Having moved to San Francisco from Boston months prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I experienced firsthand the sudden destruction of much of the city’s infrastructure, including the irreparable damage to the elevated 50-foot-high two-level Embarcadero Freeway and the disruptions to transit access. This controversial piece of infrastructural highway, which was envisioned to create an expedited vehicular connection from the city’s Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge, bypassing the city grid, was at that point realized but only in part.
Suburbs and cities everywhere face the challenge of what to do with malls and shopping centers that have been hit hard by COVID-19, the departure of department store anchors, and the rise of online shopping. One example close to home is Northgate Mall in San Rafael, which opened in the 1960s and currently has a Macy’s and a Kohl’s as its anchors. A third anchor, Sears, closed its doors here in 2018. About a year later, Costco proposed taking over the site with a massive three-story big box store and 30 Costco fuel pumps.