September 4, 2008

Home Depot "You Can Do It We Can Help" Irony: Lowe’s Now In Line

The former Goodman Lumber Bayshore Boulevard site

Nine months ago, and following an almost decade long battle to develop the site, The Home Depot hung a "Coming Soon!" sign on the boarded up Goodman Lumber on Bayshore Boulevard. Three months later, the development was dead.

According to the Chronicle, Lowe's is now circling the site as are a few opponents of any "big-box" development. A little extra insight from a plugged-in reader:

The [Chronicle] article calls Joseph Smooke, who touts an alternative proposal, as a "community leader." In fact, Smooke is the executive director of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, which has been fighting Home Depot for years, and has tried to get funding from the city to build affordable housing on the site.
Smooke also lead the effort to derail the 3400 Cesar Chavez condos, in an attempt to force the owners to sell BHNC the property at a discount for city-funded affordable housing. Expect Smooke (with Daly's and Ammiano's help) to try the same play again here, though I think Sup. Maxwell and Bayview community leaders will prevail in keeping the property commercial, if Lowe's is not scared off.

The Home Depot tag line: "You Can Do It. We Can Help." Little did they possibly know.

Lowe's coming to S.F.? [SFGate]
The First Physical Sign (Quite Literally) Of Home Depot Development [SocketSite]
Coming Soon! Bayshore Boulevard Home Depot Development Is Dead [SocketSite]

First Published: September 4, 2008 7:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

It's been said again and again, but the BHNC and the other nimbys are SO SO wrong about this. That is a terrible site for housing. The entire area is industrial/warehousing/commercial.

Isn't it ironic that the Daly/Ammiano clique would force us through the "Eastern Neighborhoods" planning process, which locked up tons of areas for "Production Distribution and Repair", only to oppose a legitimate use of industrial land and potentially even support a very damaging change to residential use?

These folks should be ashamed.

Posted by: curmudgeon at September 4, 2008 7:39 AM

Stop the SMOOKEscreen!

Posted by: Yay3400 at September 4, 2008 8:02 AM

This reminds me - there is a very enjoyable article from one of the faculty of the Harvard Design School re: NIMBYism. It's a good read:

http://www.planetizen.com/node/34505

Posted by: greater fool at September 4, 2008 8:27 AM

Asphalt on the broad streets and big roofs and concrete for the walkways and ramps. Nothing cries out for preservation such as the total desertification of the urban area. At least an active site would probably plant some trees and bushes or something. Cities don't have to be like this. What a shame!

Posted by: Mole Man at September 4, 2008 8:51 AM

the BHNC and Smooke are not NIMBYs. You people don't know the meaning of the term. People that build affordable housing are hardly NIMBYs. Ha! If only! Outside of this little bubble here the NIMBYs are primarily the ones fighting affordable housing being built near them because they scream about their property values and all those poor people dirtying up their neighborhoods and frightening their children. BHNC might oppose a big box store and angle to get their project built instead, rightly or wrongly, but that does not nearly a NIMBY make.

Posted by: intheknow at September 4, 2008 9:40 AM

intheknow is right. NIMBYs fight these projects. The proper term for groups like BHNC and Smooke are "poverty pimps" or "race racketeers".

Their game is to push through foolish projects that play on liberal sympathies, and they are careful to locate them in places where the powerful goo-goos don't live and would never even visit (except for the ribbon-cutting ceremony). Once the project is approved and the dollars start flowing, they proceed to steal with both hands....

Posted by: Satchel at September 4, 2008 9:50 AM

I'll be surprised if Lowe's builds a store here. They just opened down in South City not that long ago, and another location here would probably cannibalize quite a bit of that store's sales. Having said that, I hope they do it.

