Nearly six-and-a-half years since Whole Foods called dibs on the vacated Best Buy space in City Center plaza at Geary Boulevard and Masonic Avenue, the SF Planning Commission finally authorized the Amazon-owned grocery chain to move into the space Thursday.
There was plenty of excitement when a Whole Foods opened on mid-Market in March 2022, bringing an upscale spark into a long-beleaguered part of town. But that Whole Foods lasted barely a year, partially because of drug use and terrible street conditions, though employees also said that “Sales weren’t too great” at the location.
Though now it looks like there’s another Whole Foods coming, albeit at Geary Boulevard and Masonic Avenue.
The Anza Vista Best Buy store at City Center plaza closed way back in September 2017, and the 50,000 square-foot location has sat totally empty there since. And then Amazon-owned Whole Foods announced their plans to open a store in that vacated spot within a month of the closure, but Whole Foods has experienced a long obstacle course of very San Francisco hurdles since.
First, the Target store in that plaza (which also sells groceries) tried to block the Whole Foods in a big-box store pissing match. That eventually got resolved, but then the SF Board of Supervisors approved an appeal against the Whole Foods brought by a local grocery workers’ union. That appeal forced Whole Foods to submit their yet-again revised plans for the location in January 2023, this time mitigating concerns over “air quality impacts” over their refrigeration equipment, cooling towers, and HVAC units.
That revised plan came back before the SF Planning Commission on Thursday. And in a unanimous 7-0 vote, the commission approved a new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for that Whole Foods, and authorized its permit for use as a grocery store.
“This is a big opportunity site, very big intersection, very big formula retail shopping center,” commissioner Joel Koppel said before the vote.
This will be the eighth Whole Foods store in San Francisco. And it was approved unanimously with surprisingly little discussion, despite all the previous controversy. This may be a sign that attitudes toward formula retail are changing as SF struggles with commercial vacancies. Or maybe it’s just that people are sick of seeing this City Center plaza feel like a graveyard after departures of Best Buy, Sears, Mervyn’s, and Toys ‘R’ Us.
Related: Whole Foods Moves In Again On Long-Vacant Former Best Buy Location at Geary and Masonic [SFist]
Image: Alvin J. via Yelp