It's been almost a year since we last heard about the proposed Castro location of Umpqua Bank, which was angling to move into the Magnet space at 4122 18th St. after Magnet departed for its new home at the forthcoming Strut Center.
The bank had to go through a community planning process and seek a conditional use permit, due to Umpqua having more than 11 locations in the U.S., which designates it as formula retail. That may have been too much of a hurdle, as Gina Simi of the SF Planning Department told us that the bank is no longer attempting to obtain conditional use. "The sponsor of the proposal withdrew the application in July," Simi told us.
We spoke with Castro Merchants president Daniel Bergerac to learn more about the proposal and withdrawal.
"Umpqua marketed themselves well for many months," Bergerac told us. "They did a lot of outreach, made donations to local groups, and had presentations for Castro Merchants and also the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association."
Despite the positive gestures and plans for a unique community space inside the proposed branch, Bergerac said that there weren't enough votes from Castro Merchants in favor of the bank. "The vote was overwhelmingly against the bank, with 40+ votes against and one vote for it," he explained. "Many felt that we are saturated with banks, baristas, and bars, and we are hoping for something else."
Bergerac notes that he sees a growing problem for retail, specifically in the area. "It's harder to open retail, given the times. Many people use Amazon and other services, rather than visiting a store," he continued. "New retail faces a hurdle of giant rents, and I'm interested in what's going to happen in the next 4-5 years when a lot of these mixed-use construction projects are completed and their ground-floor retail spaces are trying to find tenants."
Though Umpqua withdrew its Castro proposal, the bank is still planning other San Francisco locations. The store manager at the Noe Valley location told us that Umpqua had looked into opening several stores in San Francisco in the last year, and just recently opened a new location in Potrero Hill in September.
Magnet's move to the new Strut Center has been delayed while the new center waits on clinical licensing from the state, so its unclear when the 18th street space will be vacated.
For now, we'll have to wait to see who leases the space.
What do you hope moves in?