As we first reported last year:

“The former Real Food building at 3939 24th Street, in the heart of Noe Valley, has been vacant since 2003 when the grocery was suddenly shuttered.

Two months ago it was reported that HGGC, the private equity group co-founded by former 49ers quarterback Steve Young which now controls the vacant building, was putting the property on the market with “plans to sell it to a housing developer.”

And the property is now officially for sale.

But according to the confidential offering memorandum for the property now making the rounds, while it is envisioned that “some prospective buyers may wish to develop a more substantial building on the site,” others may simply wish to “renovate and re-open the building.”

And with no set price, the property is expected to be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of their plans for the site which is zoned for development up to 40 feet in height.”

As we then revealed this past January:

“While the property hasn’t yet changed hands, a permit to pour a new concrete floor, versus start demolishing the building, has since been approved. And in addition, the paperwork to secure a Type 20 liquor license, which would allow for the retail sale of beer and wine, has been received by the City.”

And lo and behold, the formal application to simply divide the existing grocery store space into 3 smaller retail units has now been filed.

The establishments in the rendering are simply illustrative and the actual tenants have yet to be identified. And in terms of longer-term plans to completely redevelop the site, there are none in the works.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Noe Valley Watchdogs

    Thomas Murphy of Aralon Properties last purchased it for $3 million during May 2018. Hopefully, he is not a profiteer at the local community’s expense.

    • Posted by Dandywhatsoever

      Who but a profiteer would buy commercial property?

      • Posted by that_dude

        I’m also clueless. Do people think they like sinking millions of dollars in for charity or no gain?

      • Posted by Freeloader

        As opposed to a profiteer who also helps the local community

        • Posted by JWS

          The insane focus on money by people in this city astounds me. ANY other city in America and the reaction to any proposed project would be, “well good! New housing/retail opportunities/cleaning up blight.” But here we focus on “somebody is making money? BAN IT”.

  2. Posted by Pioneer

    We already have a chocolate shop!
    We already have a casual clothing boutique!
    We already have a shoe store!
    Noe allows no competition!! Keep it shuttered and vacant!!

    • Posted by Patrick

      Might help if you read the text: “The establishments in the rendering are simply illustrative and the actual tenants have yet to be identified.”

      • Posted by Neighborhood Activist

        You need to turn on Satire Detection in your browser.

  3. Posted by JWS

    I always thought that Telegraph Hill and the Mission were the most ardently NIMBY neighborhoods in the city, but the more I watch Planning Commission hearings, the more clear it becomes that longtime Noe Valley homeowners are in a class of their own. The cream of the crop. It feels like not a single project, residential or commercial, gets by without being flagged for a DR by the same small group of individuals who attend every single meeting. It’s insane.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      You are one of the few posters who provides interesting summaries and insights as to the mindsets of the different neighborhood residents.

      As my estate planning attorney said, there are always a few nutters in every neighborhood regardless of socio-economic level. The key for any planning board is to ignore the usual suspects and move on after the requisite procedures are met.

  4. Posted by Kraus

    If this was developed as affordable housing — much-needed Teacher Housing, for instance — and one applied the Planning Code’s 100% Affordable Housing Bonus Program, one could achieve 45 homes on this site (assuming a minimum of 40% were 2-Bedroom or larger.)

    • Posted by Sutro_Tower

      And that would unfortunately be met with a chorus of boos from the very same people exclaiming: “Not the right place!” “Traffic concerns!” “Insert any other disingenuous rationale here…”

      You have to understand the playbook which has always been that the only good development is no development.

      • Posted by Tim Lorenz

        Traffic concerns, then build a 6,000 mc mansion to a wealthy chinese gazillionare cause they will only visit twice a year…

    • Posted by SFRealist

      There is zero chance of (much needed!) affordable housing being built here. Zero chance.

  5. Posted by Kraus

    (A continuation of my comment above.)

    Accordingly, $4M could be offered to the present owner (who recently bought it for $3M). That works out to a “per door” cost of $89K/unit — which is quite reasonable.

    • Posted by Tipster

      They should have listed “Ye Olde Sex Shoppe and Film Arcade”, “Cannabis Conundrum” and “Todd’s Gun and Tackle Shop” on the awnings on the application (at least no one could claim Noe already has them), and then suggested a 60 Unit 10 Story Apartment building as an alternative.

  6. Posted by Tony

    I was going to say, it’s one thing to block conversion of a grocery store if you’re concerned the local area wouldn’t have access to groceries, but this is inexplicable. Not upzoning this site is absolute complacency to the housing crisis.

  7. Posted by Victor

    Agreed @Kraus. $90K/door for an unentitled site in Noe would be generous given the triple back flips needed to get through SF.

  8. Posted by NoeNeighbor

    Building housing on this site would be great, but more important is to get something in there. It is absurd that it has languished for so long.

  9. Posted by Joel S.

    What success would you expect the renovation to have? A casual observation of 24th Street shows a lot of vacant storefronts. Cardio-tone, Fattoush, NV Cyclery, Mill, the music store – all have closed in recent months. Is there much demand for commercial leases? Perhaps this is simply a low-risk project for the owner to create revenue while waiting for an attractive purchase offer, or for a more secure and certain path to redevelopment than currently allowed.

