Yes, there are vacant building galore. Perhaps, even, there are a few questionable businesses that may or may not occupy the other seemingly-vacant buildings. Some are in disrepair, some should be torn down altogether, some just need a little love. But others—others, I say—are getting sexified; prettied; dolled up, if you will.
Let us first look at the Red Castle Empire, with game store on one end and its soon-to-be late night, caffeine and panini fueling station for its gamers (and non-gamers, too) next door. The building’s owner is now knee-deep in a full-on renovation that first stripped the hideous green awning a couple months ago; has since added windows to compliment the original and newly exposed ones on the corner; and is now restoring the original brick that revealed itself after the awning came down. After the building gets its final polishing in the weeks to come, the only thing left will be to fill the vacant corner space.
If you walk a couple blocks east, you’ll stumble across an O’Malley’s that is like its twin version, but with cleaner skin, fancier clothes, and some fresh new kicks. But the clothes, skin, and shoes are really new windows, a paint job and even a raised garden bed on the sidewalk.
Back west, now, Green Noise Records has set up shop in what used to be a commercial space that sagged, slanted, and probably would have fallen over in the current three-day arctic wind blast. Fortunately, someone came along, fixed up the space, and said, “Hey, Green Noise, how about a space to call your own since the landlords on Gladstone jacked up your rent.” And voila: storefront improvement and new business in the hood. Ditto with its neighbors, Nayar Taqueria and Renaissance Guitars. The spaces look improved and real businesses occupy them (sorry, Ma Tona’s didn’t count).
Back to Red Castle, though. Once the renovation of that building is complete, the only thing left will be to find a tenant for the lone, vacant retail space that’s left. Surely it’ll be an easier sell with a spruced up building and thriving businesses neighboring it, and perhaps now (soon) will end the rotating door of in-and-out businesses in that commercial strip. You know, since we’re getting all sexy and stuff.
One side note: it’s worth mentioning, too, that there’s a grassroots effort to improve the visual appeal of some of the less-than-cared-for buildings on Foster, as well. (You know who/where they are.) The Foster Window Project aims to add a little more vibrancy to the corridor, engage some of the absentee property owners, and raise the profile of our commercial strip through a series of art installations. You can find more on that here.
So as the visual appeal of our commercial spaces improve, what should fill them? Surely Foster needs a grocer, but that’s out of our hands and it certainly wouldn’t happen in a small retail space. So aside from grocery store, what would you all like to see on Foster? What would serve the needs of the community, what would be supported and thrive?