Posted by: BernalDweller at September 4, 2008 9:51 AM

intheknow is exactly right BHNC is not full of NIMBYS with regard to affordable housing but as to any other type of development they (BHNC) are NIMBYS. So far the city has lost money with regard to the Home Depot site by having that site not pay RE taxes (to the highest & best use), lost sales tax revenue because people shopping there have gone to HD in either Colma or Daly City, and the city has lost jobs. Sure Bernal Heights had legitimate concerns for traffic and those could easily have been mitigated. It pitted one supervisorial district over another. It forced people in SF to drive to either Daly city or Colma for supplies that cannot be had in SF at the same prices. The Bayshore site is a terrible site for humans.

Posted by: SF2OAK at September 4, 2008 10:00 AM

This site should be HD/Lowes AND live-work. We don't really get mixed-use here in SF- except for quaint well controlled sites. This is the heart of where mixed use belongs. Smack next to cottagey BHeights, adjacent to existing industry and, looking ahead 20 years -- 80,000 units are on the pipeline southward - bayside and inland. Where is tere a more perfect site? Hello, Planning?

Let us not squander our limited sites for big box only fabrications (eg Best Buy/Division Street), when we need engaging, integrated, and interesting developments which further diversify the housing stock and enhance residential and commercial quality of lives.

Posted by: invented at September 4, 2008 10:35 AM

Every stucco house in SF will now have the same tacky plaster ornaments hanging off their walls.

Posted by: sf at September 4, 2008 10:42 AM

who is "smooke" ?

Posted by: Louis at September 4, 2008 10:54 AM

If Lowe's doesn't want in, this would be a great location for OSH.

Posted by: Dan at September 4, 2008 11:01 AM

are you kidding me? what is the hell is up with these people!

this decrepit lot should have been redeveloped in to a mixed-use development years ago which is more economically viable versus one or the other.

Posted by: phil at September 4, 2008 11:37 AM

People in the Bayview need jobs, not vacant lots. San Franciscans just drive to Daly City for these stores anyway, why not let SF have some of the jobs and tax revenue? How will the people in BHNC react when they end up getting robbed by all the kids in Bayview that can't find a job.

Posted by: Jake at September 4, 2008 12:03 PM

You just can't put social housing in an industrial wasteland without an extensive rethinking of the area. You'd be adding the insult (of isolation) to the injury (of poverty). A very bad mix, imho.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at September 4, 2008 12:25 PM

You just can't put social housing in an industrial wasteland without an extensive rethinking of the area.

This spot, while quite grim, is only a few blocks from Bernal Heights shopping and there is at least one good bus line that runs right by here.

SOMA used to be an "industrial wasteland" as well and it is turning out quite nicely.

It would be a shame to not put mixed-use development in here, but it would require at least a nearby park as well, so as to not be too grim.

Lowe's would be better than nothing though, which is what we have now.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at September 4, 2008 12:44 PM

Yeah, SOMA is a great example of how it could turn out. The thing SOMA had for itself was close proximity to livelier neighborhoods. It is now a lively neighborhood in the making and that's a great outcome.

All that people can do on Bayshore Boulevard is fend off the transients sleeping under the underpass at Cortland and head for the hills. Or they can shop for plants or antiques close by.

Great stores but me and wifey walked there once from Noe thru BH a few months back and everyone was staring at us like we were from planet Mars.

This area has a huge potential but it will require a good deal of infrastructure/amenities work.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at September 4, 2008 1:20 PM

I disagree that this is a good mixed use (with residential) opportunity. While I'm for mixed use almost everywhere, and wish we had more of it in the big box ghetto along Division, for instance, IMHO this is one of the worst places to put housing in the city.

1. There is NO housing in the large megablocks that this site is a part of. It's all industrial/warehouse/big box, plus a bit of fastfood. What a great place to live!
2. Bayshore is a virtual freeway...again not making for a pedestrian friendly place to live.
3. Yes, there are existing residential neighborhoods in Bernal, but that is across busy bayshore, under the freeway and up the hill. This site is actually quite far from existing neighorhood serving retail/services of Cortland, and would never feel like a part of that neighborhood.
3. This area is one of the best surviving areas for dirty, messy, noisy activities in the city. Once people live there, there will be intense pressure to scale back these useful activities.

