Long-sought mid-Market revamp renewed 

Mayor Gavin Newsom announced a multipronged plan Thursday to revitalize the mid-Market Street strip, which, despite numerous attempts in the past three decades, continues to attract The City’s darkest elements and scare away businesses.

A key step to transforming the bustling thoroughfare will be to “dust off” a 2005 redevelopment plan for the area that had failed to gain political traction after years of hearings and community meetings, Newsom said.

The plan was intended to create thousands of new housing units, preserve historic buildings and revitalize the neighborhood’s theater district between Fifth and 10th streets, but it failed due to a dispute with lawmakers about whether the plan included enough affordable housing.

The Newsom administration said it intends to revise the plan in a way that will likely exceed affordable-housing mandates, possibly by using a portion of property taxes paid by area businesses for the effort.

Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes the mid-Market Street area and who has criticized the lack of affordability in the 2005 plan, said he would make certain a renewed version remains “dead in the water” if unchanged.

But the redevelopment plan is only one of a number of initiatives to create the arts district.

The City is preparing to dole out $11.5 million in low-interest loans in the coming months to businesses interested in setting up shop there, Newsom said. That’s on top of the low-interest loans already provided to retailers for subtle improvements, such as new storefront awnings, he said.

The City also will help businesses identify every available tax incentive to help them thrive, officials said.

A redevelopment plan would classify the section as a redevelopment area, which would allow The City to use incremental property tax funds to make improvements to the district.

Also, several city departments have launched a coordinated effort to battle criminal activity, graffiti and public urination, including doubling the number of police patrols.

“We’ve been doing much more intensified cleaning of the sidewalks and the streets than we do in other parts of town,” Department of Public Works chief Ed Reiskin said.

The efforts are attracting interest from businesses. John Duggan, owner of Original Joe’s restaurant, which closed down in 2007, now wants to reopen.

“For about 25 years, our customers risked their lives to eat our cheeseburgers,” Duggan said. “I’m very excited by all that is happening in the neighborhood.”

 

New strategies to improve mid-Market area

- Central Market Cultural District Enhancement Fund:
Deliver $11.5 million in low-interest loans to attract businesses.

- Coordinated Historic Tax Incentives: Combine all financial tools available to underwrite historic rehabilitation projects and to make incentives readily available to property owners.

- Central Market Redevelopment Plan: Re-examine stalled efforts to make area a redevelopment project area; would offer powerful tax-increment-financing tools to support transformation.

- Better Market Street Project: Focus on public space improvements, pedestrian enhancements, reliable transit service and bicycle accessibility; repave Market Street in 2013.

Source: Mayor’s Office

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