Starbucks’ proposal to take over the existing 2,500 square foot Industrialists retail space at 2201 Market Street has received 59 letters of support (including one from the Merchants of Upper Market & Castro) and a petition with 453 signatures in favor of their plan.


At the same time, the Planning Department has received 4 letters in opposition to the project (including one from the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District) and a petition with 4,200 signatures opposed to Starbucks’ proposal.

Tomorrow, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will decide whether or not to allow Starbucks to take over the 2201 Market Street space, a proposal that San Francisco’s Planning Department recommends the Commission disapprove.

The basis for the Department’s recommendation:

“There are currently five formula retail uses within 300 feet of the Subject Property that include Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Community – A Walgreen’s Pharmacy, Chase Bank and Verizon Wireless. The proposed Starbucks would bring the concentration of formula retail to 21% within 300 feet of the Property.

The Upper Market NCT is well served by existing similar eating and drinking establishments that are considered coffee houses, including Church Street Café, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Sweet Inspiration and Café Flore.

The Project would be detrimental to the neighborhood by occupying a prominent corner lot with a formula retail use that uses standardized color schemes, decor and signage that will detract from the distinctive character of the Upper Market Neighborhood which includes primarily local, independent retail businesses.

The Project would displace an existing business that is independent and locally owned.”

And a counter argument from the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association (BVNA):

“BVNA believes that the current, temporary retail use at 2201 Market Street is an under-use and not beneficial to the neighborhood.

The building’s current structure and appearance have a negative effect on its neighborhood. By contract, Starbucks plans to substantially renovate the site for its new operation. This will bring substantial aesthetic improvement to a corner which needs that badly. Further, it is a proven retail maxim that “magnet” businesses (such as the proposed Starbucks at this location) bring additional positive customer traffic to their area, another deficiency of the current operation. In fact, even so-called “competitive, independent” businesses nearby can benefit from the proposed new Starbucks, provided that they are smart merchandisers and afford themselves of the opportunity to distinguish themselves.

In summary, the proposed new Starbucks at 2201 Market can be a win for all involved, not the negative painted by some shortsighted current local opinions.”

The 2201 Market Street store would be Starbucks’ 72nd in San Francisco.

70 thoughts on “The Designs For 2201 Market Street And Great Starbucks Divide”
  1. Grrrrrrreat news… Can’t wait for this building to sit vacant because some anuses don’t want have to look at Starbucks.
    I wonder if democracy will ever work in the favor of progress?

  2. I see Andrea Aiello and Wendy Mogg (owner Sweet Inspirations) of the CBD are using their influence to benefit themselves as opposed to the neighborhood they claim to represent.

  3. Let SBUX go in there. If you don’t like it, don’t buy coffee from them? It’s pretty simple. Will it hurt small mom-and-pop coffee shops? Maybe. It’s free enterprise.

  4. “Grrrrrrreat news… Can’t wait for this building to sit vacant because some anuses don’t want have to look at Starbucks.
    I wonder if democracy will ever work in the favor of progress?”
    I would rather it sit vacant than be used for another Starbucks. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart goes to the mall and every store is a Starbucks…A 72nd store is not what I would consider progress.

  5. By the amount of business that Starbucks on 18th St does (considering Philz and Spikes are a block away) it’s pretty clear who the vocal minority is.

  6. What is the answer? How do we get independent “mom and pop” businesses in these spaces?
    I see a lot of “NO” but haven’t seen any thoughts on the alternative.

  7. I do not go to Starbuck’s but see no reason why they should be prevented from opening another Castro location.
    The best way to fight Starbucks is to have people actually taste their straight espresso shots. An espresso shot should be the star product of a coffee shop, right?
    Not for Starbucks. They’re absolutely undrinkable. But people add tons of junk and transform their coffee into a milky soft drink.

  8. Cant we have an artisanal thimble store ? Or maybe a community meeting/safe space for triamourous polydactyl Albino people?
    North Korea is more progressive in where it allows its residents to shop!

  9. Isn’t Starbucks one of the main ways that creatives get health insurance? Keep artists in San Francisco by building more Starbucks.

  10. “The best way to fight Starbucks is to have people actually taste their straight espresso shots. An espresso shot should be the star product of a coffee shop, right?”
    AMEN! They snapped up La Boulange and immediately changed the espresso to the same crappy swill they serve at their shops. I’m convinced they are using up the last of their Via instant coffee in lieu of real espresso.

  11. There are areas around the Theater District/Union square area where two Starbucks stores are literally spitting distance away from each other.
    “It’s free enterprise”? Okay. Keep telling yourself that.

