Planned Fulton Street building still looking for grocery 

A sprawling, glass-draped building will dramatically change the urban character near the Civic Center and could create a new inner-city grocery-shopping destination.

A five-story residential building with a large ground-floor retail space crafted for a grocery tenant was recently approved for construction by the San Francisco Planning Commission.

Construction could begin next spring, according to project attorney David Silverman.

The glazed glass-covered building will occupy a city block bounded by Octavia and Laguna streets and Fulton and Birch streets in the former Western Addition redevelopment area.

However, a grocery tenant has yet to sign up to occupy the 32,800-square-foot retail space.

"There are a number of grocery chains that are holding back on commitments," commission Chairman Ron Miguel said Thursday, before voting to support the project. "So the fact that nothing has been signed does not surprise me."

The block of land is specially zoned for a grocery store, and the building owner would need commission approval before using the ground floor for a different use.

City planners had suggested a less striking design containing earth-colored elements, but commissioners ruled Thursday in favor of the original design that includes brightly colored walls.

Some residents said the building would be inappropriate for their neighborhood. Neighbor Temple Tse, for example, called it a "behemoth structure."

But officials ruled that the benefits of the grocery store and housing outweighed concerns about size and density. The building will contain 32 studios, 48 one-bedroom homes and 56 two-bedroom units. Roughly 150 parking spots will be provided in a basement.

Residential and commercial tenants of a two-story building that occupies a portion of the block will have to move.

Tenants in residential units were urged by commissioners to seek legal advice because the lofts that they occupy were built without city permits and their tenancies are therefore not protected by rent-control laws.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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