Transbay Block 8 Rendering: Folsom and First

One year after having cut 99 residential units from their development plans for Transbay Block 8 and reduced the project’s proposed grocery store space from 22,000 to 12,500 square feet, a reduction that rendered the space too small for a large grocer like Whole Foods (which had expressed interest in the site) or Trader Joe’s, Related California has yet to secure a replacement grocery to fill the future space along Folsom between Fremont and First.

Related closed escrow on the land this past December and plans to build 546 units on the site, including 70 affordable units in the Rem Koolhaas designed 55-story tower to rise on the southwestern corner of the block and 80 affordable units in the adjacent podium buildings.

Transbay Block 8 Rendering

All 150 of the development’s below market rate units will provide housing for households earning up to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI).

And if Related is unable to secure a grocery tenant for Block 8 “on commercially reasonable terms,” the developer could theoretically seek approval from the City “to reprogram the space for another use,” despite the fact that a full-service grocery has been deemed “very important” to the development of the Transbay District and its future residents by the City’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Bay Guy

    I suppose all of the population in SF will have to drive to Fresno to purchase groceries… they will have to drive because Fresno has no rapid transit…

    • Posted by Pfffttt

      Actually, they’ll have to Lyft, Uber or take a cab or Greyhound to Fresno, because they’ve all run out of gas in SF and have nowhere to fill up within city limits.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      Good. While there they can buy gas because there won’t be any gas stations left in the city either.

  2. Posted by Fishchum

    I’m not a hi-rise guy, and don’t want to live there, but don’t residents need walkable neighborhoods, even in hi-rise areas?

  3. Posted by aerel

    Why the sq-ft reduction? If the city deems a grocery store there very important, you’d think they’d accommodate the space needed in the building plans.

  4. Posted by Orenthal Jay

    whole foods is not really a grocery store, it’s a place to waste your money on basics and buy overpriced crap. they have shiny stores, but they suck. a safeway is better and has better deals. but in SF people pay a lot for crap that’s shiny, like those crummy 500,000 dollar dorm room “condos” in Hayes Valley.

    • Posted by info

      That’s a total myth. Even SFGate had a side-by-side comparison of the Safeway and WF for a host of basic items and it was a toss-up. And comparing some high quality potato chips at WF with a bag doritos at Safeway is a dumb comparison.

      The house organic brands at both Safeway and WF are generally equally priced. In fact, I found the beer priced very cheaply at WF. The same six-pack for Anchor was like $7 at WF but like $10 at Safeway and at Rainbow.

      We shop at Trader Joe’s primarily because it actually has both cheaper prices on everything, and I find almost everything to be of high quality. Safeway is for picking stuff up late at night (open 24 hrs!) or odds and ends, and Rainbow is for bulk stuff and specialty items.

      • Posted by Stop Driving

        You’re not getting quality food at Whole Foods. You’re paying for marketing and image. Safeway is garbage, BTW. All factory food. Do the world a favor and shop at a local grocery that sells local goods. You’ll be doing your body and your community a really big favor.

  5. Posted by c_q

    I find it strange that there is a huge concern for BMR units but no provision for BMR groceries or actually BMR services of any kind nearby…

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      This is taken care of by other government programs – notably SNAP (food stamps) and WIC.

      • Posted by MukDutch

        Nice quip with no added value.
        50% of AMI for a household of four in SF is $50,950. Don’t think a Whole Foods is economically viable for the individuals who qualify. This area is still isolated with very few low income amenities around. But hey a subsidized unit can makeup for the inconvenience

      • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

        Not a quip. Groceries are, in fact, subsidized for the poor and near-poor through these programs. Whole Foods accepts food stamps, by the way.

        • Posted by mukdutch

          Check out this food stamps allotment chart. After all deductions given, this household of four earning 50% of AMI is entitled to a healthy $16 a month in food stamps.

          Every little bit helps but I stand by the statement that if the city demands these BMR units in areas in which no low income services/amenities are provided, something should change. Whether the location of the BMR units or the requirement to build mixed services in the areas in which created.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          But 50% AMI is the maximum – i.e. some, or perhaps all, of the BMR renters will make less than this, and thus qualify for higher food stamp aid.

          My point was just to address c_q’s comment that we should have “BMR groceries” — we do have such a thing already.

  6. Posted by Dan

    Maybe the builders can see whether Gus’s is interested in opening a market there.

    • Posted by NoeNeighbor

      I am very much liking the new Gus’s in the Mission; They get an amazing number of SKUs in a small space and the quality of the produce, cheese, meat etc. is very high.

  7. Posted by info

    12,500 sf is not too small for TJ’s. In fact, that’s the typical size of a TJ’s. If you hadn’t noticed, they tend to run small and cramped with tremendous turnover and tons of staff constantly restocking shelves.Unfortunately, TJ’s hasn’t seemed to wrap their heads around the notion of an urban store that people might walk to. My understanding is that they balked at the lack of parking for shoppers for this site. However their tune might be changing since there are rumors that TJ’s is moving into the basement of the Old Navy building at 4th/Market. That would be pretty nifty.

    • Posted by info

      to wit: Trader Joe’s Expands Its Floor Space

      [Editor’s Note: And from your wit (which was published in 2011): “The average Trader Joe’s store probably will increase from between 10,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet now to 15,000 square feet and bigger…”]

    • Posted by Stop Driving

      Trader Joe’s isn’t a place I associate with quality food. It’s just private label factory food, like Safeway.

  8. Posted by Stop Driving

    Bi-Rite should step in. Whole Foods is a sham of a grocery store. I’d never shop in a place like that.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      I don’t think that’s true at all. If it was the only one nearby, I bet you’d shop there. I do.

  9. Posted by BTinSF

    All over America there are quality grocery chains that put the private equity-owned Safeway to shame. Even its new corporate sibling Albertson’s is much better but compared to Publix or Wegman’s the both s*ck. Somebody needs to research bringing in some competition for Safeway. Maybe even Molly Stones would be interested (not sure the size of their store on California St. but it’s not large.

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