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San Francisco group outraged over plan to shut Western Addition Safeway: ‘Shifting all of the Blacks out!’

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – Last Thursday we learned that the only Safeway grocery store in San Francisco's Western Addition is closing.

Community members and the NAACP are speaking out, saying that implementing this plan will have long-term negative impacts on the city's black community.

In less than two months, the Safeway grocery store on Webster Street will close, executives say.

“They're destroying it. They're just destroying the whole neighborhood,” said Theresa Frye, who lives in Western Addition and shops at Safeway.

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Community members are outraged, saying seniors and the disabled have been forgotten. Safeway officials say they have reached an agreement to sell the 3.68-acre site to a real estate company to build a mixed-use development project that would include residential and commercial space.

“They really need to do something to take away the things we need from downtown and then create housing. Housing for who? For the homeless? They need to make a bigger effort,” said Norris Mays, who lives in the Western Addition.

“It is the destruction of a community!” said Dr. Amos Brown of the NAACP.

And those views from Brown are shared by those we spoke to in Western Addition, who believe this will have a direct impact on low-income black and Asian communities.

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Last week, Mayor London Breed told our partners at the SF Standard, “This is a real and rare opportunity to create a significant amount of new housing and even a new grocery store in this part of our city.”

However, plans for a new grocery store have not yet materialized, and community members we spoke to have targeted the mayor.

“And London isn't even fighting for the black community to keep this store here for black people. It seems like they're just driving all black people out!” said Lillie Briggs, who lives in the Western Addition.

JR STONE: “So you blame the mayor?” we asked.

LILLIE BRIGGS: “I blame London because I think London should have done more. She grew up in this area!”

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Supervisor Dean Preston's office said it had contacted Safeway and the developer to “explore the possibility of establishing a grocery store as part of any proposed development on the site.”

“They need to stop, slow things down and allow the black community to come in and include us,” Brown said.

The closure of the Safeway store means customers will have to travel more than a mile to another Safeway or Lucky supermarket, or a little more than half a mile if and when a new Trader Joe's store opens in Hayes Valley.

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We reached out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed's office on Sunday evening to see her response to some of the criticisms. We have not received a response from her office.

Safeway issued the following statement:

“Safeway recently entered into an agreement to sell 3.68 acres of land at Webster Plaza in San Francisco's Fillmore district to Align Real Estate. The company will develop a mixed-use development project there that will include residential and commercial space. As part of the sale, the Webster Safeway store is expected to close in early March.

Safeway has proudly served the Fillmore area for 40 years. All Webster Safeway employees will be relocated to another store in the San Francisco area, and we will continue to serve San Francisco from our remaining 15 locations.

The developer purchasing the Webster Plaza property is excited about this opportunity. San Francisco is struggling with a housing shortage and Safeway sees this as an opportunity to make a positive impact on the community and be part of a solution to bring much-needed additional housing to San Francisco.”

Supervisor Dean Preston made the following statement:

“We are extremely concerned about the potential loss of this grocery store in the heart of Fillmore, and particularly the possibility of losing it as early as March, which we find unacceptable. We welcome the development of this large surface parking lot with residential development, but this should not be an either/or situation.

We have reached out to Safeway and the developers to learn more about the plans, discuss the timeline and explore the possibility of incorporating a grocery store as part of a planned development at this site.”

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