Winter Walk SF Internationally and Locally Awarded for Public Space Excellence

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Union Square Business Improvement District & Off the Grid honored with SF Beautiful’s “Beautification” Award

The Union Square Business Improvement District (USBID) and Off the Grid, a Bay Area-based mobile food and events platform, were recently honored in October 2019, by The International Downtown Association (IDA) and San Francisco Beautiful for their innovation with the Winter Walk SF Project. Winter Walk is a pop-up holiday pedestrian plaza combining holiday décor, a rotating selection of mobile food and craft beverages curated from Off the Grid, a communal beer garden, family-friendly activities, art, community performances, entertainment, live music performances, and interactive experiences over five festive weeks in the heart of Union Square.

During its 65th Annual Conference and Tradeshow last week in Baltimore, MD, the International Downtown Association recognized the Union Square BID with the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence for its work and initiatives related to Winter Walk. The Award of Excellence acknowledges an excellent response to an industry challenge and exceeds the jury criteria. Winter Walk was among 17 qualified entries in the category of Events and Programming. This category features programs and events that improved the image and vitality of downtown. Winter Walk SF received the IDA Award of Excellence for uniquely implementing best practice in urban place management,” said David Downey, IDA President and CEO. “The Winter Walk SF is a shining example of excellent urban place management delivering real value to the city and an exemplary response to a community challenge.”

The Union Square BID & Off the Grid were also awarded the 2019 San Francisco Partnership Award by San Francisco Beautiful earlier in October, which recognizes nominees who have been successful stewards of public places. The Beautification Award recognizes individuals, organizations, and projects that contribute to keeping San Francisco beautiful and represents a great honor to both organizations who were thrilled to partner on the evolving project. Initially created to provide an easy-to-access pathway during major reconstruction of the Central Subway project beneath Stockton Street near Union Square in 2014, the event transformed two city blocks into a winter wonderland. The resulting activation offered an opportunity to share the convivial spirit of the holiday season and bring friends and strangers together to stay, unwind, and savor. Last year, USBID and Off the Grid expanded on the popular event with eye-catching furnishings, immersive retail experiences from local businesses, holiday photo booths, and more.

In 2018, Winter Walk welcomed 2.2 Million visitors and was the number one San Francisco holiday destination; up from 1.7 Million in 2017. The 17,000 square feet of open green space was recognized for creating a $47 Million economic impact. A range of activities, cozy nooks, whimsical, snow-capped backdrops and plenty of shareable moments taking place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., enticed shoppers to extend their visit to Union Square for an average of two to three hours longer as a result.

The Union Square BID and Off the Grid are working closely with the City to find a new location for Winter Walk now that Lower Stockton has reopened to vehicular traffic and busses. Winter Walk 2019 is tentatively slated to kick off on November 29, 2019 (Black Friday) on Grant Ave. between Geary and Post Streets and Maiden Lane. Follow along with this year’s development at A press conference will take place a few days after the kick-off. Please contact us if you want to be added as a guest.

“We are truly thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to placemaking in San Francisco,'' said Matt Cohen, Founder of Off the Grid. “The mission of Off the Grid is to unlock the potential of public and private spaces, and create a delicious synergy of food, mobility, technology, and hospitality along the way. This award couldn’t come at a better time as we prepare for the upcoming holidays!”

"San Francisco Beautiful is the only organization that honors the efforts of individuals and groups who are committed to elevating the quality of life for people who live and visit San Francisco," said Darcy Brown, executive director of San Francisco Beautiful. "We are so proud to celebrate the success of Winter Walk and the inspiring contribution of Off the Grid and USBID to the annual holiday season."

“Winter Walk has become a premier holiday destination. We hope to continue the tradition by keeping Union Square festive and active in the 2019 holiday season and beyond,” says Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square BID.

ABOUT Off the Grid: Founded in San Francisco in 2010, Off the Grid (OTG) has championed the mobile food movement, connecting people over a shared love of food and community. As a mobile events platform, OTG recreates public and private spaces with curated food experiences, innovative event production and corporate dining. Credited with reviving and cultivating San Francisco’s street food scene, OTG sets the stage for culinary discovery by creating multiple opportunities for entrepreneurial food vendors to access authentic community experiences within intentionally designed public spaces in more than 15 locations and 60 events weekly that serving more than 100,000 people. Off the Grid Catering provides a private markets experience with turn-key event production and planning. For more information visit and follow OTG on Twitter: @OTGSF, Instagram: @OffTheGridSF, Facebook: @OffTheGridSF.

ABOUT USBID: The Union Square BID serves its members and creates a high quality visitor experience by managing and activating public spaces, attracting new investment, and advocating for the District’s future success. Union Square is the vibrant heart of San Francisco and an international destination where visitors come to enjoy exceptional retail experiences, luxury hotels, world-class cultural institutions, and great public spaces found only in the City by the Bay.

ABOUT IDA: The International Downtown Association is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Our members are city builders and downtown champions who bring urban centers to life, bridging the gap between the public and private sectors. We represent an industry of more than 2,500 place management organizations, employing 100,000 people throughout North America and growing rapidly around the world. Founded in 1954, IDA is a resource center for ideas and innovative best practices in urban place management. For more information, visit

ABOUT San Francisco Beautiful: Founded in 1947 to save the iconic cable cars, San Francisco Beautiful is the only organization that continues to protect the unique neighborhood character, civic beauty and liveability of San Francisco. and support accessible public art for all.

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Yasemin Sussman
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