N-Judah train rattling along Carl Street is a neighborhood fixture – and the train itself makes commuting to downtown via public transit a snap. A number of buses, including the 43 Masonic, 6 Parnassus, and 37 Corbett, also service the neighborhood.

Cole Valley and surrounding residential areas Parnassus Heights and Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights remain popular among University of California at San Francisco employees and students given their proximity to the school’s Parnassus campus and hospital.

Doctors and nurses clad in scrubs are a common sight along Cole Street and at the La Boulange Bakery at Cole and Parnassus Avenue.

Just down the street, French restaurant Zazie is a wildly popular brunch spot, with crowds of hungry diners filling the sidewalk outside on weekends as they wait for tables. Cole Hardware, in the neighborhood since 1920, remains a landmark business and sells a variety of housewares, plants, and painting supplies.

In operation since 1976, Say Cheese offers artisan cheeses, wine, and delicious sandwiches, among other treats. And the Ice Cream Bar, a 1930s-style soda fountain and lunch counter that opened in 2012, delights diners with its homemade floats, malts, and inventive ice cream flavors.

The neighborhood’s hilly areas offer sweeping views of downtown, the University of San Francisco, and Golden Gate Park.

Stunning and secluded, streets such as Edgewood Avenue, Willard Street, and Belmont Avenue lead to beautiful Mount Sutro, a lush, forested reserve with many hiking trails. Last year famed San Francisco author Armistead Maupin sold his Belmont Avenue home for $1.64 million, more than $400,000 above the asking price.

Cole Valley homes for sale include lovely Victorians, classic San Francisco condominiums, and more modern abodes. In February the median price for a condominium in Parnassus/Ashbury Heights was $1.08 million, according to MLS data.

In the Buena Vista Park area, the median sale price for a condominium in February was $977,000.

Over the last several years, prices in Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights have increased sharply, with some record sales.

“They’ve had a large surge in value,” Barber said. “Condos that used to sell in the sixes are now selling in the nines, and those that used to sell in the nines are selling for $1.2 million or $1.3 million.

“I love the area because it’s so charming, so old-school,” he added.

(Photo of Cole Valley by Karen Brockney, via Flickr.)

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