The search for tenants to fill the neighborhood’s two anchor storefronts is underway. Merchants and neighbors said they can't arrive soon enough.
Realtors for two of Ocean Avenue’s largest vacant retail storefronts say that prospective tenants are taking interest in leasing — an outcome long sought by nearby business owners and residents for the activity it could bring to the heart of Ingleside.
1830 Ocean Ave. and 1760 Ocean Ave. — which previously housed Target and CVS Pharmacy, respectively — each had signs put up in August to seek out tenants as soon as possible, realtors at Maven and Blatteis Realty Company said separately. Both are in preliminary talks with prospective tenants and are open to the different types.
The former CVS space, located on the northeastern side of Dorado Terrace and Ocean Avenue, closed in early 2017; Fresenius Medical Care, the company that owns the property and the adjacent space east at 1738 Ocean Ave., last year canceled its plan to open in the former CVS space. The former Target space that’s now up for lease, located on the northwestern side of the street corner, closed in June 2021.
Residents and business owners told The Ingleside Light that the two closures had negative impacts on the neighborhood, and that the prospect of having those spaces filled is exciting — potentially a boon to the neighborhood’s recovery from the pandemic.
“It’s nice to see there are for lease signs up on the old CVS and Target spaces,” said Peter Tham, vice-president of the Ingleside Merchants Association and a realtor who lives in the neighborhood. “It’s my hope that we can have these vacancies filled so that our corridor and our neighborhood can be kind of revitalized.”
Foot traffic fell substantially when the two businesses closed, several Ingleside business owners said.
Tham recalled "definitely seeing" a huge difference in foot traffic on that section of Ocean Avenue when Target closed. Ahmad Murad, owner of That’s Amore Woodfire Pizza, said that foot traffic appeared to drop by around 60% on the block when Target closed.
It’s unclear how much the drop in foot traffic translated to a loss of customers for businesses in the area, and it seems to vary depending on businesses’ specific locations and offerings.
At YogaSF, a few shops south of Ocean on Ashton avenues, customers come specifically for yoga, and there's a lack of a storefront appearance on the corridor, meaning it’s less impacted by the closures, said Sydney Waters, the assistant studio manager and yoga teacher. Half a block west on Ocean Avenue at Benjamin Moore Creative Paint, and employee said that the shop’s ability to cater to painters has kept people coming in.
One restaurateur, who asked to not be named, said that business dropped around 20% when CVS closed and another 30% when Target closed. Customers would say they were headed to Target and would stop by for food.
“Right now, I have no idea what can be approved over there, but pretty much anything that comes in is going to help the neighborhood and bring in foot traffic,” the restaurateur said of the two vacant storefronts. “It needs something there.”
“With the lack of businesses combined with certain business types closing early, what restaurants remain open at night feel really isolated, so with the lack off an active walking coordinator due to a lack of foot traffic, it feels as though people can vandalize storefronts and not have people notice it as they would in the morning,” Tham said.
Customers also lose out when the storefronts remain closed.
Geri Hunt, an Ingleside resident and a barista at Java Cafe, said she would spend time at Target to cool off after her shifts when she was a barista at the ballpark.
“It was a weird space to collect my thoughts, as well as it was really nice because I don’t drive, so having a reasonably priced food selection was really nice within walking distance so I didn’t have to take any groceries on the bus or anything like that,” she said.
Hunt said she’d like to see either spot occupied by some sort of grocery store or a collective space like an indoor flea-market where artists could rent it out for a weekend, or possibly a place for community events.
Tham said he’d love to see some type of public market in at least one of the spaces, such as the Public Market in Emeryville, the Lake Chabot Public Market in Castro Valley or the Garden Theater at Willow Glen in San Jose.
“I think cutting it up into smaller shared spaces would allow more small businesses to open and potentially reducing startup costs versus trying to open in a large retail complex like Stonestown,” Tham said. “It could also be repurposed as a farmer's market on some days, which we don't have in our neighborhood because we don't have the open space for it.”
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