Home Depot axes warehouse plans

Home Depot executives have abandoned a seven-year quest to open a hardware store at the borders of the Bayview and Bernal Heights neighborhoods, blaming a slow approval process, falling nationwide sales and the poor economy.

The chain store was first proposed for the corner of Bayshore Boulevard and Cortland Avenue in 2001, after the company reconsidered plans to open a store in Visitacion Valley, according to city planner Matt Snyder.

After years of debate about the potential positive and negative impacts of the warehouse-style chain store, in 2005, the Board of Supervisors narrowly approved plans for a scaled-down 107,000-square-foot store. The location, in the Bayshore Boulevard corridor, is already home to a high number of hardware, lumber, gardening, plumbing and related stores. An appeal against the plan was overturned earlier this year, according to a spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection.

Company officials in 2005 told city officials that the store would employ more than 200 people and pay around $500,000 a year in sales tax to The City.

“We re-evaluated this deal and found it no longer works for us,” Home Depot spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher said Monday. “Several factors have changed, including our current priorities as a business — and, of course, the economy,” she said.

Investors were warned in a statement sent out by Home Depot in February that sales fell nearly 7 percent last year at the 30-year-old company and are expected to fall another 4 percent to 5 percent this year.

The company has 2,225 stores around the world but none in San Francisco.

A masonry landscape supply store in the corridor will shut its doors next month, according to owner Dave Painter, who said Home Depot could have saved his business because it would have attracted new customers to the corridor. “I was hoping they might have opened up by now,” he said.

But Hazel McDonald, longtime manager of a nearby gardening store, was delighted by the announcement. “I’m so pleased, I am so happy,” she said. “They would have ended up … owning the street and putting all these other little businesses out of business.”

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, whose district borders the site, said he was disappointed that so much time had been wasted on the proposal but he welcomed the announcement because it would create a “great opportunity” for “everyone to come to the table” to discuss the corridor’s future.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, however, said she was disappointed by the announcement and that “maybe” the company could be convinced to put the project “to the side” instead of “down the drain.”

jupton@examiner.com

Examiner Staff Writer Josh Sabatini contributed to this report.

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