February 23, 2009
Whole Foods Green-Lighted In Noe (And As Proposed On Market)
While Whole Foods Market has been given the green light to take over the shuttered (but unfortunately not razed and to be rebuilt) Bell Market on 24th in Noe, the Prado Group continues to push forward with a proposed mixed-use development at 2001 Market Street which would replace the shuttered S&C Ford dealership with not only a Whole Foods on the ground floor but 80 residential units above and 125 parking spaces below.
No update on the Whole Foods slated for the Haight (a.k.a. the 690 Stanyan Project).
UPDATE (2/24): From a plugged-in reader with respect to the Noe Valley location: "Apparently Whole Foods has budgeted $5 million for [the] remodel and hopes to be open by September."
∙ Here comes another Whole Foods [SFGate]
∙ 2001 Market Street [2001marketsf.com]
∙ The 690 Stanyan Project Update: Conditional Use Approved 6-0 [SocketSite]
First Published: February 23, 2009 9:00 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
WF on 24th sounds good to me, but......
i think this will be appealed by "nimbys" based on traffic impact in the area, they will look to places like t-joes on masonic which creates a pkng and traffic nightmare.
the opps must have been asleep on this one.
Posted by: Louis at February 23, 2009 9:38 PM
The one on Market should be ok. I would have to think it'll be mostly foot traffic. It should do well.
Posted by: Juju at February 23, 2009 10:02 PM
WF is a perfect fit for yuppie valley...err...noe valley. but can u imagine the traffic on 24th st!?! that's going to be friggin' insane. it's bad enough now w/all the double parked trucks, cars going in/out of metered parking spots, and those pesky entitled noe residents crossing the street every which way with their designer dogs/baby strollers/gap dressed clone kids (choose one).
Posted by: 45yo hipster at February 23, 2009 10:22 PM
Oh hipster that made me giggle. I routinely drive through Noe Valley, crossing 24th on Noe, and for some reason the block is always inundated with clueless entitled pedestrians.
Don't get me wrong, I'm for walkers all the way, but I'm also for a little bit of courtesy, and at least allowing cars to get through occasionaly! Noe Valley pedestrians prefer to imagine that cars just don't exist and have no right to the roadway.
Re: whole foods...I don't think it will be such a huge problem. After all, Bell has worked fine for years. If they are not razing the store, the they must be installing a smaller concept than their usual one, and since there are more and more Whole Foods scattered around, this won't be a big destination.
Posted by: curmudgeon at February 23, 2009 11:13 PM
Yes there are more and more Whole Foods and methinks they are heading for trouble. In this economy with their pricing, there is a limit to how many people will be beating a path to their door(s). People are getting much more conscious of how much they pay for scrubbed and polished organics. And Safeway is really offering competition.
Posted by: Oceangoer at February 23, 2009 11:54 PM
"Yes there are more and more Whole Foods and methinks they are heading for trouble".
Oceangoer's point was reflected in a recent L.A.Times article about the surge of business at Trader Joes (inexpensive) vs. declines in psf store sales at existing Whole Foods.
Like many retail trends, why are we always the last to get them? When Ikea came to the East Bay you would have thought it was some new unique concept store, instead of a decades old furniture chain that other cities have shopped at with no fanfare. Barneys finally comes to S.F. 20 years after Chicago and L.A. and we now call it the "flagship" store?
It is just another supermarket chain with more expensive deli items and bruised produce from Chile and Mexico labeled as "organic".
Posted by: sigh at February 24, 2009 2:32 AM
When did that Bell Market close?
Posted by: Stu at February 24, 2009 6:50 AM
Stu - Bell closed last week, and the one on Hyde/California will be shuttered at the end of the year, ostensibly ended the chain's run.
As far as Whole Foods goes, I work with the chain as a supplier, and their Bay Area stores are still very strong despite the chain as a whole slowing down. They've made a huge push with their in-house brands (a la TJ's) and putting up large displays of value-priced items. I think they're offsetting the higher-prices items like grass-fed beef and organic beets with lower-cost staples like cereal and soup. People don't shop at Whole Foods cause it's cheap though, they shop there because they want something a little better than Foster Farms chickens and industrial canned beans. Their model has always been about service and quality, and I think they've exceeded almost ever other large grocer consistently.
