Final Report and Appendix RELEASED!

The final report and technical appendix for the Castro/Upper Market Retail Strategy have been released! Please see the “Recommendations and Report” tab to access these documents. The executive summary has been provided below.

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The Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy is a collaborative effort to guide the retail district’s evolution and attract new complementary businesses. As new development continues to occur and retail spaces in existing and new buildings have become available, the community has come together to realize a shared vision to cultivate the district’s long-term success. The goals of the Retail Strategy are threefold:

1) To help fill vacancies and bring exciting new businesses to the district
2) To better understand the preferences and habits of the district’s customer base
3) To work with City agencies to improve the quality of the pedestrian experience and the district’s retail environment

The Retail Strategy, administered through the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, has been guided by merchants, community leaders, property owners, city officials, and a representative Technical Advisory Group (TAG). TAG members, interviews and focus groups with local businesses and retail brokers, merchant surveys and over 1,200 online and in-person customer surveys have provided insights and rich statistical data regarding the district’s customer base and retail landscape. The information gathered for this study has helped reframe everyone’s understanding of the Castro & Upper Market district.

Significant development in the Castro & Upper Market neighborhoods continues to bring new customers to the retail district. Since 2010, over 500 units of new housing and roughly 1,000 new residents have been added, with the development of more than 100 additional new housing units planned in mixed-use projects with retail on the ground floor. New residents tend to be younger than existing residents, and fewer new residents self-identify as LGBT. As the retail corridor continues to evolve, retail offerings will similarly need to evolve to accommodate the increasingly diverse needs of the local neighborhood while simultaneously catering to the national and international tourists who visit its historic gay landmarks.

In spite of complex 6-way intersections along Market Street, survey respondents pointed to “walkability” as the single best attribute of the retail corridor. The TAG continues to work in collaboration with the SFMTA in order to further improve the pedestrian environment through sidewalk expansions, more visible street markings, and safer pedestrian crosswalks.

In conclusion to this yearlong project, the TAG (working in collaboration with Seifel Consulting, MJB Consulting and lowercase productions) offers the following recommendations to help improve and reposition the district in order to welcome new businesses alongside its successful and longstanding favorites.

$120k+           Average household income that customers report
40-49             Median age range of neighborhood residents
               Customers with a bachelors degree or higher
58%                Customers self-identifying as LGBT

Customers that live in San Francisco
90%                Merchants that live in San Francisco
55%                Merchants that have been in business over 15 years

47%                Customers that walk to the district
25%                Customers that take transit
28%                Customers that drive, bike or use other forms of transportation

60%                Customers that are local residents
3X+                 Times per week the typical customer visits the retail district
$80                 Spending by the typical local resident customer, per visit
$150               Spending by the typical customer from outside San Francisco, per visit

500                 New units built in the past 5 years
1,000             New residents in the past 5 years
100+               New units currently pursuing entitlements

Castro Streetscape Improvement Project, completed 2014
Upper Market Street Safety Project, 2015-2016

33                   Vacant retail spaces (6 of which are in new mixed use developments)


About the Author: Danny Yadegar

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