Slated to open at Market and Eighth circa 2021, in the base of the fourth and final phase of the massive Trinity Place development, the majority of the proposed 46,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market will be below ground, accessed via a grand entry fronting Market Street.

But above the market, on the corner of Eighth, a roughly 9,000-square-foot ground floor space is to be configured as a Whole Foods restaurant space with seating for 275 people. And while not specifically labeled in the plans, it would appear as though they’re planning to incorporate an Amazon Go, or at least Amazon’s “grab and go” technology, as well (note the gates we’ve highlighted below).

And if approved, Whole Foods is proposing the market will be open from 6 am to 12 am (midnight), seven days a week.

41 thoughts on “Detailed Plans for that Massive Mid-Market Whole Foods Complex”
  1. If the store is going to be below grade, it would be beneficial for them to have an entrance directly into the BART/Muni station. Why force people to go above ground then back down if they are coming from transit?

      1. Can provisions be made to add such connection at a later time, or are there some sewer/etc lines that would preclude that? I don’t know if the connection to mall at Powell was made at construction time of BART or at a later time.

          1. There were direct entrances into Woolworth’s and California Savings (maybe Emporium, too) when the Powell BART opened.

        1. Add a direct entrance to the Civic Center station and you are going to have homeless people wandering in and out. Do you think that Whole Foods is going to go for that???

        2. “are there some sewer/etc lines that [would make connecting to Civic Center BART problematic]?”

          Well, not *exactly* sewer, but you would be forgiven for thinking it was a sewer issue if you walk into that station. I certainly would not want to shop in a store directly connected to such a disgusting cesspool. You’d just have vagrants wandering in and plopping down to sleep in the aisles of the store the same way they do in the corridors of the station.

      2. I wonder if the Planning Commission (or whoever is the correct agency for this sort of thing) will take a look at this plan that calls for a direct entrance for drivers and not for public transit riders. The plan seems contrary to the aim of a city that strives to be transit first.

        If there are apartments/condos in the plan, how many parking spaces would be allocated for residents and how many for shoppers?

        1. I would doubt it is going to be something they pursue since it would require approval and coordination with BART and MUNI and there is underground infrastructure that would have to be moved, making it an expensive connection to build. It is not a big deal for transit riders to go up to the sidewalk and enter a store. There are numerous stores along Market Street that do not have a direct connection to the underground tunnel and transit riders, including myself, manage to enter them with no problem.

          1. I think this is the right answer. Everyone would love this in principle but in reality it would be a huge undertaking requiring redesigning a station they are already currently remodeling, and would the developers of Trinity Place pay for it all?

    1. RE: entrance to Woolworths, Emporium, Cal Savings from Powell St Station. All were at different basement elevations than the station’s concourse level. Woolworth’s and Cal Savings needed a short stairway/escalator to reach their basement floors. Not ADA accessible. I believe the 2 entrances into Westfield and Nordstrom have a slight slope allowing someone in a wheelchair/disabled to enter the mall.

    1. I think there’s a space for both, really. I live right by the Market and nobody uses it as a full service grocery store…more like pick up a staple or two if you live at 100 Van Ness/NEMA/Argenta or work at Twitter/Uber/Dolby. What it’s really used for is all the small scale food vendors. The lines for Azalina’s and Poke are out of control long during lunch hours, the wine bar is always full, and Tony’s Pizza is always busy. While WF will have a “grab and go” type of thing too, their focus will be the inverse – people will really do full grocery shopping there.

      Ultimately with The Market, people go to it because it’s super close and easy. The type of shopping experience people have at The Market is not the type where you’d willingly walk two extra blocks to WF just to get a slice of pizza for dinner and pick up a cheese for a dinner party, because why bother?

      1. I willingly walk 6 blocks there to get a loaf of Tartine bread. And while I’m there I usually find some other stuff nobody else carries (including Whole Foods) which is increasingly about higher priced versions of stuff you can get anywhere.

        Why bother? It’s the closest place to get it and if Whole Foods puts them out of business there will be no place nearby to get it.

        1. Whole Foods seems to have become more affordable post Amazon acquisition. It’ll compete with Safeway prices for organic items and definitely cheaper than BiRite or my my local market.

          1. There’s a WF right around the block from me. Some items (mostly their own brands) are priced to compete w/Safeway but what I’ve noticed is that prices in the store have largely not gone down. Also, a lot of their produce is not organic. If you are a “prime member” you can save a little more on their yellow tag sale items but all in all it is still way more expensive than Safeway or Lucky.

      2. MoM should expand its food court and eliminate the aisles of high-priced groceries (2-3 times higher than Trader Joe’s and Safeway). It won’t be able to compete with WH on this front, and the margins on groceries are low. So it should focus on the mid-range dining experience.

  2. That large opening in the front of the building would have been even better if the same height had been maintained all the way through to the park in the center of the other buildings. It would have been possible to see the Venus statue all the way from Market Street. Unfortunate that the city allowed the developers to remove that feature. I hope that at least this portion of it is built as rendered, including that cutout on the corner.

  3. This whole complex is a major architectural disappointment. The original drawings showed real recesses and projections, giving the appearance of interlocking cubes. The reality is a virtually flat facade. Too bad.

    1. It really works, though. There are a lot of really busy top grade pros living there. Actually building and marketing housing units is a dark art in this age and this project has a huge clump of units in range of people demanding them. Everything about these buildings is so much more positive than what is happening in the blocks surrounding.

  4. All for more a market and ready food sales – but this neighborhood doesn’t need more alcohol sales. Maybe if they gave equal floor space to a AA meeting room with a narcan dispenser….

