SAN JOSE (KCBS) –The City Of San Jose launched a major push on Friday to improve downtown by filling up the area’s empty storefronts.

In Downtown, the current vacancy rate is about 20 percent and Councilman Sam Liccardo said they want to fill up the storefronts anyway they can.

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“We all recognize the impact that filling an empty storefront can have on a community. Not only do we get jobs, we get revenue; but also we get a safer feeling out on the street. Pedestrians now have something to be engaged with,” Liccardo said. “There’s not as much as a sense of concern and often safety really improves considerably as you are able to turn on the lights and so this about improving our community in many ways.”

The first stage of the program includes an effort to get landlords to step forward and be willing to reduce their rates. If they cooperate, the City will waive permit fees and help the small businesses get up and running.

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Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association, said that some of the vacant storefronts are already being filled by new businesses.

“Chromatic Coffee—these young kids from Santa Clara just bought this building are opened up their roasting operation yesterday and they are going to be building out there café and we hope many more behind them,” he said.

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