Remarkable what you can learn in a barber’s chair. Louie’s Barbershop at 422 Castro Street has been at that address since 1932. Marcello’s Pizza, its neighbor to the north, has been there since 1978, and Rossi’s Deli has been there since…well, almost forever. Now, these familiar neighborhood haunts may be threatened. Word through the Gay-vine is that the old building has changed hands, and that the reasonable rents that have kept it stable for years are scheduled to skyrocket. Details are fuzzy, but multiple heirs and international investors are said to figure into the situation.
Small business is the heart of urban neighborhoods. Each one that gets forced out and replaced by a McBiz diminishes the soul of the place. As do empty storefronts. The international corporations and holding companies that invest in urban real estate are not invested in the well-being of residents. They buy pieces of neighborhoods for their portfolios and don’t care much about occupancy. Raise the rent by a factor of ten, then write off the vacant building. Its just good business…and there goes the neighborhood.