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IPFS News Link • California

EXCLUSIVE: Abandoned stores, streets overtaken by the homeless and drug-addled...

• By RUTH STYLES and LEWIS PENNOCK

A photo plastered on the empty windows shows it as it used to be: a colorful branch of Gap surrounded by crowds of cheerful tourists and not a drug addict or scrap of litter in sight. 

Today, San Francisco's once bustling Union Square and downtown area is a shadow of its former self: rows of empty stores, sparse crowds even on peak weekend shopping days and nearby hotels – including a huge Hilton - unable to cover their mortgage payments. 

The historic Flood Building, a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, stands largely empty: Gap has gone along with nearly every other business in the property with the exception of a tired branch of Dr. Martens and an Urban Outfitters store offering 70 per cent discounts. 

On the other side of Market Street is the soon-to-be sold Westfield San Francisco Center – its doorways reeking of urine and every store staffed by hulking security guards. Westfield announced its planned departure on Monday and several occupants of the mall have already said they'll follow.

Days later AT&T announced its iconic flagship store around the corner at 1 Powell Street, one of the largest in the country, was to permanently close.

The local branch of Walgreens is boarded up, although still open, and was recently the scene of a fatal confrontation between a homeless trans woman and a security guard.

Ross Dress For Less and Saks Off 5th are operating a one-in, one-out system to deter thieves while Nordstrom Rack is closing down altogether in September – along with its sister Nordstrom and scores of other stores such as T-Mobile and Payless Shoes. 


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