San Francisco supervisors approved zoning changes that will allow a chain grocery store to occupy the bottom floor of the 555 Fulton St. condo building. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)

San Francisco supervisors approved zoning changes that will allow a chain grocery store to occupy the bottom floor of the 555 Fulton St. condo building. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)

Trader Joe’s approved for Hayes Valley, bringing long-awaited grocery store

New Seasons Market canceled plans at 555 Fulton St. citing construction delays

After years of delays, Hayes Valley is one step closer to getting a long-awaited grocery store, one that brings frozen gnocchi and 19-cent bananas.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved a new Trader Joe’s at 555 Fulton St. on Thursday, which will occupy a currently vacant space in a building of condominiums. The growing neighborhood lacks a full-service grocery store, limiting residents to smaller markets or trekking home from Safeway on Market Street with bags of produce.

The City, typically averse to chain stores, will now have its seventh Trader’s Joe’s, previously estimated to open in 2022 or 2023. Its location is in a neighborhood commercial transit district, just one of three that normally bans chain stores, known as formula retail.

In this case, a grocery store was a condition of approving the luxury condominium project at 555 Fulton, which was subsequently linked to a City Hall corruption scandal and built in 2019 after years of construction delays. New Seasons Market, a Portland-based grocery store, sought to occupy the space but canceled plans in 2018, citing construction delays, SF Weekly previously reported. Mayor London Breed, then a supervisor representing the area, said she was “devastated” by the New Seasons change of plans and called it a “big loss” to the community.

The Board of Supervisors in November 2019 passed zoning changes that would allow a grocery store chain at the site under conditional authorization. The grocery store was required to accept payments from food assistance programs and provide an analysis of food affordability.

“All other options have been exhausted and I really think this is the right place for the grocery store,” said Planning Commission President Joel Koppel.

Trader Joe’s is known for cheaper, healthy food with unique offerings, like Everything But the Bagel seasoning and Speculoos cookie butter, and walls covered in art tailored to each neighborhood. The chain’s popularity, particularly among millennials, has inspired dozens of blogs, cooking guides and Instagram accounts.

“I don’t think Trader Joe’s needs much of an introduction,” said Andrew Junius, of the firm Reuben, Junius & Rose, which represented the company in the planning proceedings. “This space has been vacant. It’s been waiting for a grocery store. … We’re here with a grocery store. Let’s move this one forward.”

Trader Joe’s included a community benefits package in the project to participate in a program to prevent wasting food, efforts to hire within the neighborhood with outreach at places like job fares, and affordability. The new Hayes Valley store, which will be 16,600 square feet, is expected to employ about 110 people.

While a few people expressed opposition in public comments regarding the chain approval, most were neighborhood residents supportive of bringing affordable food options within walking distance, as well as jobs.

“We really need an affordable grocery store here,” said Jennifer Laska, president of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association. “A lot of people think of Hayes Valley of being a higher income area. We have a high percentage of people here who are lower income and we really need the affordability Trader Joe’s offers.”

Knowing the congestion around a Trader Joe’s near her own residence, Commissioner Sue Diamond expressed concerns about traffic that would come to the area.

Commissioners ultimately approved the project with modifications to provide an informational update on traffic mitigation in one year, to extend parking limits to 90 minutes, and include right turn signs in the parking garage.

Just Posted

San Francisco health experts recommend that pregnant women should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as a booster shot. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Questions regarding COVID-19 booster shots for pregnant people have been pouring in… Continue reading

Examiner reporter Ben Schneider drives an Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle along Beach Street in Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Could San Francisco’s tiny tourist cruisers become the cars of the future?

‘Fun Utility Vehicles’ have arrived in The City

Badly needed rain cooled off pedestrians on Market Street in The City on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Storm door opens in San Francisco — what will the rains bring?

‘Come Monday, fire season in Northern California should be done’

The so-called “twindemic” that public health officials in California and elsewhere warned about last year — the combined threat of influenza and COVID-19 — was largely eased by the wide use of face masks, physical distancing and reduced travel, experts say. But their concerns are back this year. (Shutterstock)
COVID and the flu: Is a ‘twindemic’ threat lurking again?

‘Because of so little disease last year, population immunity is likely lower’

49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hopes to return to the field this weekend to lead San Francisco against the Colts. (Photo courtesy of 49ers)
NFL Week 7 picks: Niners face crucial matchup against the Colts

San Francisco could join Seattle on the brink of irrelevancy in the NFC West with another loss

Most Read