The developers of the new build at 2175 Market and 15th Street are proposing a 'Market Square' retail space setting on the first floor of the Castro's latest luxury, mixed use retail/condo structure.
Forest City Developers idea is to have several local small business lease parts of the buildings single large space and have an open space between all - like an old style town square - allowing residents of both the building and neighborhood to shop from a variety of stores without having to wander very far from home.
They hope to lure local independent, non-formula retail merchants like a butcher, coffee shop, green grocer to lease parts of the site.
This unique approach is something unusual and hasn't been done at any of the other recently constructed buildings within the neighborhood. 38 Dolores for example has only one retail tenant - Whole Foods Market - occupying the entire first floor.
Forest City Developers have proved willing to work with community groups and adjust design based on their input and concerns. For example they agreed to have on-site affordable housing at the new builds location instead of donating to the Mayor's rarely touched affordable housing trust.
Forest Developers agreed to 20% of the 88 units being built would be set aside for affordable housing. That figure is well above the 12% required from developers by City planning ordinance. After completion these condo units will be run as rental properties by the developers.
Many neighborhood groups from the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association to the Castro Benefit District have encouraged all Castro developers to have on-site affordable units within their new builds. They believe that having mixed income developments are essential to the overall health and well-being of the current Castro community by nurturing and maintaining its diversity.
Plans for the proposed 'Market Square' retail setting are still in the very early stages and there will still be a number of hurdles to be leapt if this plan is to come to fruition. What is encouraging is seeing developers responding to community requests and attempts made to think outside of the retail box on how to better meet the needs of the Castro and its citizens.