Andronico's on the other hand, is pushing their prices into the stratosphere.
Posted by: Brandon at February 24, 2009 7:39 AM
i understand that they aren't going to do a much to the interior of this store, that's hard for me to believe since that bell SUCKS. the shitty plan inside coupled with the poor parking and traffic on 24th really makes this a pain in the butt market to deal with. i always thought they should knock the current structure down (the lot is very large) and build a big structure, to the curb, with underground parking. i guess something like that would have little chance of taking place in noe and i suppose WF has little interest in spending so much money in this economy.
Posted by: garrett at February 24, 2009 8:16 AM
The size of the store was what the nimby's were all about on this one. Keep it the size of the Bell. No in-store restaurant, or sushi bar. Basically, try to keep it a for Noe only WFs so they don't get all the driving traffic.
Posted by: sparky-C at February 24, 2009 8:27 AM
No in-store restaurant, or sushi bar.
Yeah because no one in Noe would use Whole Foods for prepared meals... Nimbyism at it's finest.
Posted by: unearthly at February 24, 2009 9:07 AM
I agree with Garret, better to demolish this fragment of surburbia and replace it with a more appropriate structure. The storefront should be brought forward to 24th and parking placed in the rear or underground. That stretch of 24th is very walkable except for Bell where you had to walk through the parking lot to reach the front door.
Same goes for the Castro Safeway - what a waste of prime real estate !
Despite the groans and moans about the redevelopment of the Cala Foods site on Stanyan and Haight, at least they got the form factor for the site almost right (but still needs more street level presence)
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 24, 2009 9:18 AM
I think the size had less to do with NIMBYism as the idea of just replacing what was there (ie, a grocery store...simple as that).
Also, keeping it small / simple I'm sure is easier for the surrounding stores to deal with (the nearby sushi or sandwich shop probably wants to see it stay a "grocery" store).
Also, I doubt WF...or the City...or the people in the area...would have loved to see a huge long-drawn-out new development be put in...probably would have meant a year+ for no grocery store.
Kinda funny that folks are 'complaining' that it's too small when if it was the opposite coming in (ie, some WF on par with the one in Potrero), I'd bet more folks would be complaining about that.
Lastly: I'm happy it's coming in...the old Bell that was there was actually very expensive on many items if you actually compared prices. It's just the interior seemed 'cheap'.
Posted by: DanRH at February 24, 2009 9:27 AM
Who on earth would want a sushi bar in a supermarket?
Posted by: anonn at February 24, 2009 9:32 AM
Adaptive Reuse at its finest - why waste when you can reuse. Apparently Whole Foods has budgeted $5 million for a remodel and hopes to be open by September.
I wish Fresh n Easy could make its way in to San Francisco... not a city domination sort of thing, just a few stores. They have great house labels and a few national brands at great prices.
Posted by: Ed at February 24, 2009 9:37 AM
Who on earth would want a sushi bar in a supermarket?
The sushi bar is a red herring. If Whole Foods goes without a prepared foods section it won't last very long; a money losing venture. Most people aren't going to go to Whole Foods for non-grocery items ($10 shampoo, etc.).
IMO the existing Bells is an eyesore; that space is huge and should be built up to the curb like the rest of 24th.
Posted by: unearthly at February 24, 2009 9:47 AM
Fresh and Easy is the type of company that has a really tough time getting a foothold in SF. Somehow certain supermarket chains get a pass. But branded boutiques, regardless of what they sell have a tough row to hoe.
Side note. There is a small-ish sidewalk pour happening in my neighborhood on the northwest corner of Precita park right now. A crew of DPW guys are on it. They are 11 in number. Anybody ever pour a sidewalk in front of your house? How many guys did you hire? Three? Four? Even five? (one for traffic control with the truck driver and three to manipulate the concrete?) Well, we're paying for 11 today. yay San Francisco.
Posted by: anonn at February 24, 2009 9:49 AM
"Adaptive Reuse at its finest - why waste when you can reuse."
I think the greater waste is the current use of the lot. This is a perfect spot for a higher density/mixed-use building. The surface area parking lot is an eyesore and waste of urban space.
