Castro Has the Answer For Empty Storefronts

By Matt Baume
|  Saturday, Aug 14, 2010  |  Updated 10:13 PM PDT
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Castro Has the Answer For Empty Storefronts

Tellumo via Flickr

The roll sign on a Muni Metro train heading to Castro on the T Third Street line

Looking for a quick bite? Head on over to the Castro.

Plagued by empty storefronts, the neighborhood got a boost form the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which lifted a ban on new restaurant spaces in the neighborhood. Although there's no shortage of Castro bars, curbs on new eateries have prevented buildings from switching from retail to dining.

The move follows similar actions in Noe Valley and on Union Street.

Empty buildings have been a particular problem for the Castro in recent years. Although some lots, such as the notorious "hole in the ground" at Market and Noe Valley, have been empty for years, store vacancy rate was recently estimated to be approaching 20 percent.

"We are excited this modest piece of legislation is moving forward, providing opportunities for new small businesses in the Castro," said Boe Hayward, legislative aid for Dufty.

Feathers were ruffled recently when it was announced that Trader Joe's may move into the long-empty building that was once home to a Tower Records. Residents fretted about traffic, and nearby tenants sought to derail the deal.

And the move may come too late for beleaguered Ike's, a popular sandwich shop that faces eviction by an unsympathetic landlord. But with new spaces opening up, a reprieve for Ike's may come in the form of a new storefront.

But there are no definite specifics yet on what kinds of eateries might move in. Could an In-and-Out be in the Castro's future?

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