As a destination the Castro is thriving, as a neighborhood/community it is failing. Why? (27 empty storefronts)
Once a place with such a concentrated gay business sense and activism, the Castro has become a place where I see this identity slipping away before its time. Don’t get me wrong. I love the tourists. I love the families, straight and gay. But I don’t love what we are projecting as community. If we can even call it ‘community’ anymore. And while I understand bar culture thriving in the Castro, is the reason there is a Castro, we are losing examples of non-alcoholic entrepreneurism. Which is a complete and total shame.
Thank goodness for the GLBT Historical Society is there, otherwise Britney Spears wouldn’t have had anywhere to pose that didn’t have a backdrop of booze.
Perhaps evolution is taking its natural course and the gay identity is being pushed out of the neighborhood where it was born, for profit. Or is it something else?
Maybe this is the future we’ve been fighting for–total integration, assimilation, homogeneity–at a price tag we can’t afford. The issue for me is our fight isn’t over. It’s really just begun.
Now that things are moving toward a more integrated future we need to celebrate our history and be strategic about our future. We need to lead through example and help people understand how the differences, we are inherently born with, can actually be advantageous. Being able to drink the rest of the country under the table shouldn’t be our standout attribute.
Currently there are 27 empty storefronts. Many of which were iconic gay businesses that created a sense of community and drove activism through example.
I was walking through the Castro last Thursday baffled by the amount of vacancies. Then I saw this post on Monday by Michael Petrelis on his blog Petrelis Files. While it’s worth a full read, I’ll include an excerpt here:
There are more than two-dozen empty retail spaces, restaurants and an entire building up for rent or available for purchase in the Castro district, and the reasons for rather high numbers are many, starting with the continuing recession and stretching to greedy landlords wanting too much coin.
The Castro, as with all gay or hip enclaves, is always evolving and recreating itself, but I sense a deeply nervous entrepreneurial community worrying about the businesses of the area and an equally anxious grassroots network of activist wanting greater say in who controls local public spaces.
Then I saw this post on craigstlist — $10,000 for 2,000 square feet. But YAY, there is parking…no wonder things aren’t renting. Who can afford the rent?
I’m not giving up, just putting it out there. I think we can do more. I have some ideas. I hope you do too.
Bevan, I’ll be calling you very soon.