Posted by: Michael at February 24, 2009 9:49 AM
Ed said: "I wish Fresh n Easy could make its way in to San Francisco... not a city domination sort of thing, just a few stores. They have great house labels and a few national brands at great prices."
I read that Fresh n Easy was considering taking over Cala Food's Hyde/California St. location once it closes. Can anyone confirm this? The plan was for a mixed use condo with the grocery store on the street level. Has the economic crisis killed this?
Posted by: pigge at February 24, 2009 9:50 AM
don't know about the local politics of the size of this store but i do know that whole foods' corporate strategy is to open smaller stores. their sales per sq ft has been suffering and they need to get that up. they're losing sales around the "perimeter" of their stores - think prepared foods with big prices and big margins. that's why the stock's been pummeled. right now better to invest a lot less in a smaller building and sell $2 taro chips instead of $20/lb pasta salad
Posted by: resp at February 24, 2009 9:58 AM
I actually think this is not a bad compromise and a smaller Whole Foods is keeping in scale with the rest of the neighborhood. I also like the parking (admittedly limited) upfront. Hopefully they will plant a few more trees to add more green the area.
Posted by: Willow at February 24, 2009 10:14 AM
Whole Foods carries the delicious cured meats that I love
Cala had nasty meats
Posted by: zig at February 24, 2009 10:30 AM
I was recently at the new WF in Tribeca and it was a massive waste of space. It has the sushi bar and a coffee shop. The coffee shop is a huge waste of space, and there is a starbucks in the same building. I think the smaller store will be good. They could have cut out 200sq.ft. of cheese wheel displays alone.
Posted by: sparky-C at February 24, 2009 11:00 AM
My understanding is that WF will be doing lots of work on the interior of that space, so it will be a lot better shopping experience than Bell. Parking was a problem at Bell so I assume it will remain one at WF. It really would make more sense to put a mixed use space on this lot will parking below, but that would take time and cost big bucks, so I am just happy that there will be a decent grocery store there.
Posted by: NoeNeighbor at February 24, 2009 11:37 AM
pigge - I don't know what will be going in at the Hyde/California site, but I do know that Kroger has sold the site (Kroger owned the last few Bell/Cala stores that Delano's didn't buy - the Noe one, the Hyde/California one, and the one on Silver).
Kroger has also negotiated a sell for the one on Silver, but I don't know when it will close. All of these were leftovers from when Kroger bought Fred Meyer in the early 00's. Fred Meyer had bought Ralphs in the late 90's, and Ralphs had bought Cala/Bell from the group who now bought them back to be rebranded as Delano's. Kroger only kept the SF stores for so long because of the value of the land - they closed all of the rest of the Ralphs in Northern Cal years ago (most suburban sites used leased stores, rather than company-owned).
Posted by: Brutus at February 24, 2009 12:43 PM
Does anyone know what might replace or is slated to replace the Bell Market that just closed on Silver Ave. betweeen Somerset St. and Goettingen St. in the Excelsior? With that closed the closest grocery store is now the Safeway off of Potrero or the Safeway on the upper end of Mission St.
Posted by: Rob at February 24, 2009 12:47 PM
In a sick sort of way I always found the California St. Whole Foods parking garage space competition and disputes rather entertaining. I cannot imagine the drama that will ensue with the opening of this popular store with its limited parking and Noe Valley moms honking in their Volvos, Saabs and BMW's.
Posted by: just saying at February 24, 2009 2:10 PM
They should do full time Valet parking, like the California Street WF does at Thanksgiving! I can't belive the NIMBYs let this get approved, traffic will be a nightmare...goes to show that certain Brands/Chains get more consideration than others.
Posted by: Poor in Pac Heights at February 24, 2009 2:39 PM
I used to shop for a few missing basics at that Bell Market. I'll shed a tear at the shuttered windows next time I pass by... NOT. It was pretty lame, and a poor alternative to a Safeway, imho. But the convenience is going to be missed until it is replaced, not that anyone can call WF a real grocery store in terms of price. People in the nabe that could walk there (I did) now have to drive up on DH or Market St for basic groceries.
