City-funded Vacant to Vibrant program opens with 17 local pop-ups in downtown San Francisco
Explore 17 pop-ups in downtown San Francisco this fall as the city-funded Vacant to Vibrant program aims to re-energize the area. (courtesy Brett Sayles)

City-funded Vacant to Vibrant program opens with 17 local pop-ups in downtown San Francisco


Artists and makers behind some of the Bay Area’s best vegan donuts, breakfast sandwiches, and sustainable outdoor gear are hoping to revive and energize downtown San Francisco.

With a constant stream of negative press, business closures (RIP Nordstrom at Westfield—that one hurt), and empty office buildings and storefronts—the heart of SF has been going through it. However, promising developments are underway, like the recent opening of the city’s first Ikea and several exciting new restaurants coming soon to Union Square.

To add to this momentum, the new city-funded program Vacant to Vibrant is bringing 17 pop-ups to nine formerly vacant spaces downtown.

The vegan beauties at Whack Donuts.(Courtesy of @whackdonuts)

Applications opened for pop-up proposals in the spring of this year. Some 850 submissions were received and narrowed down by an advisory committee made up of local business owners, artists, community-based organizations, and property owners.

The first of three total installments has already opened; the other two will be announced and open their doors in the new year. The first cohort consists of nine primary activations and eight supporting pop-up activators who will also be present in the storefronts for the next three months. See who made the cut below:

Food and drink

  • Devil's Teeth Bakery is serving up breakfast sandos on fluffy biscuits, and other baked goods. // One Embarcadero Center, Suite R1113
  • Rosalind Bakery is bringing its bangin' freshly baked bread and other pastries from Pacifica. // Four Embarcadero Center, Suite 4054
  • Teranga is slinging colorful, contemporary African cuisine. // Four Embarcadero, Suite R4104
  • Whack Donuts is a go-to for tasty vegan donuts in unconventional flavors. // Four Embarcadero Center, Suite 4507
  • York Street Café offers globally influenced and fun-flavored lattes and treats. // Four Embarcadero Center, Suite 4507


  • Brujas is the place to unleash your feminist skater self; this streetwear brand is based in the Bronx. // 201 Jackson St.
  • The Mellow is a tranquil plant shop and performance space. // 332 Pine St.
  • Nature’s Keeper stocks sustainable outdoor gear for hitting the slopes. // 100 California St., Suite 140
  • Sucka Flea is a fresh brick and mortar for the monthly Mission District flea market and swap meet. // 332 Pine St.
  • Yonder curates aesthetically pleasing, direct made products from a variety of makers around the world. // 151 Jackson St.

Arts + Nonprofits

  • Bee Betwee is drawing fun portraits! // 220 Montgomery St., Suite 100
  • Creativity Explored is bringing its beloved work supporting artists with disabilities to the pop-up program. // 220 Montgomery St., Suite 100
  • Holy Stitch! will help you with hems, repairs, and alterations of all kinds of clothes, plus DIY classes. // 100 California St., Suite 140
  • GCS Agency is a fine art gallery. // 201 Jackson St.
  • KALW-FM 91.7 FM, the Bay Area public radio station, needs no introduction. // 220 Montgomery St., Suite 100
  • Risa Iwasaki Culbertson is displaying her colorful, creative mixed-media art. // 151 Jackson St.
  • Victoria Heilweil, lens-based artist, is sharing space with creative technology artist Phil Spitle. // 332 Pine St.

A handmade ceramic from Yonder.(Courtesy of @yondersf)

For folks returning to offices downtown, this is a great opportunity to do some IRL shopping and grab a bite outside of corporate cafeterias. And for those who aren’t located in the 7x7, it’s the perfect opportunity to take BART or the ferry over and make a day of it. Personally, we're looking forward to shopping locally this holiday season.

// The Vacant to Vibrant Program is accepting applications for future phases. If you're a local business, artist, nonprofit, or a property owner and you're interested in participating, learn more at and follow on Instagram.

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