  10. Posted by Corrie

    No plan for housing is correct. My colleague reported this update back in the May issue of the Noe Valley Voice:

    THE SURREAL HAS FINALLY BECOME
    REAL at 3939 24th St., the vacant
    storefront where the Real Food Company
    closed down and locked out their
    workers on Labor Day weekend in 2003.
    The space has been empty and an eyesore
    for nearly 15 years.
    Shortly after the Voice hit the streets
    last month, signs went up on the doors of
    3939, posted by the realtor’s representative,
    Jennifer Hibbitts. They informed the
    neighborhood that the property had been
    sold to “local investors who will remodel
    and seismically retrofit the building, and
    lease it to small neighborhood retail tenants.”

    Assessor records show the old structure
    was built in 1921. Real Food opened
    there as a natural foods grocery in 1970,
    in the west two-thirds of the space, with
    Ver Brugge’s butcher shop in the east
    one-third. Real Food expanded into the
    Ver Brugge’s space in 1986.
    The Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation
    paid a visit to City Hall and looked
    up 3939 in the Assessor-Recorder’s Office
    and found that the property had been
    deeded from “3939 24th Street, Inc.,”
    with headquarters in Park City, Utah, to
    “MWA, LLC,” on May 4, 2018. That led
    me to California secretary of state filings,
    which said the new headquarters were in
    San Francisco on Bayshore Boulevard, at
    an address occupied by Aralon Properties,
    a real estate investment group
    headed by a Mr. Tom Murphy.
    Mr. Murphy answered my first telephone
    call, and unlike the representatives
    of previous owners, he was more than
    willing to share his plans for the 4,000-
    square-foot store.
    The plans are very simple and, hopefully,
    very quickly implemented. “There
    are not going to be a lot of changes to the
    building,” Murphy said. “We are going to
    divide up the space to create three retail
    stores and add one more front door to the
    two already there.” First, he points out,
    they will commence work on the seismic
    retrofit of the foundation in the back, and
    then complete the partition of the space.
    “We are having the designers work on
    the project now and should soon be able
    to file our plans with the planning department,
    and hopefully get quick approval
    of the plans and design and start the work
    as soon as possible,” he said. “So we will
    be ready, hopefully, to rent the spaces out
    by this fall.”
    Hopefully, City Hall will expedite the
    process so there will be holiday lights in
    those long-barren windows by December.
    Merry Christmas. By the way, based on
    the San Francisco Assessor’s records, the
    purchase price for the space was $2.25
    million.

  11. Posted by A former planner

    I think this would be great residential site, but no one can force the property owner to build. 45 units is likely too small for a 100% affordable project to be developed (likely funded by the City). Generally, 50-55 is the absolute minimum.

  12. Posted by Sarah

    24th Street has so many vacant commercial spaces already! Why is that?

    • Posted by JWS

      Noe Valley, like the Castro and Union Street, has a long history of neighborhood groups and current retailers controlling what can go in to retail spots. There was a significant new restaurant ban in the 1980s, and existing stores like to prevent competition.

      Vs. Divisadero, Hayes, and Chestnut (which do not ban new services like restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and gyms which are thriving in a retail sector where brick and mortar is dying out). Crowds flock to brunch on Chestnut and to go to the gym and then do some shopping after. Meanwhile nobody is going to Union at all which is three blocks away in the same neighborhood.

      This is why Peskin’s plan to ban new restaurants in Jackson Square should be thrown out immediately.

    • Posted by stevenj

      Vacant commercial spaces are not unique to Noe Valley. People purchasing at big box retail and online have been helping close brick and mortar retail stores for years. Ironically, right across the street from this location is Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, the new Walmart. My guess is that these new retail storefronts will also sit empty for a long time.

      • Posted by JWS

        I hate this argument because it’s not universal. A poster here recently (or maybe it was on SF Hoodline?) linked an article that retail sales in SF are actually GROWING not diminishing. Not to mention that while Castro and Union languish, Hayes/Chestnut/Divisadero are booming. I cannot think of one vacant storefront on Hayes or Chestnut that is not currently in the process of remodeling for another usage…Acrimony on Hayes closed and literally within weeks Jest Jewels had opened in its stead. So there are many corridors that are on fire right now.

        I see a very, very clear correlation between corridors that have merchants associations that encourage competition and those that are thriving, as well as corridors that have a history of avoiding competition and restricting usage and those that are dying.

  13. Posted by RDMINSEA

    Shades of The Patio Cafe on Castro Street which was vacant for almost 20 years.

  14. Posted by heynonnynonny

    Very interesting. A comment in the previous thread on Jackson Square said the 24th-Noe restaurant ban was rolled back though. The planning code lists it as a conditional use as far as I can tell (sec 728). Same for the Castro (sec 715). The Castro is a wasteland but I thought that was thanks to a handful of commercial landlords who pay low taxes and are holding out for formula retail.

    Union Street and Jackson impose limits on the number of restaurants and have some alcohol restrictions that might make restaurants unprofitable, but it looks like the number of allowed restaurants is more than the current number so that’s not exactly a ban yet.

    I don’t claim to understand the planning code so please correct me if I’m missing something. It doesn’t sound like regulatory capture by the existing restaurants so much as residents who don’t want Noe to become a destination for the kind of people who go to shiny new restaurants. Hopefully Planning is paying more attention to the residents than the existing business owners.

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