Quantcast

Discover Polk CBD to intervene as Big Apple space approaches 5th year of vacancy

The former Big Apple Discount Center has been vacant for nearly five years. | Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline
By Carrie Sisto - Published on August 09, 2019.

Since closing in 2014, the former Big Apple Discount Center space has become one of Polk Street's most stubborn vacancies, with proposals for two different projects — a spinoff of the Twitter building's The Market and The Bazaar, an Asian-inspired grocery and night market — ultimately going nowhere. 

Now, Discover Polk, the neighborhood's new community benefit district (CBD), is seeking to liven up the space at 1650 Polk, until the building's owner can agree to a new tenant.

Since plans for The Bazaar have "conclusively fallen through," Discover Polk is “working on a concept for an artistic installation over the exterior of the building, to improve the look and presence,” chief executive officer Iana Dikidjieva told us.

The Washington Street facade of 1650 Polk is a target for graffiti. | Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline

The CBD is also doing a bit of marketing, “working to connect the owner with folks who do the sort of concepts we believe could work in a space that large," Dikidjieva said.

But it won't be easy, she noted. The building needs a mandatory seismic retrofit, which could increase the time it remains vacant.

And because it's sat empty for so long, it's become a target for taggers — the CBD’s staff have addressed 15 instances of graffiti on the building in 2019 alone. 

There's also the matter of competition. Neighbors have sought a new grocery store in the area for years, with Mollie Stone's recently announcing its intent to move into the former Lombardi Sports location at 1600 Jackson St.

The location had previously been the site of a years-long effort to move in a Whole Foods 365 store, which was ultimately rejected by the Planning Commission for an insufficient quantity of on-site housing.

Mollie Stone's, however, won't be required to obtain a conditional use permit from Planning for the space, which means it could open a new store much faster, with no housing. That would mean strong grocery competition for a new tenant in the Big Apple space, located just a few blocks away. 

Local grocery Mollie Stone's plans to move into the long-vacant 1600 Jackson St. | Photo: Nathan Falstreau/Hoodline

The two blocks of Polk Street that house the Big Apple and Lombardi buildings have the highest vacancy rates of the CBD’s entire service territory, with nearly 44% of the retail square feet vacant in the buildings fronting Polk. 

That affects the other businesses on those blocks, which the CBD has made new efforts to support. 

In June, Discover Polk launched an Only on Polk Summer Saturdays series, which features pop-ups, sales, and outdoor activations along Polk Street from Broadway to California Street.

The next sidewalk block party, with about 35 participating businesses, will take place on August 31.

Cheese Plus on Pacific and Polk participates in the summer sidewalk sales. | Photo: Discover Polk CBD

In the meantime, the CBD is hard at work on an art installation for the Big Apple space.

“[T]he area as a whole would benefit enormously if it were to get a facelift,” Dikidjieva said.

About 2 hours ago
San Francisco Glen Park

Glen Park’s adorably quaint Tyger’s Coffee Shop has permanently closed

The unpretentious, old-school omelette destination at Diamond and Chenery Streets closed April 1, though another cafe will apparently replace it. Read More

About 6 hours ago
San Francisco Divisadero NoPa

Bay Area bagel boom continues with opening of Schlok's in NoPa

After months of operating a wildly popular bagel pop-up, Schlok's is getting set to open a brick-and-mortar shop at 1263 Fell Street, in a former laundromat off Divisadero in NoPa (in the same complex as RT Rotisserie and Nopalito). Read More

Apr 13, 2021
San Francisco SoMa

30-bed drug sobering center proposed for Howard Street office building

SF Mayor London Breed on Tuesday announced a proposal to lease an empty office building at 1076 Howard Street for use as a 30-bed drug sobering center, making good on a promise first made before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The facility will focus on those living on the streets who are experiencing methamphetamine-induced psychosis. Read More

Apr 13, 2021
San Francisco Castro Duboce Triangle

2100 Market Street, formerly Home, Church Street Station, and The Truck Stop, makes appearance in 'Doodler' podcast

The one-story, flatiron-shaped building that once lived at 2100 Market was home to multiple businesses over several decades. One of its brief incarnations in the 1970s, a 24-hour diner called The Truck Stop, figures into the unsolved case of "The Doodler," a serial killer who preyed on gay men in San Francisco, and about whom Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan has just done a new podcast. Read More