Posted by: curmudgeon at September 4, 2008 1:28 PM

Industrial wasteland?
Only this lot is a dead zone. This area is where all professional builders shop. You can't put a park there, or remove all the cars. This is a working productive industrial area. Put some more smaller workshops if they don't want a big box store. I buy my carpet accoss the street, my steel fabricator is a block away. I buy my stone 2 blocks away, tile 2 blocks. Floorcraft is accross the street. Several hardwood distributors, MacBeath Hardwood, Beronio Lumber, SF Victoriana.

Posted by: sparky at September 4, 2008 1:36 PM

Give San franciscans 2 inches of rope and they will hang themselves... Just because some dipsy-doo neighborhood knowitalls want to put housing there, doesnt mean its a good idea. Someone, anyone, save SF from itself.

Posted by: Joe at September 4, 2008 1:46 PM

You guys have this wasteland here because of the magical workings of families fighting over property. As I recall it was something like the brothers owned the store--Goodman's and the sister owned the land, including the old Whole Earth. WE had folded, but Goodman's was perfectly viable and functionally equivalent to Lowes or HD. The sister didn't renew the lease and forced the store to close. Therefore whoever the current owner is has had a vacant lot on their hands.

Posted by: tyrone at September 4, 2008 1:47 PM

Sparky, you are right. There are a ton of suppliers down there. I originally welcomed this plan but also can't help but wonder if HD/Lowe's wouldn't eventually put MacBeath, Beronio, Victoriana and everyone else out of business... Competition is generally a good thing but we all know now what happens when walmart rolls into a new town.

Posted by: "Dave" at September 4, 2008 1:48 PM

I'm not sure whether Home Despot or Woes are much competition for the independently owned specialists where Sparky and other contractors shop. The places that cater to contractors generally offer very competitive prices and a much better selection.

And for stuff like electrical and plumbing where you need to find 100% of your parts list to begin a project, the homeowner retailers are really frustrating when you discover that 3 out of the 20 parts you need are out of stock (good luck getting anyone to check the back stockroom !). Not many contractors want to drive to 3 Home Despots to fill out their parts list. The professional supply houses are rarely out of stock.

I would shop at those pro suppliers more often if they were open a little more outside of the time I'm at work. Some are open 8am-1pm on Saturdays, but evenings and Sunday you're left with the big box places full of clueless employees.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 4, 2008 2:44 PM

Sparky,

Yes, wasteland is a bit of an excessive term if you have business to do there. For mere mortals this is a car/truck only zone. Definitely not a good environment for housing. For a 3/4 island city like SF with rare 2500sf empty lots selling in the 100s of 1000s, this appears as an oddity. Good thing it is there for professionals, though.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at September 4, 2008 2:47 PM

i love lowe's....much better than home depot.

Vote yes.

I see no reason for housing in this area.

Posted by: spencer at September 4, 2008 5:26 PM

Does anyone know - was the old Goodman's there the same Goodman's building supply/hardware in Mill Valley (on 101 just before Tiburon Blvd)?

I love the Goodman's in Mill Valley - much better than Home Despot/Home Dumpo.

Posted by: Satchel at September 4, 2008 5:32 PM

Dave sez, "...but also can't help but wonder if HD/Lowe's wouldn't eventually put MacBeath, Beronio, Victoriana and everyone else out of business... Competition is generally a good thing but we all know now what happens when walmart rolls into a new town."

There's already a HD about 10 min. away from Beronio, so B.'s already faces that competition and it hasn't moved. I assume Victoriana sells victoriana which is something HD does not stock so I wouldn't worry there either. don't know what MacBeath does. The fact is that Rick Karp might feel a little pain from a HD so close and so too floorcraft but they even they know to buy for San Franciscans. You're not going to HD for small items it's just too complicated to get what you want and leave.

