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February 22, 2020


2015 San Pedro Prep Softball Preview -

Friday, May 1, 2015

Art Preview: ‘Non-Native’ by Ingrid Dietrich -

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

San Pedro Prep Baseball 2015 Preview -

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Recapping The Final Gaffey Street Community Workshop -

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tiffany Torres Bears Down For Success At POLA High -

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

San Pedro Fish Market Launches Scholarship Contest -

Thursday, January 15, 2015

San Pedro’s Rita Fiorenza Is A Basketball Revelation -

Thursday, January 15, 2015

‘No Lane Reductions’ As Gaffey Street Redevelopment Plans Move Forward -

Friday, January 9, 2015

San Pedro Prep Sports 2014 Fall Review -

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LAPD Harbor Division and Philie B’s Pizza To Host Charity Events This Weekend -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

San Pedro Holiday Parade Returns Sunday with a Twist -

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Wonderland Comes To The Waterfront -

Monday, December 1, 2014

One-Way Streets May Come to Downtown San Pedro -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

San Pedro’s Two Newest Volleyball Skyscrapers: Allison Kittell & Tracy Folchi -

Monday, November 10, 2014

San Pedro and POLA Prep Girls Cross-Country Preview: Running For More Glory -

Thursday, November 6, 2014

International Craft Beer Festival Comes to Crafted This Weekend -

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Second Workshop for Urban Greening Project Receives Warm Reception from Community -

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Construction of Mixed-Use Apartment Complex on Gaffey Could Begin Next Spring -

Thursday, September 25, 2014

UPDATE: Blaze Inside Port of L.A. in Wilmington Nearly Contained; Air Quality Deemed ‘Safe’ -

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

San Pedro High Football Off To Another Strong Start -

Monday, September 22, 2014

Downtown SP Hasn’t Shaken its Vacancy Problem

A vacant 6th Street business property (photo by Megan Barnes)

Downtown San Pedro looks a lot different than it did half a decade ago. Trolleys run up and down cleaned streets under criss crossing lights that have given the area new charm. Just two months ago, the streets were blocked off for a festival celebrating the town’s 125th anniversary that drew thousands.

But despite all the momentum, there remains an undeniable, and quite visible problem: a number of “For Rent” signs still hang in shop windows up and down Sixth and Seventh streets. Last month, Williams’ Book Store closed its doors after more than 100 years, and Jolly Burrito packed up and moved to Pacific Avenue.

“Nobody’s going to rent an empty space when on both sides of it is a business that’s suffering or another empty space,” says Warren Gunter, owner of P&M Management, which houses businesses like Niko’s Pizzeria and The Surplus Guy. He says two of his 12 spaces are currently vacant.

Gunter himself owned the former San Pedro Jewelry Mart on Sixth Street. He thinks a lack of advertising to attract new day-to-day customers is what keeps tenants with staying power, and who will increase property values, from opening up shop.

“You could fire a cannon down the sidewalk. There’s no traffic downtown because there is no effort to bring in new customers on a day-to-day basis. The idea of these two-day parties that bring a lot of people downtown — well what happens the rest of the 365 days of the year?”

But others say the pre-Del Amo Mall days of residents doing much of their shopping downtown are over and it’s time to find a new brand or niche market to draw visitors. With the success of the First Thursday Artwalk and two new theater companies moving into an already theater-rich area, downtown seems to be shaping itself as an arts and dining district.

“There’s a certain charm around here. I think more and more people will think of this as a place to come eat and retailers will be more of the funky stuff,” says Alan Johnson of Jerico Development, another major commercial real estate company downtown, and one of the developers overseeing the makeover of Ports O’ Call Village. He estimates vacancies are about what they were when the business improvement district, or PBID, was formed six years ago, but says the area is making progress finding its new identity.

“Galleries and funky little shops will appeal to a crowd that’s looking for something different because we’re not going to be Hermosa Beach, we’re not going to be Long Beach; we have to carve our little niche.”

But downtown’s thriving community of artists and galleries aren’t necessarily open to the public on a regular basis, adding to the number of closed storefronts. Some are only open during First Thursdays.

“I hear a lot of concern about that, but otherwise they might not be occupied, so I think it’s actually a real plus,” Johnson says. “I think they really are central to the community we are.”