  12. To all the people saying no more Starbucks…what are you talking about?!! There’s one Starbucks outside of the one in Safeway in the whole Castro/Upper Market area…One, and it’s packed all the time. So stop whining!

  13. As someone who is no fan of Peet’s and thinks Sweet Inspiration is way over rated, why not another SBUX. Has any one proposed a viable option for the property owner, I don’t think the space should sit empty until someone else comes along. There is enough empty spaces in that are for any future independent shopkeeper.

  14. I don’t have any problem with Starbucks moving into that space. My problem lies in the fact that it’s a prominent corner lot and they’re not planning to build housing above it?

  15. I don’t know if Joel was kidding (“The PD should allow the use, on the condition that housing gets built above it”) but this is a central corner lot zoned for 65 feet and a lease to SBUX will keep any redevelopment from happening.

  16. So much for the CMCBD to require the addition of height for this space.
    Accept your fate…chains are taking over every major city in the country. Yes, even the great NYC is all about formula retail. In smaller towns, one chain, Walmart, controls the entire retail market. If you want to petition SBUX then go ahead and petition every other regional and national chain in the area, from Safeway, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Peets, Pottery Barn, etc.

  17. @Michael – I’m aware of that. I was implying that the property owner should develop new units first, before leasing to Starbucks (on the ground floor.) In fact, I think doing it this way would allow the property owner to say that he’s filling a vacant retail space, not displacing an existing business.

  18. “The Upper Market NCT is well served by existing similar eating and drinking establishments that are considered coffee houses, including Church Street Café, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Sweet Inspiration and Café Flore.”
    I can’t stand claptrap like this. Why do city planners think they know what an area needs more than the free market? People know what they need, not bureaucrats! If the area really is over-served by coffee houses, then the starbucks will fail, end of story.

  19. Pure aesthetic snobbery. Don’t like Starbucks? Don’t buy it. But the City has no business excluding a legitimate business from occupying a vacant storefront, no business limiting consumer choice and no business shielding existing businesses from unwanted competition.

  20. Every time I walk along this block, I see a packed Peet’s and a Sweet Inspiration that is sparsely occupied by customers despite its near cavernous interior.
    If Wendy of SI is afraid Starbuck’s will cut into her already weak business, then she’s got bigger problems than Starbuck’s.
    (My bigger concern is that Chipotle wants to take over the visually dominant site that used to be Home restaurant. Of course, I will keep going to El Castillito just a half block up. Chipotle pales in comparison.)

  21. when did everyone on socketsite become a communist?
    Starbucks is poular and it will be crowded. this is capitalism. why stop profitability that will increase street traffic because of your own personal biases?

  22. Unless a “local” store can come within, say, 15% of the rent or total investment that Starbucks will provide, then I say allow Starbucks.
    Personally: I’d vote ‘yes’ on Starbucks and ‘no’ on Chipotle.

  23. I agree that chain stores should be discouraged in neighborhoods like the Castro. Chain stores push up the rent, forcing out local proprietors. Already there are 2 Starbucks in the Safeway complex and one more on 18th St near Castro. Must they be on every block? Must every neighborhood in America have the same stores?

  24. when did everyone on socketsite become a communist?
    1 – Many posters here support the right of Starbuck’s to open a store.
    2 – Communism would impose a national monopoly and forbid mom-and-pop stores in the first place.
    I think Starbucks serves pretty awful coffee masked with fat, flavor and sugar. But if people want it, good for Starbucks.

  25. @Dan: The Safeway Starbucks are in Doboce Triangle, currently there is only one Starbucks in the Castro. The 18th St location is about a 20min walk from the Safeway location. Hardly “every block”.

  26. Sure, why not. The Castro has not chosen to be a chain-free area like Valencia or Clement. This is the same as when a building is proposed that’s “too tall” for certain neighbors even when it’s within zoned height limits. If a proposal is allowed by zoning and other applicable laws, there shouldn’t be spot prohibitions.

  27. wc1: The Market and Sanchez Starbucks would be only one block from the 2 Starbucks at Safeway, and only 3 blocks from the Starbucks at 18th and Castro. That would be saturation. As of now, no one in the Castro needs to walk than a few minutes to go to Starbuck, or maybe less if Peet’s is a suitable alternative. Also, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf wants to open up within a block of this site. It’s OK for a neighborhood to limit chain store saturation.

  28. When are people going to be rational about these things? Sure, IN THEORY there are many better uses for this location than a Stirf*cks but what options are on the table? According to this, exactly two: (A) Leave it as is, and (B) Starbucks. B wins by a landslide. Now if some of these NIMBY naysayers want to present option C, I’m sure the Commission is more than willing to give them a few months to pull it together.
    What’s that? No better alternatives, you say? OK then.

