I recently did a blog about "San Francisco – Does It Still Have Its Slutty Side?" Before I published the blog, I asked my good friend Heath how accurate things were in the story. He said, things have changed drastically in the year he has been in San Francisco, living just blocks from The Castro.
It seems that there is a lot changing in Downtown San Francisco and The Castro. Is it all bad?
One of the nation's most celebrated gay bars may soon go out of business after a new landlord more than doubled the rent, part of a trend that has old-timers lamenting that the San Francisco they know and love — dilapidated and diverse — is disappearing.
At 50 years old, the Stud is the longest continuously running gay bar in the city and known throughout the country as one of the bohemian, gender-bending, anything-goes institutions that made San Francisco into a gay mecca. A sign at the front door, decorated with gold tinsel, reads: “Everybody is welcome at The Stud. Dream It. Be It.”
In June, the building was sold, and the bar's owner received a notice that the monthly rent for the 2,800-square-foot space would leap from $3,800 to $9,500 in September. On Sunday, he called an emergency meeting to break the news to regulars.
The tale is familiar in a city that is becoming ever wealthier with the arrival of newcomers taking high-paying technology jobs downtown or in nearby Silicon Valley. San Francisco has steadily shed coin-op laundries, neighborhood dive bars and auto-repair shops — all certainly part of natural turnover but hurried along by changing owners and rising rents.
In 1992, nearly 1,300 businesses closed or changed locations, according to a 2014 report by the city's budget and legislative analyst. By 2011, that number had grown to nearly 12,800. Last year, voters approved a preservation fund to financially assist longtime small businesses and nonprofits that face steep rent increases.
The Stud could qualify for such help, but it is operating on a month-to-month lease, without the protection of a long-term lease. An agent for the building's new owner, City Commercial Investments LLC, could not be reached for comment on plans for the property.
The rent increase is “not out of the realm of what San Francisco rents are like now,” Stud owner Michael McElhaney said. “But being the type of business we are, doing cabaret shows and drag and having primarily weekend and evening business, it's definitely a tough challenge.” – latimes.com
How long will the bar stay open? For more on this story and what is next, go to latimes.com.
But there are other changes occurring in The Castro. Businesses are moving out for good, shuffling to new places, and new businesses are coming in.
Between June 15th and the end of July, no fewer than 10 restaurants and retail businesses have closed or are set to close in the Castro.
In addition to Books Inc. shuttering on June 15th, Good Feet, Karizma, It’s All About You Salon, and Frame 123 have all recently closed, with A&G Merch planning to close up shop on July 17th and Entour saying goodbye at the end of the month.
Ike’s has decided to move in with Market Street’s Sweet Inspiration, while H Cafe told Hoodline yesterday that it’ll be closing in three weeks to make way for a new restaurant. Did we mention that Church Street Flowers will be leaving at the end of July?
Bergerac said the issue of business closures isn’t unique to the Castro; there are numerous empty storefronts around San Francisco.
However, he also reminds locals that the neighborhood is still welcoming many new and forthcoming businesses to the area, including Dog Eared Books, Nomica, Le Marais Bakery, Castro Fountain, Finn Town, GoHealth Urgent Care, and Myriad Marketplace. – hoodline.com
So not all the news is bad from the Castro and Downtown San Francisco. Shane Downing
(@SCdowning), contributor to Hoodline.com, elaborates on the business turnover. Head over to hoodline.com to read more of his story with sub headings "Consolidating Locations, New Tenants On The Way, and Reshuffling Empty Storefronts, Retail Mysteries, When One Door Closes, Another Opens, Grab Your Burrito: Is Zapata's Next?"
Is this how business will be?
Is it time for an upgrade in The Castro?
Should we fight to keep the old haunts around?