San Francisco

Union Square Construction a Turn-Off For Holiday Shoppers

With Thanksgiving weekend marking the official start of the holiday shopping season, the ongoing construction of the central subway under Union Square could have shoppers saying "Bah-humbug" a little more this year.

For the past five years, a stretch of Stockton Street from Post to Ellis streets, has been an open pedestrian mall. But this year, there will be a little less of the streets available.

Crews were seen and heard hammering and sawing Wednesday as construction of the central subway continues. Shoppers, meanwhile, must make do with the barriers and detours.

"Especially for the holidays, it’s a little confusing and not as pretty," said Florida resident Tracy Tucker, who is in town to visit her daughter. "She lives on Post Street, and there’s a bunch of construction there too, so it’s just like, construction everywhere."

The central subway project has been in progress for four years. The Stockton Street pedestrian mall has been set up over those years in an effort to attract shoppers to the busy Union Square retail district. This year, there will be a little less of the mall available.

"Things are coming together, although there’s more construction that’s happened over the past year, so it’s been more challenging to have as much open space as we have had in the past years," said Karin Flood of the Union Square Business Improvement District.

There are currently three large shafts that will remain open through the season. That means Astro-turf and glowing benches can't be set up there. A large corner of Union Square also is blocked off as crews continue building the subway.

"It smells, and a lot of displaced people don’t have nice places to sit," San Rafael resident Cheryl Lister said. "And we lost the kids a couple times behind construction platforms."

Turlock resident Vicente Rosales said, "I guess if you don’t know your way around San Francisco, it can be very difficult because there is a lot of construction in the middle."

The pedestrian mall usually opens the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, it will open Saturday and remain open until Dec. 31.

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