    1. Oh please, haven’t we had enough of this puritanical nonsense in the last 100 years? Supermarkets sell beer and wine because that’s what many people like to drink with their dinner. You want to ban it because a small minority of people can’t handle their consumption in a healthy way? Then let’s ban bacon and cheese and chocolate and makeup as well. If you’re worried about the addicts that roam the streets in this neighborhood, then I don’t think there’s much chance they’ll abandon their corner liquor store to go pick up a $12 four-pack of Modern Times at Whole Foods.

      1. The problem is not sales but theft, both for consumption and resale. In the wake of ending the state liquor retail monopoly in Washington, certain hotspots appeared in Seattle for buying boosted liquor; the inventory for the local market came from local grocery stores. Unlike the typical SoMa bodega, Whole Foods cares about merchandising too much to cage up all their booze.

        The TJs at 4th and Market and on 9th and Harrison have interesting restrictions in their licenses—4th and Market can only sell 4-packs of beer, while 9th and Harrison can’t sell refrigerated alcohol. I presume these are attempts to curb theft and abuse, but I’m not sure how effective these controls are.

        1. Whole Foods/Amazon can afford to have a small group of onsite security guards during store hours, including at the entrance/exits, which should prevent most thefts from occurring. The stores that tend to experience theft on Market Street either do not have onsite security, or only have a single guard who is not present for the full hours of operation.

          1. Apparently private security is very limited in what they can actually prevent. The Safeway on Market St. has private security, but they will let people waltz right out the door with stolen stuff, from what I’ve seen and heard. Apparently if the value of the stolen goods is less than $950, it’s a misdemeanor and it’s unlikely that the DA will bring charges, and almost as unlikely that the culprit will be arrested, even if detained by security. Since attempts to detain someone often result in injuries or other drama, it appears they don’t even try to stop them.

            My point is that having private security guards may dissuade some thieves, but the ones in the know probably won’t be dissuaded at all.

      2. A 2009 review published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that reducing the number of alcohol outlets in a community can limit problematic drinking and its dangers. The “many people” who like to drink beer and wine with dinner aren’t the people policy makers should be considering here. It’s not puritanical and it’s not nonsense in this part of town.

  5. This is a great project and everything, but it highlights SF’s same old inequities – developers and city planners and politicians can’t get another supermarket built in the western addition for love or money but here on Market Street we will soon have two dazzling fancy expensive supermarkets within a couple blocks of each other, for the use of highly paid people who work here during the day, and in theory the rich people who will eventually move into all the luxury housing that doesn’t even all exist yet.

      1. Not quite true. Developers build buildings and lease the space to supermarket companies. Often the space is built with that specific intent (often it is pre-leased prior to construction.) And city planners approve projects with (often) pretty clear plans about where supermarkets will go or not go, and entitlements to match.

        I’m struggling to think of a newly-built supermarket in SF in the past twenty years which was not built by a developer as part of a larger project. (Of course, the supermarket company “builds out” the inside of the store; tenant improvements just like any other leased commercial space.)

        1. But per Mike F below, if the supermarket company doesn’t want to open, all the developers and city planners and politicians can’t make it open.

  6. This kind of commentary always squeaks its way into these articles.

    Do you not think Whole Foods has their own PR, marketing & market research analysts? Do you think Whole Foods, (Amazon) does no due diligence at all where the store would make money? You honestly think they just plop a store down wherever looks keen and see how it goes?

    People of San Francisco never cease to amaze me, either they are complaining about something in their neighborhood (new housing) , or they complain that there are no “XXX” (laundromats) in their neighborhood. How much profit can one make on a laundromat? There is a reason why they are dying out. After rent and equipment, how much do you think they earn per month? If you think laundromats are such a boon, why aren’t you opening one yourself to cash in?

    If opening a store near your hood would make money, do you think that not one other person has ever thought of that? Do you think no one has ever run the numbers and checked the foot traffic, etc. for a supermarket near you?

    If you are so educated on where certain businesses should set up shop in order to make any profit, and you are so sure profits would be through the roof, –you would be in that business yourself. But you are not. There is a reason for that. So many “armchair CEO’s” around here.

    1. Absolutely. And any lack of supermarkets in so-called disadvantaged neighborhoods is not because nobody has looked at putting supermarkets in these areas. It’s because nobody thinks they can turn a profit doing so, for lots of reasons. Particularly in SF, where we are apparently unwilling to enforce laws or inflict meaningful punishment on offenders, there’s so much shrinkage (theft) even in affluent neighborhoods, that I’m sure that it’s tough to contemplate the kind of investment it takes to open a large grocery store in a place where shrinkage might be even higher. Grocers operate on thin margins even at successful stores in “good” neighborhoods. It’s all about profitability and ROI to large grocers. (Look what happened to Fresh ‘n Easy…) Nobody in their right mind is going to open a store when they think it’s going to lose money.

  7. Mike F. ‘s second paragraph is good sounding rhetoric to those who have a picture of Milton Friedman on their bedroom wall above the headboard, but it ignores the reality for this specific circumstance. Amazon is probably the single best existing example of a company which succeeds in spite of undertaking activities which lose money, and they’ve been at it for the majority of the time they’ve been in existence. Yes, they do plop down stores and see how it goes.

    They’re profitable now, but they went for the better part of a decade without spending less than earnings brought in. As recently as 2013 the CEO quoted a pundit as describing Amazon as “a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers.” Amazon routinely enters lines of business and loses money year after year, secure in the knowledge that their ability to maintain such a healthy market capitalization will sustain them while they outlast any competitors.

    Which brings us to the assertions in his last ‘graph: Sorry, but there are many other reasons why businesses aren’t set up in a particular place even in the event that the proprietor is educated and knows how to make a profit. The chief one is called lack of sufficient capital. Jeff Bezos doesn’t have any shortage of that, but the people that Mike F derides as “armchar CEO’s” probably do.

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