SF mayor announces $6 million investment to help Powell Street corridor near Union Square

City leaders hope a new proposal to reinvigorate a street that's seen a lot of store closures will help get the area back on track

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
SF mayor announces $6M investment to help struggling Powell St.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a plan to invest $6 million dollars into the Powell Street corridor near Union Square.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a plan to invest $6 million dollars into the Powell Street corridor near Union Square on Tuesday.

Just as the historic cable cars have to get on a turn table to turn around and change directions at the foot of Powell Street, city leaders want to take this area, filled with empty spaces, in a new direction.

"We need to reverse direction from where we are now and we need to get back on track to recover downtown and to be the great city that we know that we are," Amanda Eaken, the SFMTA Board Chair said.

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According to Breed, the investment is specifically for the area of Powell Street stretching from Geary to Market, where the cable cars turn around.

"That will be street improvements, to change the conditions to make the sidewalks wider, the streets more inviting, easier to get on the cable cars and the other thing it will do is provide support for those who want to start businesses along that area," Breed said.

Meaning, resources around tenant improvements and cutting through the red tape in order to start a business in this area.

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Breed says this also means, reimagining the use of vacant spaces that line Powell Street.

"Our goal is to provide you the resource in order to do the build out necessary to get business going in this corridor," she said.

SFMTA partnering with Breed in this investment, which they say is critical to downtown's economic recovery, in order to continue to attract people from across the world.

"This investment that we're making is going to improve the streetscape and design, create a welcoming connection between a very critical transit hub, Powell Street, Muni and Bart, welcoming people into this iconic Union Square neighborhood," Eaken said.

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Acknowledging public safety concerns in this area, Police Chief Bill Scott says the city's biggest crime category is theft, which he says, is down by eight percent this year. Still, he's asking for the community's support in improving this area as a whole.

"Just support us, that's all we ask and it will get better because it's getting better," Scott said.

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And Breed says the plan to revitalize this area is also changing perceptions of the city.

"San Francisco is not the doom gloom that everyone says it is," Breed said. "There is no doubt in my mind that with the investments and the work we're going to do together, that we'll emerge stronger that we ever have before."

Breed also mentioned that while the city has a 27% vacancy rate for office space right now, she listed a number of businesses that have resigned their leases like Levi's and many that have future plans to move to the area like Ikea.

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