  29. Yes to Starbucks. They’re a good, socially responsible company that treats its employee, its vendors, its producers and its customers well. The company, and its CEO, are also vocally pro-LGBT, so that should count for a lot in this ‘hood. It does for me, anyhow. I can’t say that I like many big chains, but Starbucks is one of them.

  30. @PepeSF
    Exactly – we are never ever getting rid of chains. The best thing we can do is encourage the ‘good chains’ to keep doing good. SBs is one of them.

  31. Better alternatives will arise after Starbucks is turned away. Valencia Street didn’t wither away when American Apparel was not allowed to move in.

  32. Until I looked at the lot size more closely, I was in agreement with the comments that this site should be developed with multiple levels of housing over retail.
    But this lot is just too small.
    By the time you have inserted two means of egress, perhaps an elevator too, you do not have much squar footage left to do much with.
    Keeping it in the same genre as Cafe Flore may be the best use after all.
    I never use Starbucks myself, and have a fistfull of unused gift cards to prove it, but I am neutral on their wishes to develop this site.

  33. This building is an eyesore! Let Starbucks spend their money and clean-up this corner. If you don’t like them, go somewhere else. Are we going to let some fools like the DTNA keep killing development and JOBS in our neighborhood?!!!

  34. I’m no fan of Starbucks, they sell crap “coffee”, but I wouldn’t want to prevent it based merely on the fact that it’s a starbucks.
    Personally I would also like to see the owner develop the lot and then lease it, but that’s not my decision either.

  35. But what if it was a Peets or Blue Bottle location? My problem is the knee jerk reaction to any company that is Bay Area based being o.k., but if it is from L.A. or Seattle or NYC it is not. Pinkberry is BAD because if it is from L.A., but Pasta Pomodoro is “Great” since it started in the Marina. Peets is now a nationwide chain but people here still think it is unique to the Bay Area.

  36. Nobody’s going to sign a pro-Starbucks petition, because people who like Starbucks will show their support by just shopping there.
    But start an anti-Starbucks petition and you’ll get all the people who are specifically against and were only waiting for the occasion to express it.
    Then there’s the people who neither like or dislike Starbucks and who will not count in the pro/against columns
    When defending his store, the business owner is pretty much on his own.

  37. Hi! I’m PlanAm, the new intern at Planning! What we have decided is that to respect San Francisco’s densification urbanist transit 1st policies the following will occur: Make it Taller — just the coffee, silly! The Tall will become the Too Tall, but it will only hold 3 fluid ounces — that Scott Weiner! He’s callin’ em “micro brews.” Get it? Make it Denser — instead of just a Starbucks, we’ll pack in a Peet’s, a coffee bean and tea leaf, a blue bottle AND a revolution cafe all into one little space. Yay! A bike-up window and Muni Bus Driver ‘break room’ complete with cots for napping and ear plugs for wearing while driving will be provided free of charge. Plus instead of bathrooms we’ll be adding a “poo-parklet” for the homeless. That about rounds it out & thanks again for Planning yesterday’s tomorrows today — with SF Planning! Yummy hugs –PlanAM

  38. Who cares what stores open in the Castro, it’s got about as much personality as the avenues by now anyway. Most of the restaurants and shops are all the same and so overpriced that people who can afford to entertain their leisure in the area are just protesting Starbucks to make themselves feel better about the fact that their sickening, overblown tech salaries are destroying the quality of life of the people that are actually responsible for SF being cool. Yeah I see you lowering your head in shame you know what you did to your city! Want to escape the inflated rat race consumer zombie apocalypse that ‘was’ San Francisco? Coordinate a mass exodus to the East Bay or Sonoma County. Nevermind we don’t want our communities flooded with a bunch of mindlessly opinionated, hypocritical, shepherded knuckle draggers. Stay in SF and rage on about what new club couture fashionista douche kiosk opens up in your your self-righteous, piss soaked turd bucket of a neighborhood. No Starbucks! No Nudity! You are all Scott Weiner!

  39. I think many Mom and Pop shops have a sense of entitlement and often are run by employees with apathetic and often rude attitudes.
    If you suck at business or if you’re not willing to go above and beyond, you don’t deserve a space in San Francisco.
    I’d rather frequent a chain and be treated with professionalism in a clean environment until independents get it together.

