Retail availability is an important determinant of community health. Being within walking distance of neighborhood retail improves access to daily goods and services, promotes physical activity, reduces vehicle trips and miles traveled, promotes small business development, increases opportunities for social interaction, and reduces crime by increasing street use and natural surveillance[i]. Additionally, increasing neighborhood serving retail can grow tax revenue, which can be invested back into the neighborhood. Research shows that existing residents may have a positive response to new retail if it provides desired goods and services that were previously unavailable, while causing minimal displacement of existing neighborhood retail.[ii] At the same time, it may also signal to existing residents that the neighborhood is changing and that displacement pressures are rising.
Between 2011 and 2015 retail vacancy rates were reduced by half in the CMTL area. Citywide, retail vacancy rates were already relatively low, but fell to 2% by 2015. However, in 2017 there was a notable increase in retail vacancy in the CMTL to 11% , while it increased to 3% citywide. This increase in vacancy rates in 2017 corresponded to a dip in lease rates in the CMTL and citywide. Between 2011 and 2017 the availability of retail space also fell by about 2.5% in the CMTL and 1.6% citywide.
CoStar via the San Francisco Department of Real Estate, 2011-2015.
[i] “The San Francisco Indicator Project: Retail Service Access.” Accessed August 27, 2016. http://www.sfindicatorproject.org/indicators/view/115.
[ii] Zuk M, Bierbaum AH, Chapple K, Gorska K, Loukaitou-Sideris A, Ong P, Thomas T. (2015) Gentrification, Displacement and the Role of Public Investment: A Literature Review. UC Berkeley & UC Los Angeles. http://www.urbandisplacement.org/sites/default/files/images/displacement_lit_review_final.pdf.