Where is the affordable grocery store promised for 555 Fulton St?


The new market-rate condo development now nearing completion at 555 Fulton, between Octavia and Laguna was entitled by the Planning Department specifying inclusion of an affordable grocery store to serve the local community.

The owner of the development, Guangzhou R&F Properties (based in Guandong, China)  through its local subsidiary, Fulton Street Ventures, purchased the already entitled/approved site in late 2012. The previous developer, with the encouragement of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Assn, included an affordable grocery store in the entitled ground floor commercial space. Though the site is within the boundaries of formula retail ban commercial district, one of the first moves the new owner made was to request a removal of the formula retail ban.

After numerous failed efforts to meet directly with Fulton Street Ventures, Gail Baugh, vice president of HVNA, went to the developer’s local address, 1426 Fillmore St, #216, and met with local employee Erik Liu, to discover current activity regarding finding a grocery store tenant. After 2 meetings, Mr. Lui has not returned several requests to follow up on further efforts to find a grocery store.

While there are numerous concerns regarding the fulfillment of the entitled use for 555 Fulton Street’s commercial space, the main point is to remain engaged in the activities to find an affordable grocery tenant. Fulton Street Ventures has remained distant from HVNA’s inquiries and not transparent in its activities. There have been numerous contacts with the supervisor’s office, but none of the communication has been sent to any community organization, especially the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Assn, which was the organization that helped to negotiate an affordable grocery store component of the 555 Fulton Street development.

There have been two community meetings about the grocery store:
1) October, 2013, held at the Ella Hutch Community Center, with the intention to learn from the community what was wanted in an affordable grocery store, and
2) Spring, 2014, held at the African American Arts and Cultural Complex, to see a visual presentation of the development and to hear from the Planning Department’s research on average income in specific neighborhoods.
Both meetings were supported by Supervisor Breed. The conclusions of both meetings included: 1) bulk foods not processed, prepackaged foods 2) fresh fruits/vegetables 3) fresh deli 4) fresh meats/poultry/fish 5) baby products
6) more parking 7) more jobs. Supervisor Breed is committed to the affordable grocery store for our community and has worked to establish specific guidelines for affordability of specific food items.

There is an opportunity to create an important contribution to the retail mix in the Western Addition as well as Hayes Valley. There are store layout and price-of-product concerns that make a solution for this commercial space complex. However, Fulton Street Ventures, with retail decisions controlled from China, has not been transparent with HVNA or the other community groups in its activity to secure an affordable grocery store that the community demands.

In an earlier spring meeting, Supervisor Breed and HVNA President Larry Cronander agreed that resolving the affordable grocery store for 555 Fulton was a mutually agreed upon goal for 2015. In the meeting between Erik Liu of Fulton Street Ventures and HVNA Vice President Gail Baugh, both reached the same conclusion. We look forward to renewed energy, combined with local support, to resolve the concerns and get an affordable grocery store as soon as possible.

Here is a summary of the building visuals from sfcurbed.com back in 2013.