Business Briefs: Castro groups survey gay district's retailneeds
by Matthew S. Bajko
A coalition of Castro neighborhood groups is surveying the retail needs of the city's gay district.
Dubbed the "Castro and Upper Market Retail Strategy," its purpose is to develop a plan for how to attract businesses to fill the various vacant retail spaces dotting Castro and Market streets as well as the new storefronts that will be housed on the ground floors of the mixed-use residential buildings currently under construction.
According to the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, the project will "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 and draw as a tourist destination. It also aims to ensure high quality of life for area residents."
The LGBT business district has seen a number of restaurants shutter, including Blue and Shanghai, and national chain stores, such as L'Occitane en Provence and Diesel, pull out of the Castro in recent years. Attempts to turn the building that housed Diesel at the corner of Market and Castro, above the Castro Muni station, into a gay men's club never materialized.
At the same time a number of new coffeehouses, such as Eureka Cafe on Castro Street and Espressamente Illy on Market Street, have moved in within the last year. A new video arcade bar and Mexican eatery, both locally owned, are set to open in the new residential building named the Century at Market and 15th streets, while a block away a new food hall is being planned and the Swedish American Hall is receiving a top-to-bottom renovation that will reactive the building and its basement club space.
But concerns about seeing chain stores flood the area led last year to city officials enacting tougher restrictions on formula retail and an 18-month moratorium on financial services opening along Market Street. Plans for a Hamburger Mary's to go into the old Patio Cafe space on Castro Street and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's proposed pharmacy and HIV testing clinic across the street have both elicited opposition.
The CBD is leading the effort to create the strategy and is working with the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, and the Castro Merchants group to develop it. The project is being paid for with $87,200 raised through a grant from the city and donations from neighborhood groups and developers.
San Francisco-based firm Seifel Consulting has been hired to conduct the study, while the CBD has hired Danny Yadegar, a Duboce Triangle resident, urban planner, and DTNA board member, as a part-time, temporary consultant to coordinate the project.
Surveyors are expected to hit the streets this fall to seek public input about what types of retail is wanted or needed in the Castro. A final report based on the survey feedback and input from neighborhood groups is to be presented to the public next July.
The National LGBT Bar Association is honoring two San Francisco attorneys, John T. Hendricks and Kyle Wong , with its 2014 Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 award. The group will fete this year's 40 "outstanding" LGBT legal professionals under the age of 40 at a luncheon August 23 as part of the 2014 Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair in New York City.
Wong is a special counsel at Cooley LLP's litigation department. He joined the firm in 2007 and focuses on complex commercial litigation, including antitrust and trade regulation, privacy matters, class actions, and other commercial litigation.
"I'm honored to be included among such talented and accomplished company. We live in time of great social change for LGBTQ folks, and I've relished the opportunity to be a part of that change," Wong told the B.A.R.
Hendricks is a partner and founder of HendricksMurry, P.C., previously the Law Offices of John T. Hendricks. His practice focuses on the areas of business, real estate and employment law.
He has served in various leadership positions within legal organizations, including as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, as a director of the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom – the local LGBT lawyer group known as BALIF – and as president of the National LGBT Bar Foundation.
"I am honored to be recognized by the LGBT Bar Association," stated Hendricks. "Our firm is proud to be a gay-owned business, and we are committed to ensuring equality and fair treatment for LGBT people in everything we do. To be acknowledged for work that is so important to me in both my personal and professional life is incredibly gratifying."
To mark its 15th anniversary, Mission Street eatery Foreign Cinema is throwing itself a "Quintessentially Quixotic Quinceanera" that will raise money for two Castro-based youth institutions. Proceeds from the September 18 party will be split between LGBT youth services provider LYRIC, which stands for the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, and the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, a public elementary school named after the city's first gay supervisor.
Tickets for the event, which begins at 7 p.m., are $100 per person. The evening will feature "visual delights, sensual bites, sultry libations, and unique burlesque and art performances from the world renowned drag queens of San Francisco's Trannyshack and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" promise the restaurant's chef co-owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark.
For information on how to purchase tickets, visit http://www.foreigncinema.com/upcomingevents/.
Got a tip on LGBT business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.