San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Police Chief George Gascon and local business owners gathered at a restaurant along Market Street today to announce a new partnership to revitalize the central portion of one of the city’s most well known thoroughfares.
Newsom, speaking at Show Dogs, a restaurant specializing in hot dogs, announced the Central Market Partnership, an effort to coordinate the actions of the city and business and property owners to redevelop the portion of Market Street between Fifth Street and Van Ness Avenue.
The mayor said he recognized that Market Street “is not what it could be, and certainly not what it should be.”
Newsom said a long line of mayors dating back Dianne Feinstein have made it a priority to revitalize an area of San Francisco that has suffered from blight, but “some of our efforts haven’t necessarily taken shape as we hoped.”
He said although all his efforts in his six years of office have not paid dividends, some progress has been made in recent efforts to improve the aesthetics of the street and its safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
“We’re at a point where I think we can deliver,” Newsom said. “I’ve got just two years left, but I don’t want to be just another mayor who made big promises on mid-Market and can’t deliver.”
Part of the plan, mentioned in the mayor’s State of the City speech Wednesday night, is to offer $11.5 million in low-interest loans to businesses that contribute to the area.
City officials are also in talks with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about loans of up to $2 million for property owners and businesses that can generate jobs for low or moderate-income workers.
Newsom said these loans will help avoid gentrification in the area and “provide a framework to democratize that opportunity for people to enter these spaces that otherwise could not afford it.”
The plans also include pedestrian enhancements and increased bicycle accessibility, along with an already-in-place pilot traffic project to divert eastbound vehicles off the street to alleviate traffic.
The Police Department has also stepped up patrols along Market Street to try to eliminate the problems of crime and homelessness in the area.
Gascon, who was sworn in as police chief in August, said before joining the department, he walked through the Tenderloin and saw what he described as “unacceptable conditions.”
He said the increased police presence in the area will help out local businesses.
“We recognize that public safety is an important component to economic development,” Gascon said.
John Duggan, whose family founded Original Joe’s, a popular restaurant on Taylor Street that closed in 2007 after a fire, said crime was always a concern for customers at his family’s business.
“For about 25 years, our customers risked their lives to eat our cheeseburgers,” he said.
The family is currently working on a strategy to reopen the restaurant in the area, and Duggan said “we’re excited about what’s happening in the neighborhood.”
Newsom said he hoped the project showed “the city’s willingness to try new things” in the neighborhood.
“Some things will work, some things won’t, but we’re not willing any longer to accept the status quo and argue for mediocrity in mid-Market,” he said.