  40. If Starbucks succeeds, it’s because people want it there. That should be reason enough to allow it. Why should it matter how much “formula retail” is nearby?
    If the beloved mom-and-pop stores actually provided a good experience, Starbucks wouldn’t succeed. For instance, I’ve been to Sweet Inspirations, and the food is terrible. If they are worried about their business, perhaps they should focus on their product rather than excluding legitimate business using politics.

  41. I have looked at this building for a yoga/dance/Biodanza studio 2 years ago. The owner knows Starbucks will pay him twice the rent as a normal tenant. I would be for Starbucks going in, if they shut down the two stores they have 1 block away at Safeway. Formula retail chains shouldn’t have this kind of concentration in a vibrant City like our home.

  42. @Tim: So if you owned that property you would rent it out to some guy for a yoga studio for half the price you could get from Starbucks?

  43. Actually it seems Tim would rent it to Starbucks for the inflated price they would pay, but then force the city to get rid of the two other Starbucks locations nearby, which screws the owners of those locations. Very nice cutthroat business accumen. Get as much money as you can and screw the other guy.

  44. The site would not sit vacant unless the owner wanted it to. They have let the property decay to its present state and were betting on Starbucks to fix it. There were plans for a Veterinarian clinic that the owner refused. It’s certainly the owner’s right to do what they want with the property but they are also to blame for its current and future state.

  45. Too bad Blue Bottle doesnt want to make a play there. I don’t think the Castro has a single third wave/hipster cafe ;-( (Phil’s doesn’t really count.) Oh hipster, hipster, where art thou hipsters…guess the Castro is gettin’ old!

  46. wc1 said: What is the answer? How do we get independent “mom and pop” businesses in these spaces?
    Eliminate the requirement that business owners pay a “living wage” and health insurance for their employees. Also, reduce the number of permits that are required. These well-intentioned requirements make it impossible for a mom and pop business to operate. Only chain stores can afford to open in San Francisco

  47. ^That must be why my neighborhood is overflowing with new local places, including a new haircut place, nail salon, and two new Vietnamese restaurants (all opened within the last 30 days).

  48. “Eliminate the requirement that business owners pay a “living wage” and health insurance for their employees. Also, reduce the number of permits that are required. These well-intentioned requirements make it impossible for a mom and pop business to operate. Only chain stores can afford to open in San Francisco”
    Not paying a “living wage” is one of the reasons people object to chain stores – double standard.
    The number of permits have been reduced for restaurants via Sup Wiener, I’m unsure about retail.

  49. @ anon – We’ll see if those businesses are still in business in three years.
    @wc1 – in San Francisco, chain stores, in fact all stores pay a “living wage” that is above the minimum wage. It’s required by law. However, for a “mom and pop” store that is operating on a thin margin, this requirement make it unaffordable for them to operate. We love to give lip service to small businesses while at the same time, we make it impossible for them to do business.

  50. Yeah, it’s easy to fight against living wage requirements. Then your kids get on the job market and can’t get a decent pay. I hope you won’t need the basement anytime soon.
    It’s very tempting to want to lower wages for the sake of competitiveness. But this country was not built by lowering wages year after year, quite the opposite. Just look at Spain or Greece to see what happens when you lower wages. Consumption diminishes and everyone loses.

  51. I’m liking Starbucks more now than before reading this thread.
    Me too. Too bad their espresso really sucks.

  52. Good news! Only 4 letters of opposition. more good news.
    The free market system should prevail. And if Spikes wanted to “take it over” then they should step up to the plate, with money in hand and do so.

  53. @Patrick
    We’ll see if those businesses are still in business in three years.
    If they’re not, who cares? That’s how the market works. Businesses fail all the time. What I don’t want is a POLICY FAILURE, where we’ve created huge expanses of empty storefronts (a la Geary between 4th and ~20th, where two different Starbucks and a pet food store have been blocked in order to shovel money at incumbent businesses that offer terrible service/prices).
    The important thing to preserve is an attractive retail shopping base – not specific retailers.

  54. If SF were serious about helping small business, they’d do two things: 1) Eliminate arbitrary “discretionary reviews” for small businesses; 2) streamline the approval/permitting process for small businesses. Right now, SF subjects small businesses to the same huge overhead that large businesses can spread around to multiple locations. Doesn’t sound fair, right? Rather than chasing away large businesses, how about doing the two things I’ve suggested above to level the playing field?

  55. @ Nick
    I would much rather see something like you describe instead of just saying NO to a chain simply because it’s a chain.
    What does not letting a chain move in do to encourage small business? Nothing. The only thing that is encouraged is vacancies.

  56. Based no doubt on their massive internal moral compasses. LOL I bet they make it a CVS with a Chase Bank ATM. What a bunch of frauds.

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