Too Many Vacant Shops in the Castro?

One reason people mention that they are supportive of the Walgreen’s expansion into the Laundromat on 18th is because “there are too many vacant storefronts in the Castro.” The other reason, “Walgreen’s is a good neighbor,” was debunked, I think, in the last Eureka!

Being a curious type, I walked the streets, 17th to 19th and Noe to Diamond, counting shops to see if this was true. I counted ground floor spaces and when a shop occupied more than one, I counted the total storefronts, e.g., Walgreen’s on Castro occupies 3. Though not a professional statistical analysis, I intended to verify whether impression matches reality, and in my opinion, it does not.

Truth is that we have 90% occupancy and 10% vacancy rates – see chart below.

Out of a total of 149 street level storefronts only 15 are vacant. Further, the vacancies include Welcome Home, under construction for occupancy, Castro Video approved for Levi’s store, and rumor has it that Ritz Camera might be occupied soon. Allow for these and rates are 92% occupancy, 8% vacancy. Very good!

Analyzing the numbers even further, of the 12 remaining vacancies, 58% include spaces that are off the market due to the owners/lessor’s own intent, e.g. Les Natali who owns the five “Patio spaces” on Castro that have inexplicably been vacant for nearly 10 years, and the former Pendulum on 18th, or the Laundromat which Walgreen’s snapped up and then left vacant for over a year. If one takes these 7 storefronts out of the count, the occupancy rate shoots to 97% with ONLY 5 vacancies out of 149 storefronts. So, I’d say our occupancy is very, VERY good.

Of course, I understand that a few high visibility spaces do create a sense of blight. At long last things seem to be moving quickly with Les’ properties –THANK YOU! Levi’s plans to be open by Folsom Street Fair, and hopefully plans for Ritz will come to fruition. This combined activity is sure to make the Castro feel much more vibrant, something all of us want. Perhaps Walgreens will open up the Laundromat for an artist gallery while it contemplates next steps –it certainly would be better than an empty storefront!

Finally, I know that some will find all of this analyzing of the numbers as a demonstration that EVPA is anti-business. I for one most certainly am not anti business and in fact pro-business. As long as businesses reflect the community, work with, respect and support the whole neighborhood and don’t try to dominate the neighborhood or overtake the “village” charm that is what makes the Castro special, I am in support of them. I would be opposed to De La Sole, the Midnight Sun, Blue, Sumi, or any other single business if they wanted to occupy 5 storefronts in the Castro. I feel we need variety, not 5 storefronts occupied by one business like Walgreen’s wants.

Here’s my analysis for your perusal:

Castro storefronts (Ground floor shops only)
Street Total Vacant Occupancy
Castro between 17th-18th:
East side (Ritz) 21 1 95%
West side (Welcome Home) 18 1 94%
Sub-total Castro Street, 17th to 18th 39 2 95%

Castro between 18th-19th:
East side* (Castro Video, Patio spaces - 5, Title Co.) 19 7 63%
West side 26 0 100%
Sub-total Castro Street, 18th to 19th 45 7 84%

17th Street, South side only 5 0 100%
Sub-total 17th Street 5 0 100%

18th E of Castro (to Noe):
North side (Flux, space at Hartford) 8 2 75%
South side** (Card shop, Planet Weaver’s) 16 2 88%
Sub-total 18th East side 24 4 83%

18th W of Castro (to Diamond)
North side* (former Pendulum) 11 1 91%
South side (Laundromat) 15 1 93%
Sub-total 18th W of Castro 26 2 92%

19th Street
North side 2 0 100%
South side 8 0 100%
Sub-total 19th West side 10 0 100%

Grand total: 149 15 90%

Taking Ritz, Welcome Home, Levi, Natali and Walgreen’s spaces out vacancies, totals are: 149 5 97%

*Incl. Les Natali's vacant spots: Patio (5) & former Pendulum (1) and Walgreen's keeping their space vacant.
**Incl. Planet Weaver's temp location as vacant

Leave a Reply