Posted by: BayAreaComRE | January 14, 2010

Construction for underground subway to begin this summer

The Federal Transit Administration has given the city of San Francisco the go-ahead to launch the final design stage for the $1.57 billion, 1.7 mile light rail between Chinatown and SOMA. Street level construction along 4th Street and Stockton St. will begin this summer, forcing 12 retailers to vacate the sub-sidewalk space.  Neiman Marcus and Macy’s have already begun finding new space for their stock and infrastructure. Barney’s put up a fight for their perfume and cosmetics space below sidewalk level – only to lose to the Board of Supervisors in a 10-0 vote on Tuesday. (Full story)

The amount of retail space being reclaimed by the city is sure to affect not only current sales (that is Macy’s Martha Stewart Collection and the Neiman Marcus boutique space) but is making the retailers antsy about where to relocate and more so, how much it will cost. Construction will continue until 2018 when service is expected to begin, but the widespread disruption over the next several years is hard to gage. For instance, Muni lines may be re-routed to avoid the confusion of construction while only two lanes of Stockton could stay open to cars at any given point. Some may argue that the construction and destruction of prime retail space is irrevocable and nearly impossible to replace. But, the convenience of an underground light rail just may increase foot traffic in and around the prime retail locations surrounding Union Square.

Sources: SF Biz Times, San Francisco Chronicle

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