Having ground to a halt last year, waylaid by the late delivery of its custom designed glass skin, construction on the 139 new Hayes Valley condos at 555 Fulton Street is back underway.

And having laid the groundwork for a formula retailer to operate the development’s 25,000-square-foot grocery store space at the corner of Fulton and Laguna four years ago, as plugged-in people have long been aware, San Francisco’s Planning Commission could clear the way for Portland-based New Seasons Market to occupy the space and offer fresh produce, meat, baked goods, cheese, deli, floral, pastry, seafood and bulk items from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

In exchange for allowing the formula retailer to open in Hayes Valley, within which formula retail controls currently prohibit any new chain stores from opening, New Seasons will be required to accept payments by way of income-based assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women (WIC). In addition, New Seasons was required to prepare a food affordability projection for a basket of “everyday grocery items” as maintained by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the results of which indicated the market would be affordable to those with a low or moderate budget.

San Francisco’s Planning Department is recommending that New Seasons be able to open. In terms of timing, while the market would “love to open in 2018,” we’ll take the over. And yes, there are 73 designated parking spots for the grocery in 555 Fulton’s garage.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Cabron

    This place was open to the elements all year, look out mold…

    • Posted by Kraus

      It’s concrete, steel studs and glass — no food for mold.

      • Posted by Cabron

        Wet drywall?

        • Posted by oh my

          Exactly…same thing happened on the development (years ago) on California across from UCSF Laurel Heights site. They had to pull out a bunch of stuff to clean it.

  2. Posted by Dave

    Is there any additional information on the curtain wall manufacturer, glass manufacturer, installer, and what halted the installation of units? I read on the previous post that it was related to fritted glass, but there must be more to it than that. The mini roofs caused by the facade setbacks still look incomplete as well (I drive by daily). I imagine the outcome is numerous lawsuits..

    • Posted by more housing please

      I read somewhere that the builder tried to cut costs and install a cheaper glass that was not part of the approval. SF halted the construction until the glass as promised could be delivered.

  3. Posted by Dave

    FYI – not the same Dave who posted above.

    These restrictions on formula retail were fine in the day and at a time when the retail world was completely different from what it is morphing into now. It hard for many formula stores to make a go of it now and much harder for independent stores to do so. Some of it is that rents are too high, but a lot of it is the changing nature of retail. I know of several small property owners on Taraval who are having an increasingly difficult time keeping their places leased and they are not rent gouging.

    The recent news is that the mid-Market shopping center is having a hard time leasing space and is going to try to convert 25% of the center to office use. My question – why not convert the space to residential? The city is facing a glut of office space.

    The retail industry is changing so fast it caught up with the developer of the mid-Market complex. 8 years ago when proposed it looked like a good deal – today one would be crazy to build something like that in that particular location.

    The developer of this project is lucky to be getting the grocery lease because, short of that, it probably would have been very difficult to lease the space for retail use.

    • Posted by Chris

      Not sure where you are getting a “glut” of office space? Demand for office space continues to boom in San Francisco and SF commands the highest office rents behind Manhattan.

      Comments on SocketSite are always interesting. One set of posters rail about surging office demand driving up prices and pushing people out and clamors for a 15-year moratorium on new office space (which of course is completely inconsistent with a supposedly flagging office market) while other posters go on about an alleged “glut” of office space.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Exactly. There is no glut of office space. That’s why they want to change from retail to office in mid-Market.

      There may be a glut of retail, space, though. The city should look to convert excess retail to office or residential.

  4. Posted by Kraus

    All good points.

    Regarding the “mid-Market” project, its likely that the retail space could not meet the “exposure” requirements of residential (natural light, etc.) — so perhaps office use is the only realistic alternative.

    Regarding the grocery store use at 555 Fulton, that was always the developers plan and I believe that they locked in the store early on in the process. That part of Hayes Valley doesn’t have any reasonably nearby grocery options — the nearest Safeways, for instance, are 0.6 and 0.8 miles away — so I think the proposed market will do just fine.

    • Posted by SFMichael

      Although natural lighting my be a problem, it almost certainly wasn’t built with the type of plumbing that a residential building would require.

  5. Posted by scott f

    The Planning Commission continued the matter of the grocery store from today to mid-October.

  6. Posted by ALLIN

    I might not know all the pieces, but I suspect what happened is that, in order to gain approval for this project, the developer agreed at the neighborhood’s insistence that a grocery would be included in the project.

    However, the size of that grocery space is so large, say close to 30,000 square feet, that very, very few, if any, independent (i.e., non-formula) grocers could every afford the space – so the project was problematic from the very beginning to the extent that the formula retail restrictions were made to apply to the space — i.e., a very limited pool of credible, potential operators of such a large space that could meet the “non-formula” requirements.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      How big is The Market in the Twitter building? Seems pretty large and maybe appropriate for Hayes Valley.

      • Posted by ALLIN

        The Market in the ground floor of Twitter was originally just north of 20k gross, I believe, and, as you know, had some struggles, either with pricing or demand, depending on who you ask.

  7. Posted by sassyboy

    that building will take at least 5 more years to finish–since its been 5 years and counting. Good luck with electrical after all our rainfall…

  8. Posted by Daved

    Cabron’s concerns are real. I’ve walked by the place for a few years now. If it was just a site that was structural and rough framing for that period, but no finish work, Kraus would be correct. I’ve worked job sites in the midst of rain, and it’s not an issue, if the job is in the rough framing stage, and it has time to dry out.

    What has happened here is that they roughed in their plumbing and electrical, covered it in drywall, painted, installed the fixtures, and they’re still waiting for the exterior glass in some places. I also see places where there’s a gap between the interior finish and the framing. They’ve wrapped some of the exterior in plastic and other spots are wide open. Besides rain, this location gets fog fairly regularly.

    There’s been more than a little sketchiness about this project, and I doubt that when it’s eventually completed (2018? 2019?) the owners/lessors might have issues.

  9. Posted by ownerat555

    I’m a would-be owner at this property affected by the delays, and I’m interested in connecting with others in the same position.

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