For the past year, a consulting firm has been working on a retail strategy for the Castro and Upper Market, helping to solve the question of why certain retail vacancies in the neighborhood have been hard to fill, what types of retail the neighborhood should be going after, and hopefully why there's now more coffeeshops than there are streetlamps. Though a number of new businesses have opened in the neighborhood over the last year or two, an almost equal number have closed, and overall vacancy remains at 9 percent, which is higher than the citywide average, despite this being an otherwise bustling district. The retail strategy team, lead by Seifel Consulting, will be hosting an open house on June 4 to talk about what they've learned so far, and as Hoodline notes, a big takeaway has to do with the demographics of the neighborhood and how they're shifting.
A survey asked 1200 people, through a combination of on-the-street interviews, telephone interviews, and written surveys by mail, a number of questions about themselves and their shopping habits. What the survey showed was that overall, the Castro remains pretty gay, with 72.5 percent of the people answering the question of whether they identified as LGBTQ saying yes. That number goes up to 77 percent among people who have lived in the neighborhood ten or more years. Overall, among those interviewed on the street, 58 percent identified as LGBTQ.
But given that the neighborhood has seen the addition of as many as 1,000 new residents in newly constructed buildings, not everyone moving in is gay or lesbian, and that stands to reason. The percentages remain over half as you survey new residents, but of the people who have lived in the vicinity two years or less, 61 percent say they are LGBTQ, and of those who have lived there one year or less, it's 55 percent.
Still, that's pretty gay.
Project coordinator Danny Yadegar says that neither he nor Supervisor Scott Wiener thought that the numbers would be so high. "I wasn’t the only one who found it surprising that this large a number of our shoppers [were LGBTQ]," Yadegar says. "None of us guessed the number would be well over 50 percent."
But, he says, given the downward trend, he doesn't think it's a stretch to imagine that the number could dip below 50 percent over the next few years.
Now can we please get a decent doughnut shop over there?