This week we heard back from one of the developers we reached out to who gave us specific information on the development that his company is proposing in the Tenderloin. Additionally, he pointed us in the direction of a an incredibly useful resource - San Francisco Property Information Map. On this website, one can plug in the address for any property in San Francisco and get public information on ownership and site specifics. We plan on using this resource as a means to fill in holes in our proposed development database, given that not all developers are keen on offering up details on their developments.
In our weekly meeting we discussed our progress on our literature review, figuring out how to make it most comprehensive by identifying subject areas that we had not yet read up on. Since most of our sources on community serving retail are focused on food, we plan on shifting toward research of other possible forms of community serving retail.
What We Observed and Learned
In addition to receiving and beginning to analyze the information/data we received from the developers (from which we will continue to glean valuable knowledge), we are continuing to find and review articles related to community-serving retail. In particular this week we looked at some descriptions of projects in the context of providing potential ideas and models for use of commercial space in the Tenderloin.
One such project is the Kitchener Oakland which is a fully-operating commercial kitchen for fledgling food entrepreneurs. The Kitchener Oakland rents out a clean, communal space for startup food businesses to cook/bake and store food at affordable rates as they build their businesses. In the Tenderloin, this model could also work to provide cooking space for residents with limited access to these facilities. However, we would potentially need to find funding or help subsidize rates for people not selling their goods, as the food justice organization Phat Beets Produce does in Oakland for their Farmers’ Market business incubator program.
Another such example is Third Place Books in Seattle, WA. This bookstore is much more than just that, providing a community space for everything from family game nights and exercise classes to health screenings and school plays. The Project for Public Spaces analyzes this project on their website, drawing important connections to sociological theory around community such as those from Ray Oldenburg as well as lays out helpful and practical description and analysis of making businesses that intentionally serve residents into not only beneficial but also financially feasible additions to communities like the Tenderloin.
Critical Analysis / Moving Forward
On Friday, February 26th, we will be going as a group to the Tenderloin to see in person some of the new mixed-use projects in the Tenderloin, as well as to speak with current corner store owners and customers.
When visiting the mixed-use projects, we hope to fill in any gaps we can’t gather from the data we have already been given. Many of these mixed-use projects plan to use the ground floor space for retail, and we are unsure at this point how much of this data we will be able to gather remotely.
We also hope to get a better idea about what other retail options are available in the Tenderloin. Most of our research and field work to date has been about food justice issues focusing on the corner stores, but we need to start thinking about other kinds of community serving retail that might be missing from the Tenderloin. During our first visit to the Tenderloin, the community leaders we met with shared a few things that are missing--dry cleaners, shoemakers, notaries, printing services, salons--but we would also like to explore existing community centers with access to computers and career services.