Vacant to Vibrant Expands: Mayor Breed Announces New Storefronts Added to Successful Downtown Program


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Mayor London N. Breed joined the Office of Economic Workforce and Development (OEWD) and program partner SF New Deal today to announce the second cohort of awardees for the City’s Vacant to Vibrant program, a component of the Mayor’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future that is designed to help small businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, and cultural organizations activate vacant storefronts.  

The second cohort of Vacant to Vibrant expands to the East Cut, Financial District and Yerba Buena neighborhoods, and includes eight storefronts which will be activated by a range of small businesses, nonprofit organizations, artists, and makers representing unique concepts, operations, and industries. Each of these grantees will be offered a rent-free storefront space for three months beginning this summer with the potential to extend their leases.

Of the original nine properties involved in the inaugural cohort of the program, seven local businesses have signed long-term leases Downtown. These businesses will receive additional grant funding and technical assistance from SF New Deal, made possible through today’s announcement of Wells Fargo’s expanded financial commitment to Vacant to Vibrant having served as a Presenting Sponsor of the program since last fall.

"We are working every day to bring creative solutions and vibrancy not just to our Downtown, but neighborhoods across the City. Vacant to Vibrant is a great example of how we are filling vacant storefronts while supporting our small businesses," said Mayor London Breed. "I want to thank SF New Deal for helping us to build on the momentum of this successful program that celebrates our business community as we reimagine San Francisco's future. Together through public private partnerships, we are creating a stronger San Francisco."

"With Vacant to Vibrant, we're not only bringing in new businesses but also rekindling the spirit of our community,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey. "This initiative is more than a project; it's a commitment to restoring the vibrancy and vitality of our streets, creating opportunities for growth and connection for residents and entrepreneurs alike. I happily welcome these new businesses to my district."

Pop-up activations were selected from a pool of over 1,200 applications and narrowed down through a comprehensive review process by an advisory committee made up of local business owners, artists, community-based organizations, and property owners. Finalists were presented to participating property owners, who made the final selections.

"Thank you to all the entrepreneurs, building owners, and partners that shared our vision in the Vacant to Vibrant Program," said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "This program created opportunities for small businesses to fill seven vacant storefronts in our Downtown. As we launch the next round, we are excited to build on this momentum and bring more activity into Downtown."  

Managed by OEWD, Vacant to Vibrant launched in 2023 in partnership with SF New Deal, a local non-profit organization that strengthens neighborhoods by making it easier for under-resourced small business owners to succeed. SF New Deal also worked to secure additional funding from Wells Fargo Bank, which donated $1 million to support additional grant funding and technical assistance from SF New Deal.  

“San Francisco’s unique small businesses are the heartbeat of every neighborhood and are critical to the revitalization of downtown. It’s been inspiring to see how the first Vacant to Vibrant cohort has brought new life downtown, and we’re thrilled to continue to support their success and expand the program to more locations with exciting new activations,” said Simon Bertrang, SF New Deal’s Executive Director. “Vacant to Vibrant demonstrates what’s possible through strong and effective public-private collaboration.”

“San Francisco’s vibrant economy depends on the strength of the small business community,” said Darlene Goins, head of philanthropy and community impact at Wells Fargo. “In pursuit of a resurgence of downtown San Francisco, Vacant to Vibrant is a prime example of the innovation and can-do spirit of San Franciscans working towards a common goal.”

The second cohort consists of eight primary tenant activators who may be eligible to extend their lease with the property owners at the end of the three-month period, with additional supplementary tenant placements underway who will also be present in these storefront spaces. With property placement spread across the East Cut, Financial District, and Yerba Buena neighborhoods, the new cohort includes the following small businesses, nonprofit organizations, artists, and makers:  

The East Cut

  • Aurora Centro: A petite San Francisco deli with a curious kitchen, offering eclectic cheeses, charcuterie, fish tins, chips, snacks, and more.
  • Hungry Crumbs: San Francisco's premier cookie bakery, serving up handcrafted, luscious cookies across the Bay Area.
  • JUMA Ventures’ Steep Creamery:  Steep is a youth-run and led boba and ice cream shop focused on management and leadership training for young people from underserved communities in San Francisco; owned by Juma Ventures, a nonprofit social enterprise that operates businesses to employ young people for long-term career success.  
  • Koolfi Creamery: Small-batch ice cream shop offering flavors made with the best local and imported ingredients.
  • Paper Son Coffee: Quintessential SF coffee shop offering both locally roasted coffee and adventurous new flavor profiles.

The Financial District

  • 7x7 Social Club: Longstanding SF media publication offering original, authentic content around the Bay Area’s favorite pastimes including dining and drinking, travel and the great outdoors, arts and culture, style and wellness.
  • SAINTFLORA: Full-service floral and online shop specializing in unconventional flower experiences.

Yerba Buena  

  • Public Glass Gallery: Nonprofit arts organization home to San Francisco's only public-access glass studio and school.

Making it easier to start and grow a business is one of nine core strategies within Mayor Breed’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future and small businesses are an essential component of that plan.

Accounting for approximately 95% of businesses and employing nearly 1 million Bay Area residents, the small business sector is a vital contributor to the City’s economy and vibrancy. Mayor Breed has directed over $100 million in grants and loans to support more than 6,400 awards to small businesses.  

"My wife and I are very excited to be included in the second cohort of Vacant to Vibrant because we get to be a part of the revival story of the heart of San Francisco - its downtown. We look forward to creating a joyous space for our neighbors, visitors, and our queer, women, South Asian, and progressive communities to gather and enjoy our unique take on Indian-inspired craft ice cream and savory bites,” said Priti Narayanan, owner of Koolfi Creamery & Cafe.

“The opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of downtown San Francisco is huge and meaningful. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the first round of small businesses that contribute to the efforts, and I am excited to see what comes next,” said Matthew Kosoy, local owner of Rosalind Bakery as well as graduate from Vacant to Vibrant’s first cohort that signed a long-term lease downtown earlier this year.

Over 130 property applications were received to participate in the program and provide ground floor space for the pop-ups in exchange for an activated space, and up to $5,000 to cover utility expenses and tenant improvements.  

“Kilroy is thrilled to be selected for Round 2 of Vacant to Vibrant,” said Mike Grisso, Senior Vice President, Kilroy Realty Corporation. “We’d like to thank the Mayor, the SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and SF New Deal for their continued work on this vital program.”

The City has implemented key elements of the Mayor’s Roadmap by broadening transportation in the Financial District, heightening safety measures, investing in public space enhancements such as Landing at Leidesdorff, and bringing successful cultural nightlife to Downtown through free events and activations like the Bhangra and Beats Night Market. Tasked with leading the charge on economic recovery, OEWD supports these revitalization measures through programs like Vacant to Vibrant that bring integral foot traffic to San Francisco’s Downtown, while supporting small businesses, the arts, and non-profit organizations.

Visit or call (415) 480-1185 to learn more.


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