San Francisco struggling to fill empty downtown storefronts: ‘Vacancies operate like a virus’
Cities such as San Francisco are struggling to fill vacant downtown storefronts while some try to find alternatives to fill ground-floor retail spaces, such as “small-scale manufacturing” and public restrooms.
“The ground-floor restaurant or ground-floor coffee shop or bar should not be seen as the moneymaker for an office high-rise, but as a benefit to the community to serve anyone that comes downtown,” Robbie Silver, the head of San Francisco’s Downtown Community Benefit District, told the New York Times. “That mind-set has not really happened yet.”
The paper also noted that Silver said “vacancies operate like a virus,” as every empty storefront makes it more difficult for other downtown businesses to stay alive.
The New York Times reported that cities, like San Francisco, need to start considering alternatives to retail space.
Ilana Preuss, the CEO of a consulting firm that helps cities revitalize their downtown areas, said “mixed use” buildings, which contain office space or housing in the upper floors and a commercial space on the first floor, were “everywhere.”
“To fill vacant downtown storefronts now, cities will have to consider other such uses. Perhaps fewer coffee shops, and more health clinics, day care centers, university classrooms, live/work spaces and fabrication shops,” the New York Times reported.
Preuss suggested filling vacant ground-floor space with “small-scale manufacturing,” and described it as “people producing tangible things, like bottling hot sauce or roasting coffee beans,” the Times reported.
An artist who lives in New York suggested filling the empty stores with public restrooms, art studios or “spaces for free cultural programming or city services.”
San Francisco has struggled with rampant crime, as major stores such as Whole Foods were forced to close their doors due to safety concerns.
Whole Foods announced they would be shutting down their San Francisco location due to safety concerns in April.
In Washington, D.C., a Giant grocery store location announced it would stop selling major name brand items in an effort to deter theft.
The grocery chain’s location said it was removing brands like Advil, Colgate and Tide from their shelves in an effort to avoid shutting down due to high rate of theft.
The store had already taken drastic steps to increase security. Giant shoppers will also be required to show their receipts before exiting the store, according to the Washington Post.
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