May Project Update, June 4 Presentation (2 weeks!)

The Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy is approaching the end of its first year. Surveys, interviews and focus groups have given the Retail Strategy team a grounded understanding of the district’s retail dynamics – where people come from, how they get here, how much they spend, how much the rents are, how much the rents are elsewhere, why certain vacancies are so hard to fill, etc. In collaboration with neighborhood leadership, this information is now being used to finalize a series of recommendations to guide the retail district’s future.At this Year 1 mark the recommendations will become the final deliverable of Seifel Consulting’s team, a group contracted for the project’s initial stage. In conjunction with a final presentation, Seifel’s team will be producing a final report that will outline the recommendations in response to existing conditions, survey findings and feedback from countless meetings and conversations. The report will also offer takeaways from the case studies of two retail districts in San Francisco and one in New York that serve as comparable districts for various characteristics.

More than half of the district’s customer base self identifies as LGBT

What We’ve Learned

The Castro & Upper Market area is undergoing dramatic change. Over the past 5 years the opening of 500 new units has created local homes for more than 1000 new residents – 150 more units are currently pursuing entitlements. According to the surveys, new residents are not only younger, but fewer identify as LGBT. Dozens of new businesses have opened in the districts, and a similar number have closed up shop. In comparison to a city-led study done in 2013, the area’s retail vacancy rate remains around 8-9%. This rate is significantly higher than the citywide average.

Aside from substantial change, the Castro & Upper Market remains a bastion of LGBT diversity. Fully 58% of survey respondents interviewed in public self-identified as LGBT, and that number increases to 73% when limiting responses to local residents. Put another way, more than half of the district’s customers identify as LGBT, and in the case of neighborhood residents that number is closer to three quarters.


More people walk to the district than drivers, bikers and transit-users combined.

The retail corridor is also impressively local. Nearly half of customers walk to the district. Impressively, to get to their shopping and restaurants, more take transit (25%) than do drive (18%). The area is also strongly represented by San Franiscans – More than 75% of survey respondents live in San Francisco, as do 90% of merchants. Residents, not surprisingly, report more frequent visits to the district. Their frequency of visits, however, is noteworthy with the vast majority of residents reporting that they visit the district three or more times per week. They spend, on average, $70 per visit. The Castro & Upper Market area is one of the wealthiest in the City – with, according to Zillow, a median home value of $1.55M and, according to the Retail Strategy survey, a median household income over $120k.

Recommendations and What’s Next

In conclusion to the project, the Retail Strategy team will be hosting a Year 1 Open House at 2175 Market Street. While currently under construction, the 4000 square foot space will become the future home to a creative market hall concept that will feature food and drinks alongside local retailers and craftsmen. Details of the public event are as follows:

Thursday June 4, 6-8pm
Remarks at 7pm
2175 Market St

The Open House will offer the best opportunity for members of the public to get more detailed information regarding the Retail Strategy’s five recommendations and the project’s next steps. Posters will be setup throughout the space in an open format for audience members to further explore findings and ask questions of staff and project volunteers.

We hope to see many of you there!


Andrea Aiello
Castro/Upper Market CBD, Execute Director

Danny Yadegar
Retail Strategy, Project Coordinator

For general information please visit
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About the Author: Danny Yadegar

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