I Wish The Castro Had...

I Wish The Castro Had...
By Roy - Published on October 16, 2014.
It's no secret that the Castro has a higher-than-average retail vacancy rate. Just look around at the retail storefronts along Castro Street and Market Street and you will see many gaps, many of them longterm vacancies, at the former spaces of Blue Restaurant, L'Occitane, Home Restaurant, Blockbuster, The Body Shop, Under One Roof, Diesel (may be a Soul Cycle), De La Sole (temporary campaign office, possible relocation for Philz), Pica Pica, and more.
According to the Castro and Upper Market Retail Strategy Project, the area's 6.9 percent vacancy rate is nearly double the citywide average of 3.8 percent. "New large-scale construction projects, adding over 30,000 square feet of retail space, threaten to increase the neighborhood’s retail vacancy rate up to 10.6 percent," read the August 2014 report.

In an October 10th memo from the Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office requested by Supervisor David Campos to assess the displacement of small businesses and commercial retail spaces throughout San Francisco, the Office of Economic Workforce Development suggested that the challenges for attracting business to the Castro are unique:

The report cites a slightly different challenge for businesses in the neighborhood as “a number of long term vacancies; some landlords are absentee and/or seem to be holding out for high rents.” This suggests that property owners anticipate an increase in rents on the horizon, although the time frame is not mentioned.
We were not able to confirm the OEWD's findings that commercial property owners were either absentee or holding out for higher rents, but the Castro and Upper Market Retail Strategy Project group is not sitting idly by. The group is taking a proactive approach to help fill the area's vacant retail. 

As we reported in August, the group is made up of stakeholders from various neighborhood associations and Castro merchants who are currently in the process of rounding up volunteers to survey residents' opinions on what kind of retail they would like to see brought into the Castro. The data these volunteers collect will help direct the various groups on how and what to focus on when working to attract businesses to the neighborhood.

Fellow Hoodline editor Nuala Sawyer up in the Divisadero corridor put together a post asking neighbors to chime in on what they'd like to see move in to replace vacant commercial spaces. We're asking the same question to Castro residents, ala Candy Chang:

"I wish the Castro had ..."

In previous posts on Hoodline and the Castro Biscuit's Facebook page, Castro residents have clamored for:

  • A donut shop
  • A Chipotle
  • Social services for AIDS/HIV
  • Formula retail apparel
  • Trader Joe's
  • Better restaurants
  • Bathhouse(s)
What retail, restaurants and services do you wish the Castro had (or had more of)? Let us know in the comments.