Thursday, July 10, 2014

Castro's High Retail Vacancy Rate Prompts $87K Study

Have you noticed the many For Rent signs in the windows of lots of storefronts in the gayborhood of District 8? Three years back, we conducted a photographic survey of empty business spaces in the Castro and at the time there were 27 empty spaces for rent. Check out our survey here.

We're pleased several of the storefronts in our photos have been leased, but the overall problem of continuing retail vacancies have reached the point that City Hall and area advocacy groups are developing a strategy to deal with the problem, according to this alert from Andrea Aiello of the Castro Benefit District:

"Concerned about the health of the neighborhood’s retail environment, business and neighborhood groups formed a coalition and established a working group tasked with developing a comprehensive 'Retail Strategy' for the Castro/Upper Market corridor.

"Led by the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD), the coalition includes the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA),the Castro / Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (EVNA), and Castro Merchants (CM.)

"The primary aim of the 'Retail Strategy Project' is to address the existing high vacancy rate and develop an actionable plan to fill new ground floor retail in a manner that enables the commercial corridor to thrive while preserving its unique character and draw as a tourist destination. It also aims to ensure high quality of life for area residents.

"A total of $87,200 has been raised through a grant from the City and donations from neighborhood groups and developers alike."

We requested a breakdown of donors and amounts given from Andrea and she provided the info to us this afternoon.

According to the spreadsheet (see below), some of the big donors include the Mayor's Office of Employment and Workplace Development with $35,000 donated, the CBD kicked in $15,000, the Castro Merchants (formerly MUMC) donated $6,000, Prado Development Group gave $5,000, Spier Development chipped in $4,500 and the medical marijuana dispensary Apothocarium contributed $2,500.

Let's be optimistic that the strategy and all stakeholders involved take into account widespread concerns about longtime Castro residents being displaced because of high-end development, and the worries of tenants who are renters in the gayborhood who fear losing their affordable housing.

We'll keep tabs on this strategy as it moves forward.

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