SF enters phase 2 of 'Vacant to Vibrant' program with merchants getting 3 months of free rent

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Sunday, June 16, 2024
SF's 'Vacant to Vibrant' program to offer 3 months of free rent
Last September, the city started the "Vacant to Vibrant" program and received over a thousand applications. Now they are entering phase two.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There have been a record 18 million small businesses nationwide seeking to open over the past three years. San Francisco is tapping into this trend to help downtown recover.

Last September, the city started the "Vacant to Vibrant" program and received over a thousand applications. Now they are entering phase two.

"To be in downtown San Francisco is really about visibility for us," said Marta Gorski, Public Glass Gallery Management consultant.

Their main location is in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood, but now they are expanding as part of the city's vacant to vibrant program.

"It would be impossible without it. Like many organizations and institutions, we content in the rents in San Francisco," said Gorski.

RELATED: 'Vacant to Vibrant': SF program expands to help more pop-up businesses fill downtown vacancies

San Francisco initiative Vacant to Vibrant helps pop-up businesses set up in downtown vacancies and is expanding to 11 additional businesses.

Last year, San Francisco's Vacant to Vibrant program was launched to help bring back life to downtown. Phase one started with 17 business pop ups. Phase two starts next week with 11 businesses in 8 different properties. One of those locations is Salesforce Park.

"Welcome to Aurora Centro a spinoff of Alimentary Aurora the shop that I opened in Potrero Hill 3-years-and-a-half ago," said Dario Barbone, the owner Aurora Centro on Salesforce Park.

RELATED: 'Seeing the potential': SF's Vacant to Vibrant pop-ups hope to extend their stay in city

San Francisco's Vacant to Vibrant pop-up shops hope to extend their stay in the city as foot traffic is coming back.

Businesses don't have to pay rent for the first 3 months and have an option to extend their stay.

"They get free rent from the property owners. We offer them additional financial resources, grant money that they can use for tenant improvement and help with their move in," said Jenais Zarlin, Co-founder and Chief Impact Officer at SF New Deal.

San Francisco's strategy is one of many used across the state to help other downtowns recover. Friday, Assembly member Matt Haney met with labor representatives to address downtown challenges across California.

"We have to make sure we filled back these office buildings convert some of them to housing. That we fill up our vacant retail. That we support our small businesses and restaurants but in all of that let's make sure that we do it in a way that uplifts the people who do that work," said Assembly member Haney.

To uplift this community, San Francisco is hoping to do more.

"We are continuing to invest in this program, and we are hoping to build on it in the next budget with more pop ups and more spaces downtown," said Laurel Arvanitidis, Director of Business Development SF Office of economic and workforce development.

The Mayor's next budget is planning on $4.5 million to continue supporting businesses in downtown and citywide.

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