Official announcement: Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy

The Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy is now underway.

Intro_Castro_UpperMarketOver a year after its initial envisioning, the collaborative project has been fully funded and will take place over the next year. The goal – to improve the neighborhood’s retail character and fill its vacant spaces.

The Castro/Upper Market commercial corridor is the second most active business district in San Francisco, with high pedestrian activity and draw as both a tourist destination and a “gay mecca.” Its retail vacancy rate of 6.9%, however, is much higher than the City’s 3.8% average. New large-scale construction projects, adding over 30,000 square feet of new ground floor space, threaten to push the neighborhood’s retail vacancy rate even higher.

Intro_Castro_UpperMarketTo address the concern around vacancy, the Retail Strategy is being created as a collaborative effort by the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD), the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA), the Castro / Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (EVNA), and Castro Merchants (CM). The project was funded with the support of these organizations, local developers, and with grants from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener (see budget details.)

The primary aim of the Retail Strategy project is to address the existing high vacancy rate and develop an actionable plan to fill new ground floor retail in a manner that enables the commercial corridor to thrive while preserving its unique character. It also aims to ensure a high quality of life for area residents, while maintaining international draw as a tourist destination.

CBD MapSpecific questions under consideration include:
1) What new businesses would residents like to see in the neighborhood?
2) What mix of residents vs. international, national and regional tourists visit the neighborhood commercial corridor?
3) Why are some businesses vacating the neighborhood?
4) For which goods and services do local residents leave the neighborhood, and where do they go to buy them?
5) How can desired businesses be attracted to the neighborhood?

Extensive survey work will be completed to get a better understanding of the district’s retail environment and the perceptions of its customers, and will occur in several forms. Surveys will target residents, local and tourist customers, as well as merchants.

Intro_Castro_UpperMarketThe Retail Strategy will be divided into two phases — the first largely devoted to information gathering and the second to strategic planning. A consultant team lead by Seifel Consulting has been hired to lead the efforts. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprised of local merchants, neighborhood organizations and business stakeholders will continue to guide the process. By doing so, the Retail Strategy work-team acknowledges previous efforts and incorporates important, local knowledge.

A public presentation will share findings and the Retail Strategy in June, 2015.

We will be looking for volunteers to help us with surveying and other data collection strategies. If you are interested in helping Castro/Upper Market become a thriving and bustling commercial corridor, please visit and sign up to stay informed. The website also contains important project information such as TAG membership and a map of the project study area.

For additional project inquiries please email


The Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy team.

About the Author: Orie Zaklad

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