Monday, May 16, 2011

27 Empty Stores in the Castro;
Civic Groups, Pols Antagonistic

There are more than two-dozen empty retail spaces, restaurants and an entire building up for rent or available for purchase in the Castro district, and the reasons for rather high numbers are many, starting with the continuing recession and stretching to greedy landlords wanting too much coin.

The Castro, as with all gay or hip enclaves, is always evolving and recreating itself, but I sense a deeply nervous entrepreneurial community worrying about the businesses of the area and an equally anxious grassroots network of activist wanting greater say in who controls local public spaces.

Given the dozens of closed venues or assorted shop available for leasing, the Castro Theater closed eight-nights in April and frequently shuttered on Mondays or Tuesdays, still operating neighborhood stores hurting for more revenue and customers, it behooves the civic groups of the Castro to lessen their antagonism and disrespect of other district stakeholders.

It's not just the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro and the Castro Benefits District groups that have engaged in alienation tactics regarding the rainbow flag and pole issues at Harvey Milk Plaza that contribute to keeping visitors out of the Castro. MUMC and the CBD are joined by Supervisor Scott Wiener and his staff, in addition to numerous folks at the Department of Public Works.

The lack of creative thinking among those named parties to recruit people to the neighborhood, and be open to new ideas allowing increased "ownership" by diverse segments of the LGBT activist community, is another deficiency in the Castro's civic leadership and stewardship.

Will 27 retail vacancies have any impact on MUMC, CBD, DPW and Wiener to re-think their approach to community-wide engagement and outreach? Maybe put forward fresh ideas to revivify the neighborhood's businesses and put out a genuine welcome mat to activists and consumers?

As we wait to see how the civic groups and Wiener deal with a high business vacancy rate, check out my pix snapped over the weekend of the empty stores. Click to enlarge:

1. The Human Rights Campaign's souvenir shop operated for years at this 19th Street and Castro spot, before moving into Harvey Milk's old camera shop.

2. The sunny former home of the First National Title Company at 595 Castro, waiting to be leased again.

3. The old Patio restaurant and bar on Castro, may have closed while Bill Clinton was president.

4. An empty storefront sits next to the Patio in the 500 block of Castro.
5. Vacant corner store at Castro and 18th Streets that recently served as the temporary exhibitions space of the GLBT Historical Society.

6. The hollow shell that once was the A Different Light bookstore on Castro now has its windows obscured by butcher paper.

7. Further up in the 400 block of Castro is the shuttered Fuzio pasta restaurant.

8. The former ice cream parlor in the same Castro block is guarded with a flexible metal gate.

9. When did Sprint vacate the basement space of the building that houses the Diesel store at Castro and Market?

10. No more laundry and dry cleaning services at this deserted location on 18th near Collingwood Street.

11. Who can tell me what business operated last year from this space on Market between Noe and Castro?

12 and 13. The Tower Records building's first floor on Market comprises two empty spaces, that recently were home to Goodwill and the Kard Zone.

14. Has it been three, maybe four years, or even longer since this indoor gardening shop closed, moving over to Divisadero Street?

15. Behind the windows of what was GymSF sits a large vacant room that once was full of men working out on the second-floor space on Market near 16th.

16. This abandoned storefront recently served as the performance space and art gallery for the Femina Potens collective, Market and Sanchez.

17. A few doors down from the gallery sits the forlorn and angular office/retail space next to a credit union's ATM on Market close to 14th Street.

18. On the north side of Market between Sanchez and Church is the long-empty store that I believe last was occupied by a pilates/yoga studio.

19. Almost directly across the street from Number 18 is a large multi-level building that until about two-years ago was a fundamentalist church.

20. Same side of Market, but closer to Church, this small retail space continues to wait for a new business to move in.

21. Video Control used to operate at this Market and Church site, but went out of business nearly two-years ago.

22. Here on Church near 15th Street we have the old No Name Sushi restaurant available for rent.

23 and 24. The top level of this structure on Church and 14th Street lately was a medical marijuana dispensary, while the ground floor was BOC, the Bar on Church, and both floors are available for rent.

25. Half-way up Church is the forlorn squat store that operated as a Blockbuster franchise, with a large parking lot in the back, waiting for new tenant or two.

26. Somewhat odd name given its location, Castro Coffee, for this shuttered java-and-bagel food hut situated at the crazy-busy public transit hub and intersection at Duboce and Church.

27. And finally, the restaurant where Pudong most recently try to make a go of it as a dim sum palace on Market opposite the Safeway store, is available for leasing.


Michael Zonta said...

Henny Penny!!! The sky is falling!!! The sky is falling!!!

Michael said...

if only the housing and business rents were also falling, that would be cool!!!