As for housing on that site - what a nightmare for the poor epople who would end up living there on a very busy street in a light industrial area with nothing but fast food and old clams to eat and no shopping. fugeddaboutit.

Posted by: SF2OAK at September 4, 2008 7:00 PM

MacBeath is decorative hardwood veneers and furniture/cabinetry lumber; No competition at the HD.

You should only buy toilets at HD
You should only buy particular appliances/fixtures at Lowe's

Does Lowe's need a 3rd store north of 380?

Mill Valley Goodman's is the same company (same signage) but a different product. The SF was more of a Lowes' store, the Mill Valley has real framing lumber and trim, much more of a lumberyard.

The best use of this space would be smaller workshop commercial, with some retail frontage.

Posted by: sparky at September 4, 2008 7:22 PM

Discount Builders down near the Van Ness freeway offramp (division st?) is another remnant of the Goodman's empire. It is a local co. rather than a corporate empire like HD, for what it's worth.

Posted by: tyrone at September 5, 2008 8:15 AM

BHNC exists to make affordable housing. It is that simple. Their job's depend on it. Simple. Yes, they do some nice things on the side. They are not evil.. they just want to do their jobs. and that is to get as much land as they can, build affordable housing (repeat often...)

Posted by: hillychilly at September 5, 2008 8:16 PM

Joseph Smooke and the BHNC pretends to represent the Bernal Heights neighborhood. In reality, he's all about promoting his development company in the guise of a community development organization. I live in Bernal and he doesn't represent me. The development at 3400 Cesar Chavez is ugly and isolated from the neighborhood. The "street level shops" have windows covered with paper and are not inviting to passer-byes, unlike what they claimed when they were pushing for the development approval.

BHNC is a development company, and publishes their propaganda in the guise of the "Bernal Heights Journal". It would be nice to see an independent newspaper in Bernal rather than just a mouthpiece for a for profit, AFL-CIO affiliated development company.

I'd love to see a big, full-service home improvement store in the old Goodman's location. I love Cole hardware but they don't carry everything I need, and I don't want to have to drive to Colma all the time. I miss Goodman's, and would just love to see something comparable return to the Bayshore.

Posted by: Rusty at September 6, 2008 12:52 AM

Spot on, Rusty.

Posted by: BernalDweller at September 6, 2008 8:58 AM

Not quite sure what you mean by this sentence, Rusty: "The "street level shops" have windows covered with paper and are not inviting to passer-byes, unlike what they claimed when they were pushing for the development approval."

3400 Cesar Chavez hasn't been built yet-- it is just a hole in the ground. Are you referring instead to BHNC's Bernal Gateway, the affordable housing built diagonally across Mission and Cesar Chavez Streets?

I agree with your point, though. My objection to BHNC is that they claim to represent the community, when really they are representing their own interests.

Posted by: Dan at September 6, 2008 10:02 AM

The REAL problem is that a majority of our esteemed supervisors do not understand the fundamentals of accounting and economics.

I wonder how many of them bothered to even take these when they were in college?

M.R.

Posted by: Mystery Realtor at September 7, 2008 8:21 AM

Haven't noticed that the shops at Bernal Gateway are empty, but if they are it may be because the corner has had a flooding problem when heavy rain moves through. Getting your stock ruined a few times is a bit discouraging. Used to be a parking lot I believe.

Posted by: tyrone at September 7, 2008 2:31 PM

There have never been shops in Bernal Gateway. There is a day care center and other social services, but it does not have commercial space.

Posted by: Dan at September 7, 2008 2:39 PM

maybe the day labor program can move over there as well as all the day laborers.

would be a great place for them to find work and get them off of public sidewalks and in front of people's homes. this is how it's done in el cerrito as well as san mateo

Posted by: pro army at April 3, 2009 9:28 AM

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