SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – With many office spaces remaining empty in downtown San Francisco, it looks like remote work is here to stay.

More tech companies continue to give up some of their downtown space and now the city is looking for creative ways to bring people back to the area — some may even say city leaders are looking for answers from their neighbors.

But coming out of the pandemic, South San Francisco has continued its momentum and growth, and city leaders say that’s a large reason the city is doing so well right now.

“Definitely we’re not at a critically mass place like we were in 2019 before the pandemic and you can see that the downtown is not as full as it has been in the past,” Tony Marcell, a partner at Wayfare Tavern in downtown San Francisco said. “No doubt and it’s clear that there are empty spaces.”

Marcell said many other business owners in the area say they’ve experienced a significant drop in business since the pandemic.

While some employees have returned to working in person, many office spaces remain empty, as remote work is also here to stay.

“I think at this point you got to think outside the box. Truth be told is we want to re-invigorate downtown and the work-life balance or where people are going to be working has changed for the foreseeable future then yeah, I think you have to shake the box up and put everything out on the table,” Marcell said.

San Francisco leaders have proposed everything from turning empty office space into housing to attracting new business sectors to the downtown space like biotech, something that neighboring South San Francisco has been thriving off of.

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South San Francisco City Manager Mike Futrell boasted that there are 45,000 life science professionals working there.

“Our life science cluster is the largest in the world with over 12 million square feet and growing,” Futrell said.

Futrell said that this is reason their local economy survived the pandemic and has continued to grow.

“You can’t really do biotech lab work from home so throughout the pandemic there were still a lot of scientists throughout the lab, a lot of whom were working on COVID-related issues,” Furtell said. “Because of that, the restaurants still saw business and there was life throughout the pandemic.”

In the last week, Futrell said two more companies just opened a headquarters location and a research facility. 

Futrell said the success coming out of the biotech industry has created more opportunities in South San Francisco and the city continues to grow and invest in itself.

The industry may now be a new target for San Francisco as it tries to rely less on big tech with remote work.