About Inside America’s Finest City: In this series, FOX 5 highlights some of San Diego’s nagging issues and what’s being done about them.

SAN DIEGO — Empty buildings have plagued certain areas of San Diego in recent years, but a recovery is slowly on the way.  

Downtown San Diego was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, closing businesses and leaving the city with several unoccupied storefronts. 

“Gaslamp and East Village is coming along. It is not quite there yet, but it will be, probably, in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Steve Avoyer, president and founder of the commercial real estate giant Flocke & Avoyer.

Flocke & Avoyer owns 175 shopping centers around San Diego County.  

Avoyer says only certain businesses were affected, predominately the ones that had severe pandemic restrictions.  

“As we progressed through the year of 2020, it became evident that when the government began mandating closures and businesses — but also allowed for essential services to continue, things like drive thru restaurants, grocery stores, drug stores, those kinds of things — those particular operations actually did quite well,” Avoyer said.  

Avoyer added that corporate stores like Target, Walmart, Vons and Ralphs had banner years in 2020.  

While those businesses thrived during the pandemic, others severely suffered. Avoyer said those business owners that did suffer are coming back with strong.  

“The nail salons, the beauty salons, etc. they are coming back with vengeance,” he told FOX 5 

Little Italy is one thriving neighborhood that has now bounced back, with hardly any vacancies remaining.  

Avoyer says while we still have some empty buildings, they will soon be filled with new businesses ready for a post-COVID economy.