About car traffic, this stretch of 24th is always dicey when delivery trucks meet trash collectors in the morning. You speed your way around trucks and quickly reach the pedestrian crossing at Noe or Sanchez. Always entertaining to watch when sipping your latte at Bernie's (or whatever the coffee shop is called next to the parking lot).
Posted by: San fronziScheme at February 24, 2009 3:09 PM
Fresh 'n' Easy is awesome and affordable, and you can get normal household brandname products (like Tide) instead of iffy housebrand that you get at TJ's in the household goods department.
I sure wish they had a few dotted around the city. Maybe where the old Albertsons is in Seacliff, the Richmond needs some love.
Posted by: kthnxybe at February 24, 2009 3:27 PM
TJ's is much better for its foodstuff than for its other products.
Something I miss from Germany and France is what is called "hard discount" chains, like Aldi or Lidl or Leader Price. They offer basic goods at rock bottom prices, say a 40c pack of basic butter cookies or $5/quart first cold pressed Olive Oil. A similar concept is the same as TJ's by the way but at a higher price point, as the Albrecht Bros' Aldi owns TJ's.
Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 24, 2009 3:47 PM
Any supermarket chain (Trader Joe's) which carries Laphroiag is okay by me.
Posted by: dub dub at February 24, 2009 4:08 PM
IMO the existing Bells is an eyesore; that space is huge and should be built up to the curb like the rest of 24th.
that bell's market was the best free parking in the city. park there, go to the noe farmer's market (carefully navigating the writhing swarm of yuppie offspring), grab a paper at the newsstand, and eat a ham and cheese croissant at the noe bakery before hitting the bank and g'ing tfo. You just had to be sure not to actually eat anything from the bell and you were all good.
Posted by: mork at February 24, 2009 10:37 PM
I don't think the lack of "hard discount" chains is a US thing, maybe just something about SF of even California. Aldi's exist on the East Coast - I've been to them in PA and NJ.
Posted by: Chris at February 25, 2009 2:06 PM
Chris, interesting comment. What are prices like in these East Coast Aldis? What about choice, quality?
Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 25, 2009 2:11 PM
I do 95% of my shopping at TJ's, but then I've never been one that cared all that much about brandnames. About the only thing I buy elsewhere on a regular basis is cat litter, paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins) and soda (TJ's doesn't carry any decent caffinated sugar free cola).
Posted by: Rillion at February 25, 2009 2:12 PM
Aldi's in the US are not as nice as the ones in Europe where you can get decent stuff, if random food for cheap. Think dented cans, about to go fruit and veggies. They did however sell the basic no name staples - cereal, bread, soup for cheap along with a random assortment of other household products. A good comparision in price and selection might be Big Lots, although only in grocery context. They were certainly cheaper than TJs or even the ethnic grocery stores in NJ.
Posted by: Chris at February 25, 2009 2:33 PM
Aldi and its several imitators in Europe have become so big they are now in par with the big supermarket chains in terms of marketshare. The Euro consumer is not stupid. Most brand products have huge markups and a marketing/advertising-oriented cost structure. When people look at the content first they do not get much more bangs for their bucks with big brands. The price of a pack of Oreo is mostly branding. They could sell their transfat-full cookies for much less and still make a buck were they to cut down on non-production/distribution costs.
Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 25, 2009 2:45 PM
My sons live in Noe Valley and Haight-Ashbury. I travel from Chicago to San Francisco to be with them and stay at Noe's Nest Bed and Breakfast. I walk to Bell's to shop and prepare yummy meals for my guys, and especially like the pasta salads. I was there in January, '09 and was sad to hear Bell's was closing but happy to know WF is on its way!!!! Shufat's Market is also very nice and convenient. I love SF. The weather is wonderful ... sure bests the cold in The Midwest!!
Posted by: Deanna at May 17, 2009 10:50 PM
I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO AND VISIT MY GRANDSONS IN NOE VALLEY. A GROCERY STORE IS VERY MUCH NEEDED.
WHOLE FOODS IN AUSTIN TEXAS IS AWESOME. THUS, WF IN NOE VALLEY SOUNDS GR8!!!
Posted by: Martha at May 17, 2009 10:56 PM