As we first reported last week, the previously approved plans to construct a five-story, mixed-use building with 139 dwelling units, 148 off-street parking spaces, and a 30,000 square foot grocery store at 555 Fulton Street have been dusted off and the design refined.

Tomorrow, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will be asked to extend the approvals for the development of 555 Fulton Street which expired earlier this year. In addition, the project sponsor is requesting the approval of a new amendment which would allow for a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or other formula retailer to operate at the corner of Fulton and Laguna.

While no specific tenant has been proposed, and the proposed amendment would not allow a formula retailer to lease the building’s retail space as of right, the amendment would allow a formula retailer to seek Conditional Use Authorization to operate the grocery at 555 Fulton Street, an option which is currently blocked by Hayes Valley’s formula retail controls.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Mark

    Conditional Use Authorization = pay off those in charge to get your way.
    Only in San Francisco…

  2. Posted by james jr

    Trader Joe’s would be a welcome addition to the community.
    What a shame the Planning Commission nixed the one at Market and Castro three years ago. That space still sits empty. All over a minor parking request. 70 lost jobs and thousands (millions?) of dollars in lost sales tax revenue. The Planning Commission can be so short-sighted.

  3. Posted by Tim Bracken

    I consider myself a liberal. The politicians in San Francisco who block large stores from opening are liberal in name only.
    In an already expensive city, where the average resident doesn’t make a lot of money but still has exorbitant rent obligations, these politicians are forcing us to pay far more for basic necessities like food and clothing, all in the interest of protecting a small cadre of merchants.
    That sounds awfully conservative to me.

  4. Posted by Mark

    @Tim: what the pols do is force people to get in their cars to drive to their preferred retail outlets, many of which are outside of the city (giving SF dollars to the burbs). Placing restrictions on formula retail in Hayes Valley, or any SF neighborhood, isn’t going to change residents’ purchasing behavior. It may be inconvenient to not have Trader Joe’s in Hayes Valley, but it won’t stop people from travelling to one.

  5. Posted by anon

    ^Trust me, I don’t support these ridiculous chain store restrictions, but your note that “people go to the stores anyway” is pretty blatantly false. If that were the case, why would Trader Joe’s ask for more stores in the first place? If everyone is going to go to their stores the same amount regardless of where they are located, why have any in SF where rent and hassles are higher?
    There are many times where I personally would go to a TJs if it were close by, but end up going somewhere else because my time is worth more than dealing driving to one.

  6. Posted by Mark

    @anon: no, my point is not blatantly false. Regarding your first point…companies expand to increase their customer base, thereby gaining market share and increasing profits. At least that is their goal and is a separate topic of conversation.
    As for customers, loyalty and/or preference gets them in their cars, on bikes, feet or transit to take them there if the businesses they prefer aren’t within spitting distance. I like to shop at Whole Foods, but I live in Parkside. Sure, I could step out my door and hit the Safeway that’s a half mile away or the little mom and pop market that’s even closer. And I have, on occasion, either because my time is precious or I didn’t feel like driving for a one off item or two. However, just because a Whole Foods doesn’t exist within my sphere of convenience isn’t going to change my preference.

  7. Posted by anon

    You didn’t speak of “preference”, you spoke of action:
    isn’t going to change residents’ purchasing behavior.
    As you just stated, having Whole Foods not close to you does change your purchasing behavior on occasion. Similarly, the city preventing TJs from opening on Market no doubt changes the purchase behavior of hundreds or thousands of people per day, forcing them to choose something other than what they prefer.

  8. Posted by Dan

    There’s already a Whole Food opening nearby at Dolores and Market. How many of the off-street parking spaces will be for the grocery store? WF and TJs won’t open without adequate parking. A smaller store that can operate without parking, like BiRite, might be a better fit.

  9. Posted by BTinSF

    The absence of large stores doesn’t just force people to get in their cars and drive to the suburbs. It puts pressure on people to have cars in the first place.
    And the argument that it costs San Franciscans money is all too true. Even small essentials are much more expensive in this city because of the absence of the likes of Wall-Mart and, until recently, Target.
    I have found myself buying nearing everything on the internet lately. By doing that and having things delivered, I can still take advantage of reasonable prices plus remain car-free. Thank G*d for Amazon Prime.

  10. Posted by AnonFedUp

    If Manattan can embrace and even celebrate having Trader Joes, why does San Francisco feel it is so superior by blocking TJs?
    I looked up the very funny NYTimes article about how manhattan went nuts over TJs,.
    Even Paris and Rome have chain stores and have survived. If San Francisco is as unique, world class, and European as it keeps telling itself it is, then it should be able to survive Trader Joes in this location with its dignity intact.

  11. Posted by Patrick

    The Planning Commission wouldn’t have been able to block the TJ at Market & Noe if it hadn’t been for the efforts of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association who put the kibosh on the project. It was Dennis Richards and Peter Cohen who you can thank for that:

  12. Posted by Kyle

    SF suffers from an inferiority complex further enabled by our political system of district elections. District elections ensure that even the most parochial concerns/ideas are given massive airtime.
    We’re a city where it takes on a single crank to derail any project, and things wont get any better until that changes.

  13. Posted by sf

    The SF liberal mentality is all about providing affordable healthy food to low income people. And here they are, blocking affordable, healthy food for low income people. Disgraceful.

  14. Posted by james jr

    To Anon Fed Up:
    The Planning Commission in NO WAY should have been influenced by the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association or any other tiny, NIMBY organization in making its decision about the TJ’s on Market near Castro. It is supposed to look at the big picture. In this case it failed to do so to the detriment of the entire community. Shame.

  15. Posted by I drive

    I was so pro TJ’s in Castro until I remembered how every time I walked by the TJ’s on Masonic I laughed at the cars LINED UP AROUND THE BLOCK TO GET A PARKING SPOT. Then I remembered that Noe at Market closes on Wednesday afternoons for a farmers market and that Market at Noe is already a confusing intersection with the F turn around and the inter-six-ion of Market Noe and 15th making for… interesting multi modal traffic shaping and I had to actually change my wag of the finger to a tip of the hat. That location, while ped focused and friendly would have become a nightmare of oversight when people started lining up back at Church to park in one of like 20 parking spaces for a TJ’s that was desperately needed, but doomed by its own success.
    This development needs a TJ’s, but the western addition is just too… what’s the polite word for poor? Oh yeah, ethnic. Too ethnic to support a TJ’s. The tech set won’t live in those cinder block cells and the 60’s bull dozed any chance for renovation to that neighborhood had, so unless there’s a grand plan for renewing that urban renewal (oh yeah, it’s called Hayes Valley now), sorry West Add… you’re SoL.

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