The stretch of mid-Market between 5th and 8th remains a pretty major blight for San Francisco, due in large part to the vacant and boarded up storefronts at the street level creating what retail consultants call a "missing tooth" affect that discourages foot traffic. Tourists who have the unfortunate fate of staying at the Hotel Whitcomb -- which likely markets itself in Europe as being Union Square-adjacent -- find themselves walking at a near jogging pace as they race from 8th Street down to Powell, and dancing around the urine and check-cashing brouhaha at 7th, and the daily circus at 6th.

The Bay Citizen/NYT recently talked to various arts organization stakeholders in the area, like Bill Schwartz of the San Francisco Theater Festival, who was severely disheartened after the Board of Supervisors killed the Mid-Market Redevelopment Plan back in '05. But now with the Mayor's $11.5M loan program for arts in the neighborhood, and with a $250,000 grant from the NEA to be matched by almost $1M in private and city funds, it seems like there is "an escalation" going on of late, as Luggage Store Gallery owner Darryl Smith puts it.