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From vacant to vibrant: San Francisco rolls out pop-up store recovery plan

San Francisco’s mayor has vowed to make some big investments to kick-start her city’s economic recovery.

On Thursday, the city rolled out another tool in that plan, formally selecting a group of so-called pop-up businesses that will be allowed to set up in vacant storefronts downtown.

“We make an awesome breakfast sandwich and we have a lot of pastries, our cinnamon roll is really popular,” said Hilary Passman, the owner of the Devil’s Teeth Baking Company, which already has two San Francisco locations.

And now, will add a third pop-up shop with some help from the city.

“I am tired of hearing that San Francisco is dying,” said Passman.

Her bakery is one of 17 pop-ups the city says will set up in empty storefronts downtown next month. The first wave will be in the Financial District.

“It’s not dead, it’s not dying but it would be nice for the city to have different small businesses and artists and I think that a great program for me personally I think we have always wanted to open up something downtown,” said Passman.

The mayor announced the program earlier this year as a part of the effort to reimagine and revive the city’s ailing downtown corridor which has seen a wave of vacant offices and storefronts, amid complaints about crime, and open-air drug markets.

“We’re very hopeful that this will do a number of things,” said Sarah Dennis Phillips, executive director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

“That it will increase foot traffic it will increase liveliness in the downtown and it will have the opportunity of supporting some new, creative and exciting small business concepts in a way that may launch them into being a permanent store front,” said Phillips.

Nine vacant spaces will initially be activated for three months, but the pop-up tenants could potentially expand those leases – and the city says grant funding is available to help.   

The list of pop-up businesses includes outdoor apparel, retail, restaurants, and artists.   

While the goal is to increase traffic, some are cynical about the plan.

“You can’t have thieves running around, you can’t have windows broken,” said Paul Ayanian of Le Regency Deli Café.

He said some other things need to change before new businesses roll in.

“Business ripped off that has to change, it has to be clean, healthy, homelessness, drug use,” said Ayanian.

Supporters say they’re ready to give it a try.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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