Inconsistent business hours are a problem among businesses downtown across the board. Some of downtown’s strongest businesses are restaurants with regular hours.

“I think the businesses that are going to survive are going to be the ones that create regular hours and a product that people will want to buy,” says Eric Eisenberg, owner of the Renaissance Group, which owns much of the commercial real estate downtown.

He estimates his vacancies might be better than what they were six years ago. The Renaissance Group recently hired a new marketing director who’s brought in a surge of inquiries through online marketing.

“Do we have more vacancies than we’d like? Absolutely. But the reality is we’ve started a new type of advertising and I think if you talk to me in two months you’re going to see a lot of the vacancies rented.”

Eisenberg’s glass-half-full view of the vacancies is shared by others who stress that downtown’s transformation will take time.

“For the first five years we’ve concentrated on infrastructure, making the district an appealing place to come to, and now it’s time to start marketing,” says Valerie Goodman, PBID’s marketing director. “There are a lot of communities that have been really successful in reinventing themselves and attracting businesses, like Pine Street in Downtown Long Beach, but it takes time and doesn’t happen over night.”

PBID has received some criticism for its focus on beautification.

“No potential business is going to say, ‘I’m going to open a business because there’s twinkle lights and a red trolley car that runs up and down the street empty most of the time,’” Gunter says.

Johnson, who has also been doing business downtown for 30 years, however, thinks it’s a logical approach.

“To me, you don’t just market and scream at people 100 times to come down here,” he says. “You make something that people are going to want to come to and then you market it, so I think we are doing it in exactly the right order.”

3 Responses to “Downtown SP Hasn’t Shaken its Vacancy Problem”
  1. drugs destroy people says:

    Last time I visited old san pedro on 6th street , I sat outside Grinds coffee shop , next a BUM comes to my table reeking in Urine and asks me if I was a “fag”. I tolerated this Revolting creature for a couple of minutes until he gets up and throws his 40 ounce can of malt liquor in my face. I was going to pound his ugly stinky face in but decided I did not want to go to jail. So I followed him for a few blocks to his Rat hole. On the way to this creatures hole I asked a few of the good people nearby to call police for me and they did not want to get “involved”. Downtown Pedro is a COMPLETE DISASTER. I have stopped going there but I do pass by there once in a while . Many many stores Closed. Most people do not like being assaulted by mentally ill people walking the streets. When friends and family visit me in Pedro, I take them to safer places where the chances of being assaulted are less. Until the city gets serious about the Mentally ill Drugs,Violence, homeless, runaways,beggers, and criminals walking the streets of old san pedro there will be a LOT of empty stores and empty streets.

    • Valerie Smith-Griffin says:

      I tend to agree with some of what you state. The homeless issue is indeed an ISSUE and one that our city officials haven’t fully addressed. I was told by a former worker at former Councilwoman Hahn’s office when I told her I was concerned about this issue “Oh they have a place to go – it’s in Long Beach.” As if many of them would hop a bus with no money or little money and gather at a shelter across the bridge. EVERY AM en route to work I see a man that sleeps/lives at the bus stop on 13th and Gaffey, a regular at that bus stop – another sleeps NIGHTLY – till the morning hours, wrapped in plastic for warmth, underneath that many years hung Gaffey sign: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” I disagree with you on “Downtown Pedro is a complete disaster” because several of the shops aren’t – they are well managed and have some wonderful items to purchase. The DBA needs to take an HONEST look/evaluation at WHY nothing is moving and WHY folks look elsewhere – until they do – we’re looking at stagnant water.

      • drugs destroy people says:

        Hello Valerie, sad to hear about our politicians attitude towards homelessness. I drive Gaffey everyday and know these homeless people on 13th st and the person on 1st street . They have been there for YEARS. Very sad situation. You are right on Downtown Pedro not being a Total disaster. There are many pockets of popular stores. I decided to visit 6th street and I do like a few places there. I hope they can make it work. The bookstore closing was a sad event. Does not make sense for a landlord to have an empty store for months at a time. HATE to see so many Pot stores open . Those green crosses are everywhere. But that’s what so many people want, drugs. Fixing up my house so I can move out of here. I hope the LAPD helicopter is not flying around when the buyers look at the house. It has been flying really low the last few days. I care about san pedro, I hope to see it looking better one day.

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