It’s encouraging news for retail that Gap is opening four new storefronts downtown, but they’re all in office space that Gap Inc. already owns, so this won’t put a dent in any retail vacancies.
As of press time for this article, the SF Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation committee is currently holding a hearing on vacancies of both office and retail space “specifically in the Financial District, SOMA, and Embarcadero.” And during this session we get what appears to be some unexpected good news on that front — but on further review, is not going to fill up any of the current vacancies, which have been a burgeoning problem since before the pandemic.
Happy Monday everyone! We're tuning into the @sfbos Land Use and Transportation Committee and its hearing on the current state of office buildings and commercial spaces, particularly downtown. Sup. @Ahsha_Safai asked for hearing last year and wants to see where we are now. pic.twitter.com/WHtnaiIcpH— The Frisc (@TheFrisc) February 7, 2022
The good news is that according to the San Francisco Business Times, Gap Inc. is opening four new retail stores along the Embarcadero, which are “Opening Spring 2022” according to signage on the storefronts. The stores will all be outposts for Gap-owned brands: The Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.
But temper this news with the fact that they are not taking over any vacant storefronts. The Gap already owns this building, and it’s their corporate headquarters. They are merely converting the ground-floor spaces from offices to retail stores.
According to the Business Times, “An application filed last year with the San Francisco Planning Department shows the company is converting 17,774 square feet of first-floor general office space to retail.”
And really, these are just more modest reopenings of already closed stores. In August 2020, the Gap announced it was closing three of its four San Francisco stores, including the flagship store at Powell Street, plus the stores at the Embarcadero Center and Stonestown Galleria. So it remains to be seen if this is even a net increase in employment, and with all due respect to the East Cut, this is a less visible area than Union Square to the Embarcadero.
It is technically a rebound or comeback of sorts (and is still pending Planning Commission approval, where that commission may try to nag them into taking over true vacant retail spots). But in terms of retail vacancies, these new Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, and Old Navy stores will not really fill a gap.
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