W ITH THE CONTINUING onrush of national and international fashion and cosmetics brands onto upper Fillmore Street, retail space has become so sought after that corporate tenants are willing to pay rent for months while their storefronts sit empty, waiting for city permits to be approved.
A dozen storefronts north of Bush Street are now vacant, but almost all are already leased.
“It looks terrible,” said Lynne Newhouse Segal, new president of the Pacific Heights Residents Association, whose group has expressed concerns about the empty shops.
Among the stores in the works:
• Intermix, the Gap’s newest acquisition, is taking over Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece space at 2223 Fillmore.
• 45rpm, a Japanese clothing brand, got the go-ahead April 14 from the Planning Commission to open at 1905 Fillmore.
• Space NK, a cosmetics company based in London, won approval for its plans to open at 2000 Fillmore, former home of Paolo Shoes, from the commission on April 28.
All are considered “formula retail” chain stores and require a conditional use permit to open on Fillmore. It can take many months to get the permit, although none has ever been rejected. Then building permits must be arranged and approved.
“Everything’s taking longer,” said commercial real estate broker Pam Mendelsohn, who has leased many of the Fillmore storefronts. “There’s a lot of things in process. It just takes a lot longer to get permits.”
Two of the empty spaces housed businesses owned by Starbucks Coffee. Starbucks still controls the vacant corner at 2201 Fillmore. “Unfortunately, we still have no additional details to share at this time,” a Starbucks spokesperson said. The space at 2043 Fillmore that housed Starbucks’ La Boulange has reverted to founder Pascal Rigo, who said he is contemplating a pizzeria, a rotisserie or another Boulangerie.
“We should be making a final decision within the next two weeks,” Rigo said. “We should be reopen by midsummer if everything goes well.”
Among the other businesses with leases on the street are Frye Boots at 2047 Fillmore and Ardis Coffee at 1903 Fillmore. The Mac cosmetics shop at 2011 Fillmore is being remodeled and will reopen. Blue Bottle Coffee is coming to 2455 Fillmore.