There's some good news on the retail front for San Francisco, with the Union Square-adjacent Emporium Centre San Francisco having signed seven new leases in recent weeks to fill some of the abundant vacancy in the troubled mall.

Still in receivership and seeking a buyer, the 1.5 million-square-foot Market Street mall formerly known as the Westfield San Francisco Centre has recently shown some signs of renewed life. A rebranding took place in March, nine months after the departure of previous owner the Westfield Corporation — and that's when we got the name Emporium San Francisco Centre, a nod to the property's long-ago department store, The Emporium.

In April, the Chronicle noted that three empty spaces in the mall had "leased" signs on them, and today the Chronicle reports from the leasing team that five of the formerly empty retail spaces have signed leases, in addition to two segments of the upstairs office space in the building.

Three new tenants that are already open for business in the mall are A&S Cell Accessories and Repairs, Hey Hi Toys, and Paw Box, which is some sort of vending machine operation for pet treats.

Hey Hi Toys — which mentions selling Hello Kitty and Mario toys and says "From cuddly companions to thrilling electric toys, we’ve got something for every adventurer" — may be a sign that the Emporium's agents are leaning into the trendiness of Japanese products and retailers. Both the Stonestown Galleria and the Japantown Mall having found recent success catering to teens with Japanese and other Asian retailers, and arcade games like claw machines.

Two other retailers are reportedly opening in July at the mall: +Friends, a vintage retailer; and another Japanese retailer, Merkado.

On the office side, the Chronicle reports that the nonprofit career exploration and workforce development organization Opportunities for All has leased 17,000 square feet on the fourth floor. And Block by Block, a company that provides cleaning, landscaping, and security services to community benefit and business improvement districts, including the Union Square BID and the Yerba Buena CBD, has leased space in the building as well.

This still leaves the enormous spaces vacant that were left by the departures of Nordstrom and Cinemark last summer. And last month we learned that the Market Street-facing American Eagle Outfitters would be closing in July.

Other vacancies were earlier left by the closures of Sephora, J. Crew, Hollister, Lucky Brand, The LEGO Store, Adidas, Burberry, and L'Occitane.

Up the street, IKEA's shopping center subsidiary, Ingka Centres, is trying to reimagine an urban mall with Meeting Place — at least that what it has been called in press materials. So far, it consists of an urban-sized IKEA store, and Saluhall, their reimagined two-level food court. Also, the top floor of the building is occupied by Hej! Workshop, a co-working space that doubles as a showroom for IKEA's office furniture.

It's not clear how popular Saluhall or the co-working space have been to date, and the company still has a fair bit of space to fill in the building. Ingka Centres has previously indicated it would be leaning in to more food- and entertainment-based retail.

Sarah Dennis-Phillips, director of SF's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, tells the Chronicle that the city has been working with the Emporium Centre to market to small businesses with limited budgets, implying that they may be getting discounts — in an arguably similar fashion to how the Vacant to Vibrant program is helping to get local small businesses into empty spaces further downtown.

"For too long, many small business owners were priced out of downtown spaces," Dennis-Phillips says in a statement to the Chronicle. "San Francisco Centre’s coordination with the Office of Small Business is part of its re-envisioning of the iconic mall as a place for small businesses to get a foothold and to flourish."

The fourth floor of the mall remains a kind of ghostly shadow of its former self — since it was once home to a collection of higher-end restaurants like Lark Creek Steak and MY China in addition to the movie theater. Those restaurants closed either pre- or mid-pandemic, and have not reopened, while the tidal wave of closures in the mall mostly took place in 2023.